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Trade Show Displays Ideas

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

photo flip bookContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

Whether you love them or hate them, trade shows remain one of the most effective ways to reach new customers and clients in your industry. Or at least it’s effective if you can get people to pay attention to what you have to offer. And that means getting them to stop and talk.

The trick is figuring out what works to get the people into your trade show booth. So what works? Of course, it depends on you product and your industry, but here are some of the tried-and-true trade show display ideas that work for many segments.


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10. Go Visual

trade show background display

You only have seconds to catch the attention of an attendee wandering around between sessions. Is your brochure going to do that? Probably not.

The fact is, you can have the the slickest graphics and the most compelling text, but if no one opens it, it’s all for naught. A video loop with compelling images is a wonderful way to catch someone’s eye long enough to get them to stop. So is a dramatic, big backdrop or banner. They stop to look, and that means you get to talk to them and share why they need to learn more about your company. That turns a visitor into a prospect. Score!

9. Catalogs

catalogs for trade shows

Yes, I did just say that printed material isn’t enough. But if your company offers a variety of products, a catalog can be a great trade show tool. But don’t just leave them on a table for people to pick up. Engage them. Use the catalog to provide solutions to a problem.

“Too many files? We have the perfect storage solutions here on page 20.” “Can’t find the tools your customers need? Here’s a tool kit on page 7 that just might work for them…and you.” It’s all about the engagement.

8. Promotional items

give aways for trade shows

It doesn’t matter if it’s a pen or t-shirt, people LOVE the giveaways at trade shows. The trick is to make sure your booth has printed promotional items that match the demographics of the guests. A show caters to small gift shop owners? Skip the drink cozies, and opt for custom printed flash drives custom or notebooks. For engineers, small desk toys are a big winner. Do your research, and hand pick your giveaways to match your ideal customers.

7. Interactive

interactive flip book

Getting people to DO something, instead of just look at something, is a great trade show choice. I’ve seen booths with small puzzles people can try to solve, photo books they can make and even coffee they can flavor their way. None of the booths were related to the activity, but the lines to get into the booth were long. And the reps were kept busy chatting with prospects in the mood to listen.

6. Games

 Prize wheel for trade show

People love games, so including one at your booth is one of those trade show displays ideas that just seems to work across so many industries. Spinning prize wheels, guessing games, and games of skill (don’t make it TOO hard! You want some winners around) are all popular choices. Customize the game to showcase your product or service, and you’ll be selling without even trying.

5. Samples

free samples sign

People love getting to try a product before they buy. That’s why samples are so popular in the business-to-consumer world (B2C). So it should come as no surprise that it works in B2B marketing, too. Give people a taste, a trial, even a “freemium” version, and watch your leads climb.

4. Exploded views

Exploded view for trade show

If you have a complex mechanical product to sell, offering trade show attendees an exploded view of the inner workings can be a wonderful and effective display option. But don’t use drawings. Encase the elements in clear display cubes so visitors can walk around the pieces and get a feel for what’s inside that engine, manufacturing machine or restaurant equipment. People hate buying black boxes, so taking the cover off might just garner the sales you want.

3. Uses



If your product or service has multiple uses, setting up your displays to show that flexibility is another proven method to boost interest. With company budgets still running lean, multiple applications for in-house products can be a great selling point. And if yours is a consumer-focused product, retailers and wholesalers will love the many marketing options a multi-use product provides.

2. Demonstrations

demos at Trade Show

If at all possible, don’t tell people what your product can do…show them! Set up your booth to allow demos of your items or services in action. People may be skeptical of promises, but seeing things happening before their eyes can transform that doubt into genuine interest.

1. Go big, go bright

Good trade show display

There is probably nothing more damaging to a trade show booth than being dull. I have seen crowds walk past a potentially useful product because the booth was nothing more than a table draped in white or black with a pile of booklets, business cards and maybe some sad looking giveaways.

Tradeshows are about the show! Make your booth displays as high as the space allows. Choose bright colors. Add lights. Skip the table and create movement by having people walking around. Incorporate demo stations, games, and giveaways (have people hand out the giveaways, rather than stacking them on a table. It’s a show, so keep it moving!

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Even in the least creative industries, trade show booths can be fun and interesting. Make sure yours is the best of the best!

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