Top 10 Creative Ideas for Success with Trade Shows15 min read

Trade shows can be tricky if it is your first time exhibiting and can tend to take a lot of effort and time when compared to publishing an online ad, but the returns can be huge. In this article we will share our experience with you by giving you top 10 creative ideas for you to succeed at trade shows, after reading this you will be in a much better position to make informed decisions as you start your trade fair adventure, or if you have exhibited before there will most likely be some new strategies you can test out. There is no one winning formula for trade shows, instead it is about testing different ideas and making an analysis at the end of the event to see if it is something that can be expanded or ditched to try a different technique. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and don’t be afraid to try new things, without testing you will never know – so check out our list to see what you could try next!

1. Choose a Sustainable Design

A sustainable design is where you take special note of the type of finishes, materials and colours that are implemented into your custom exhibition stand. This type of design lets your visitors know and see that you and your business value the environment and if the products you see also reflect this type of outlook it will result in a very consistent a natural looking booth that will be appear professional and inviting for attendees to visit your stand and find out more about your business.

Natural Finishes

Natural finishes are where no treatment is applied onto the base material, which means no paint or additional processing is taken and the purpose of this is to keep the raw material appearance. This implies the impression of purity which implies there are no forced applications to make one thing look like another.  

Recycled Materials

Recycled materials allow materials to get reused either in the same form or in another form, the main point here is that these materials do not get disposed in the dump and never used again. There are materials out there that only get used once without the properties to be able to get processed and reused into something else, these can seem wasteful and ignorant of the environment we live in.

Neutral Colours

Neutral colours reflect the type of colours you get with nature, and these tend to be paler and softer that mimics natural stones, wood, sand, and sediments etc. It is a vast contrast when compared to bolder colours such as magenta that are processed by combining several colours into one. Integration of these natural colours into your booth will instantly trigger your visitors understanding that you value the environment and are eco-friendly with your approach to the way your business operates and the products/service you offer.

2. Integrate Proper Lighting

Without sufficient lighting or the right lighting components, it can play negatively towards the way your booth is viewed and you can risk it getting lost in the pool of other booths at the same venue. Lighting can help make your booth look alive and also strategic positioning of these lights will also help direct your viewers’ attention to the messaging you are looking to convey or products you want to highlight.

Strategic Spotlights

Strategic spotlights are similar to arm lights which has the ability to be rotated to specifically highlight a particular element of your booth, it is one of the most cost-efficient ways to provide illumination in your booth. If there your booth as a specific theme, you can also find the right fixture so that matches the style of your booth so that it does not seem out of place – having a consistent looking booth is what makes it memorable and easy to identify.

Neon Lights

There are two types of neon lights, one is made of glass and the other is made of LED flex and both can produce the effect of neon. LED flex are great for recessing into the perimeter of your architectural elements to emphasise its shape and visual appeal to make it more interesting and engaging to your customers. Glass neon are commonly used to create signs which is a very effective way to highlight your logo or messages you want your customers to read.

Ambient Lights

Ambient lights are where you can play with the temperature or coloring of light, and this is usually applied to a larger area or zone rather than a specific part of the wall. They are typically a soft orange colour and this is used to replicate a relaxing lounge space, its purpose is to create an environment for your visitors to get a chance to relax and to step back from the hustle and bustle of the trade show. This gives you a great opportunity to strike a casual conversation with a customer and introduce them to your product or service without the distractions of harsh lighting or aggressive sales techniques.

3. Set Up a Giveaway Station

Visitors love freebies, therefore if you make it obvious by creating a specific area for this – it will make it easy to identify and visitors to head directly towards it like a magnet.

Product Samples

Giving away items which are related to your business is much more purposeful as it gives your customers a chance to own it and test it out for themselves which is much more unique than a generic USB stick. Each person has their own expectations and letting them connect with your brand will allow them to make their own personal judgement whether or not it is right for them rather than relying on another person’s review.

Food & Drinks

Satisfy your visitors thirst and hunger by offering them food and drinks and while they are consuming their tasty meal, they can casually check out your booth and find out more about what your business is about. They may not have ever visited your booth if it wasn’t for the free meal, plus a full belly is one less distraction for them to consider making a purchase from you.

Coffee

Everyone loves coffee, but you probably want to make sure it’s a good blend – offering bad coffee may actually make the customer go away rather than hanging around for a chat and finding out more about your business. If you are offering free coffee, might as well make it an enjoying experience.

4. Attract visitors with Props

Props mean more photo opportunities which also mean more exposure as they your visitors will tend to take snaps and share it in their social media. This exposure will create hype and motivate more people to visit your booth so they can also get the chance to see the prop in person and take photos of it.

Statues

Statues are usually associated by characters in movies, they are recognizable and depending on popularity of the character, it will attract a certain audience. Based on your target audience, you can make an informed selection for the right character to hire as your prop.

Cars

Cars are magnets for car enthusiasts, usually either the older it is or the newer it is the more crowds it will generate. If your audience can go inside and take a photo pretending to drive the car, even better because it increases adrenaline and motivates your visitors to stick around and learn more.

