3 Seconds to Make an Impact: Does Your Trade Show Display Measure Up?

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 by Kerry O'Malley

The most effective trade show displays deliver a punch of visual impact that makes a strong first impression and communicates your key messages in a matter of seconds. You only have a small window of time to attract prospects to your booth in order to maximize sales opportunities.  There are lots of things you can do to KEEP someone at your booth once they’ve stopped; however, getting them to stop is job one!

The next time you exhibit at a show, have several people from your company walk down the aisle your display is on with a completely detached, unbiased attitude.  Ask for their input to evaluate your display’s “curb appeal.”  You can also simply do this yourself but if you have any emotional attachment to the existing display, you’ll probably get a more honest appraisal from other people!  Whether you’re evaluating a 20′ x 20′ island, a 10′ pop-up, a tabletop, or a retractable banner, here are some questions you should ask.

1. Is your logo prominently displayed and visible from a distance?  Even better, is it backlit so it pops?

2.  Are the graphics large enough so that even as someone approaches your booth from 20-30′ away, they will recognize the products or services they promote?  Try to create graphics that will resonate with your ideal target customer.

3.  Would someone have some idea of what your company does with just a glance?  If there’s nothing they can relate to, they have no reason to stop.

4.  Is the text on your graphics minimal and large enough so that someone can quickly understand your key messages?

5.  Are the most important images and/or text in the upper half of the display area?  Anything below will not be noticed by someone walking past your booth.

6.  Do your graphics have visual impact?  More color draws the eye.  The less white space, the better!

7.  Are your graphics crisp and clear?  “Grainy looking” graphics (a result of using pictures that were too small or low resolution) communicate sloppiness, unprofessionalism, and a lack of attention to detail.  Is that how you want your company to be perceived?

If you can’t honestly give your display a high grade in each of these areas, it might be time to upgrade your graphics or buy a new display.  You spend a lot of money on a trade show, especially when you consider travel expenses and the time your sales people are out of the field working the booth.  Don’t let an outdated or poorly designed display keep you from maximizing that investment.

Author: Kerry O'Malley


Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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