4 Unique Design Ideas Sure To Get Your Booth Noticed at a Trade Show

by Drue Townsend

Getting a great return on your trade show investment means getting noticed and communicating your message in a creative manner. Attendees can be overwhelmed with so many places to look– different types of trade show booths, colorful digital signage with motion graphics and companies having booth promotions- so you need to offer something special to attract your target audience. See the creative ideas below to take your trade show marketing to the next level.

Before investing in an elaborate design, be sure to define your goals for the show and the audience you are trying to reach. Do you want to hit a sales number or generate broader awareness? Talk to everyone at the show or an elite group of decision makers? Tell them about features and benefits or lure then in with something less direct? By defining your end goal you can determine the best strategies for optimizing your space, delivering an effective message and attracting the right attendees. Once you define your objectives, consider these trade show marketing ideas to inspire unique booth designs:

1. Be Experiential

A printed piece or seeing something on a website is no match for creating an experience. For auto shows, Jeep® sets up “Camp Jeep”, a dynamic track where attendees can ride along with a professional driver to experience what the vehicles have to offer.

Camp Jeep is a great example of an interactive trade show experience

Image Credit: Chrysler Group

Ski and snowboard brands can use fun and challenging ski simulators to attract people to their booths.

Ski simulators at trade shows engage customers in an interactive way.

Image Credit: SkyTech Sport

Think your product is difficult to simulate? Michelin® created a station that let visitors “Be the Tire” and experience the road from a tire’s point of view.

Michelin simulates the feel of the road to a tire at their trade show booth.

Image Credit: MC2

If they can make car tires exciting, nearly any brand can think of a way to make their booth more experiential.

2. Be Mysterious

If your goal is to gain brand awareness and exposure with new audiences, consider using a little mystery at your trade show booth. Gate the booth in a way that demands visitors interact with it to gain entrance. Maybe make a speakeasy-style entrance and send the password to a select group of prospects (and allow others to enter with a business card).

Image Credit: Library of Congress

Camera bag company Crumpler® constructed an elaborate cardboard castle without any branding on the outside. Attendees had to enter the castle to find out what it was all about.

Image Credit: CNET

3. Be Inviting

Make your booth a place prospects want to sit and stay a while. Consider renting comfortable furniture and mellow lighting to fill your space.

Image Credit: Jack Morton Worldwide

Not only will this arrangement feel homey, it will stand out vividly from the rows of basic booth tables and allow visitors to slow down and absorb more of what you have to say.

You could also offer trade show comforts such as quick chair massages, a phone charging bank or shoe shines.

Image Credit: Working Well Massage

When VISA® wanted to exhibit their new mobile payment solution they set up an elaborate espresso machine and had attendees “pay” for a coffee with a house credit card using the payment system.

Photo Credit: Dan Lacher on Flickr

It motivated visitors to stop by, allowed them to experience the product and had the added benefit of keeping them there for additional relationship building while the coffee was prepared.

4. Be Interactive

Interactivity drives connections, both in person and with social media integration. Photo booths (complete with props) are a fun way for attendees to commemorate their visit, and the printout with your logo and website address will be shown to others and likely be visible on their desk for a period of time.  

Image Credit: Visa Versa Entertainment

Take it a step further by offering an incentive for them to post their photo to your company’s social media channels. A lower-tech option might be to create a wall-sized crossword puzzle. Attendees could tweet the answers to your company Twitter feed and the person to fill in the last clue wins a prize.

Image Credit: thegoodeater.com

For a great example of interactivity increasing engagement, take a look at this video installation that the Opticians Council of Canada created to raise awareness for eye health.

Whether you use high-end digital displays, fabric pop-up booths or banner stands, utilizing these trade show marketing ideas can help you get the most out of the show and achieve your goals.