A blue and white logo with the word celebrating in it.
A group of people walking around an exhibit.

First of all,howyou do something is just as important as what you do. Trade show booth concepts are no different. Too frequently, exhibitors don’t take the time to organize a timeline while preparing for the next show … and it unfortunately shows. Recently, at IWF in Atlanta, I passed a vacant booth on a busy trade show floor. Observing the display itself, the complete lack of a good graphic message and a single person staffing the booth with zero enthusiasm, it was no wonder attendees were passing them buy.

One must personify their business presence within theirtrade show booth. After all, this tangible experience reflects your corporate image. We all know trade show booth business benefits should directly benefits the bottom line. Otherwise, why would companies’ budget for, and execute annual allowances for expensive exhibits and events?

Trade show booth concepts allow businesses to showcase their products and services in a way most marketing concepts cannot. On average, the numbers of attendees with credentials to make decisions and with purchasing power, all in one place, can make the show successful for all. It’s a proven way to excellently market your business to the trades or consumer shows. Whatever your reason to be on the show floor whether as an exhibitor or an attendee, fiscally, the bottom-line matters. Ideally you are strategizing and monitoring how to maximize your Return on Investment (ROI) for each event.

Return On Investment

Speaking of ROI. In order to maximize your ROI, you must first determine what your ROI is for each event. From here is how you do it:

  1. Multiply the total amount of sales from the show by the average gross margin on a sale.
    Multiply $250,000 by the gross margin on a sale. If your gross margin is 70%, you can assume the actual incremental revenue is $175,000.
  2. Subtract the total cost to attend the event from the actual revenue.

This data, collected correctly, is crucial and can be used as a measuring stick that will help you continue the same program or right size for the next event.

Current Trends

The trade show industry was down, but not out, during the Covid-19 Pandemic. While most of us were on hiatus, behind the scenes the industry was actively gearing up for the return of the trade show and event industry. We can all agree it took a while, and through all the fear and financial speculation, it did indeed bounce back! Believers with experience knew that Face to Face marketing was key to getting back on our feet and ramping up the economy. After all, trade shows are a great way for businesses to showcase products and services and for companies to market their business. Bolstering your market share through your business presence with trade show booths is a great way to increase business impressions among your potential customers.

Custom Designed Trade Show Booth Concepts

One quickly emerging trend is to step away from bulky expensive and heavy trade show exhibits in lieu of more lightweight systems. These systems are light, easy to maneuver and great at lowering the shipping weight for material handling as well as reducing your labor invoice. With the flexibility in using systems for vertical elements such as wall and graphics, many designers curate floor plans that guide potential customers through the booth while interacting with real counters and furnishings that work as meeting spaces to conduct business. This hybrid design of using systems and custom interiors is very popular, and very effective.

Purchase vs Rent

Owning an exhibit can become a more costly option when age, maintenance and storage are considered. ROI measurements indicate exhibitors using the same display and design for less than 3-5 shows per year for 3-5 years or approximately 15 shows, costs more money to own, and are limited on design flexibility- What you buy is what you have every time. From an accounting perspective, a trade show display purchase is a capital expenditure whereas rental can be written off 100%. On top of the fabrication costs, add storage, maintenance, repair, new elements and eventual disposal and you truly get less and spend more money. It’s my opinion and experience that, most of the time, owning a trade show display is not the most productive way to market your business

Rental exhibits are increasingly popular because you can customize the look and feel per show and change your trade show booth concepts per event. Unless your company message changes, it is entirely possible to work around the same graphics. This is a great way for businesses to keep a fresh look, customize their presence for each event and constructively showcase their products and services.

Fabric Graphics

In my opinion one of the greatest advances over the past few years is the addition of opaque, stretchy SEG (Silicone edge)graphicsfor trade show booth concepts. Prior to this new fabric, opaque fabric had zero stretch and was very difficult to size and install while making it difficult to keep the wrinkles out…not a good look. With these new fabrics, you get a tight, opaque graphic that can cut your graphic installation time in half. Plus, they look better and in the case of marketing your business, graphics look cleaner, more dynamic and allow your message to do it’s job! Fabric technology and the verbiage properly positioned- #1 game changer!


As we know, companies spend time on the footprint of their booth, including design, structures and furnishings. The most important part of any company’s trade show booth concepts is well thought out graphics. Clear succinct messaging should be placed where your potential customer’s eyes can easily land on it. Type and font should be easily readable. Keep in mind, the hierarchy of your message is King, and in many cases is speaking to passersby before you can engage. A guideline for laying out messaging from top to bottom in the booth space; the following is a rule of thumb.

Top: Corporate Branding/Logo

Middle: Tag line

Bottom: Information about your products and services.

Since we are talking about trade show graphics, a major no-no is overwhelming with too much graphic message. Your business presence with trade show booths is only there to capture the immediate attention of a potential customer. It’s up to your informed booth staff to engage and market your business products and services.

When I see a display that is covered heavily with text, I call it “word vomit”. Yes… I went there. Bottom line there is too much information, and the potential customer takes in nothing because the graphic is too crowded and visually distracting.

Hanging Signs

Hanging Signs, yes or no? Aside from the show rules on whether you can have a hanging sign and the cost to rig the sign, what are the trade show booth benefits to your marketing? What is your name recognition within your target market? Are you planning any pre-show marketing with incentives for potential customers to seek you out on the show floor? Are you scheduling meetings in your booth space? Hanging signs are an advantageous way to brand your company and market your business. They are a beacon of light overhead guiding potential customers to your booth. A word of caution- messaging not properly thought out may not bring the positive results desired!


Media in the booth space can be an effective tool. Interest in movement, color and messaging will draw the attention from attendees on the show floor aisle closer to your space. When incorporating monitors into the booth space, your game plan will need to include the following considerations:

  1. Am I using the media to attract potential customers or providing them information after they have entered the booth space, or both?
  2. Is my media any good?
  3. Am I using the correct size monitor for the application?
  4. Is my media capturing their attention or providing them with important information about the company, products or services?

Trade show events bolster a company’s business presence with well-designed trade show booths. They are a gateway for lucrative marketing. It is also a great face-to-face way for businesses to showcase new products and services. We also realize that trade show booth business benefits the bottom line when time is taken to strategize for a better outcome. Relationships are made and grown on the show floor, showing that Face to Face marketing is one of the savviest ways to reach and help with customer retention. Understand your ROI, make sure your trade show booth concept is effective and your well-informed sales team is ready to interact and ready to listen to the needs of your customers and potential customers.