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Reel’Em In: Trade Show Display Ideas That Will Reel in Customers and Create Profits

Trade shows are a huge waste of money – if you’re not planning your attendance/booth right.

But who knows what “right” means when it comes to a convention center full of competition? Well, we’d like to think we do – but so do you!

The trick to trade show display ideas is to know your brand and get creative. You can learn some less vague ways to do that below.

Have a Theme

Sometimes trade shows have a general theme, which they’ll tell vendors beforehand. But even if they do, that doesn’t mean your booth needs to look like a child’s birthday party.

When we talk about themes, we mean something a lot more overarching than the color of your tablecloths from

What’s the purpose of you attending this show, and not one of the dozens of others?

For example, a startup attending their first trade show wants to concentrate on name recognition. That makes sense for them in that context.

So how are they going to design and plan their booth for that purpose? Well, in our opinion, they should do something that engages other customers or businesses.

For example, they could have a drawing where if you follow them on Instagram and post a pic with a certain hashtag, you can win a prize. Then, not only are people physically following them as a business, but they’re also interacting with their brand.

They’re more likely to remember them, even if they do unfollow them a few days later.

Sure, they could go the more traditional route and give out little trinkets with their logo, but they’ll just get thrown in a bag. That’s not saying promotional items are useless, though – get our advice on how to use them correctly below.

Have Interactive Aspects

Like we hinted at above with the photo contest idea, there are lots of new ideas for display booths.

For example, this for-rent device will upload pictures from users and create a larger image. That’s the idea behind Luster, an up and comer in the trade show scene.

How does Luster work? It works a lot like an Instagram feed – but it’s live. Let’s say your company hashtag is #newshoes. People take photos at your booth and the software edits them to match a specific color.

Then the printer prints out a photo sticker of the picture the person just took. The picture has a number on it, and the customers place the sticker in the corresponding spot on the mural.

As more and more people take pictures, the larger picture starts to appear. People love the interactive-ness of this activity and being a part of a work of art.

And yes – Luster’s services aren’t cheap, but they’re not the only option. They’re just a great example of how to get customers to interact with both your booth and your brand.

You could do something as simple as showing people how they’re wearing the wrong shoe size and give them a free shoe fitting. The idea is to spark their interest with something more creative than a wheel spin.

Use Your Booth to Create an Environment

An example from Duke’s Smoked Meats gives people a break from the classic sales booth structure. Instead of setting up looking like a booth, they created a little cafe-looking restaurant.

In this “cafe”, people can sit down and try the product without feeling pressured. It’s a good example of where sales and marketing are going – towards interactive experiences.

You don’t have to sell or market food/drink to use this idea. Look what Capital One is doing with their newer banks. They’re recreating the idea of what going to the bank means by making the environment more user-friendly.

Can you have a little Keurig or coffee station at your booth? Those cups can have your brand on them. Even if they don’t stay to hear about your company, they’ll see the name and appreciate that you cared enough about them to deliver them value.

Value is a broad term, but we use it to mean something they actually want, like coffee or a place to sit down. Think about the user experience and you’ll be immediately on-trend.

Overthink Your Promotional Items

Another way you can deliver value to clients? Be very careful about the promotional items you choose.

What do people actually need? Note that they’ll already have reusable bags, branded pens, stress balls – all the classics. What can you give away that will stand out from the crowd?

Something useful – like Popsockets for example. You can work with that Colorado-based brand to personalize them. Now people will think of you every time they hold their phone!

When it comes to using your promotional items as a display aspect, make a little “customer center”. Offer the items next to other things like coffee so they have to enter your booth.

KISS – Keep It Short and Sweet

Finally, when you’re designing things like your company’s fliers and even information display boards, keep things short. No one is going to walk by and stare at six paragraphs of information.

They may, however, be willing to read four bullet points that let them know if they want to get more information. Keep your graphics short, sweet, and to the (bullet) point.

We see way too many people that waste their graphic design or wall space over-loading the customer with words.

As long as you keep information short and make your brand name prominent, you’re on the right track.

Trade Show Display Ideas

In the end, the key to getting more eyes and more interest at a trade show is never being complacent. Yes, what worked last year might still work this year, but do you want to be a company that stays static?

No, you don’t. Change is the mother of good branding, if we may rephrase that classic saying.

Keep your trade show display ideas creative and you’ll be on your way to sales and success.

Need help picking a giveaway for your booth? Read our advice on the topic.

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