Photobooth

Photobooths are great for activating your brand, your visitors can take fun photos and utilise branded props as part of their snap – this is very effective for social media as it makes your brand easy to identify and allows you to get tagged then you can share it on your stories to spread the word and let others in the community know about your event.

5. Invest into proper Signage

Basic signage such as self-adhesive vinyl will do the job of displaying your logo, but if you are looking to capture the attention of the crowd then you should consider upgrading to one of the below signage types.

Backlit Logos

This is where you incorporate lighting into your signage, apart from the illumination these signs will also require a certain thickness which adds more definition and depth which makes it much more eye catching and visually pleasing to look at.

Hanging Banners

Hanging banners are suspended in the air and can go as large as you want, the purpose of hanging banners to left visitors who at on the other side of the venue know that your presence is here, and they can locate your booth. It also gives your booth additional height to enhance its verticality.

Lightboxes

Lightboxes are illuminated boxes; these can also come in any size and acts as a static tv screen – it makes images pop and adds life into it. The cheaper alternative is to direct an external light source onto an image, but with lightboxes the light source is inside the box and provides a distributed lighting to ensure the whole image is evenly lit.

6. Hire Big TV Screens

Movement captures attention, so the bigger the screen the more visual area you can covered in a person’s peripheral vision. Use this to your advantage by creating engaging content to keep visitors’ eyes glued to your screen.

LED Walls

These are modular panels that consist of small LEDs and can be configured to any size – if you are looking for a professional finish, this will be the one. The make it look integrated with your booth, we’d suggest recessing this into you wall so they sit flushed, because there are no frames you can make it look as if it is part of the wall.

Video Walls

Video walls are made up of combining larger screens together, for example 4x 55inch TVs in a 2×2 configuration – the purpose of this is to create a large overall image. Since this option will have spacing between each screen it won’t look seamless like the LED wall option, but this option will come out more cost effective for a similar result.

Projectors

The advantage of projectors is that they can be projected onto different surfaces and also display large images/videos at a much more cost-efficient price point. The downside is that it will require a darker environment to maximize its brightness output but imagine a moving image which is projected onto your whole booth, it will definitely capture the attention of the crowd. 

7. Decorate your Booth with Greenery

Greenery is a great strategy to use for softening up hard edges and to add colour into your booth space. This splash of colour will make it much more inviting and livelier, this will motivate visitors to check out your booth.

Flowers

Flowers have two key aspects, colour variety and sense of smell – the visual appearance of flowers instantly gives the impression of habitation and that this is a space for people to be inspired make things happen. Flowers put a smile on peoples faces and its scent encourages visitors to hang around, find the right flowers to implement into your booth for a cohesive finish.

Trees

Trees indicate life and a full-sized tree will definite be an eye opener as it is not often you see a full-sized tree at a trade show. Having a tree helps create an outdoor environment, it lets people imagine themselves being outside in nice weather relaxing in the shade. It acts as an oasis for people to escape and take a breather.

Planter boxes

Give planter boxes a function, rather than just there to have some greenery – integrate as part of your workspace area as a permeable screen. Planter boxes can look out of place if the style of it does not match your booth aesthetics, consider get the planter box custom made to really integrate it as part of your stand and it will look much more professional and thoughtfully considered.  

8. Handout Branded Tech

Technology is used on a daily basis, add branding on it is a great way to help your visitors remember you – make the most out of it by integrating engaging graphics to make them want to keep using your branded tech hand out. 

Powerbanks

Powerbanks are great to help keep devices powered up so they can keep powering through the day.

Speakers

Speakers are great for playing back music so your customer can stay motivated.

Drones

Drones are a fun toy for your clients to loosen up and take a break from their job so they can come back revitalized.

9. Gamify the experience with Challenges

Challenges generate hype and usually that is a trigger for large crowds, to make a challenge exciting you can offer prizes for top scorers. Depending on the type of expo you are exhibiting at, you can make it simple such as a spin the wheel type of activity or you make it more complex by getting customers to participate in console games such as race car driving (this will suit better at gaming expos where visitors are more familiar with consoles). 

10. Equip your Booth with High Tech

If you are expecting tech savvy crowds to attend your event, then make sure you utilise the latest technology to capture attention – create engaging content and offer fun activities to get everyone involved so they have an experience to remember.

AR/VR

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are consistently getting developed, so make sure you are offering something which is new and exciting for people to rave about. It is very effective integrating these techs at trade shows because people who attend are most likely aware of this tech, but just have not experienced it, give them the opportunity, and make it memorable for them.

Holograms

Holograms are another type of unique technology you can utilise at your next event; they can come in the form of a fan with LEDS that spin to make a floating image or can come in the form of a projection. Holograms are usually used in movies, so if a visitors get a chance to see this in person it will definitely wow them.

Touchscreens

Touchscreens gives the user a chance to digitally interact with your product, rather than letting them watch a screen with a video on loop, they will get the control it themselves and navigate different settings to see what they are interested in.

Conclusion

There you have it, a list of 10 creative ideas which you can try at your next trade show. The trick is to pick the ones that will best compliment your booth and your core business, in the customers eyes it should be viewed as a seamless integration which naturally flows that results in a consistent and professionally finished booth. Each time you try something new, try to keep a log or note down statistics to see how they performed so that you can make a well-informed decision for how you should approach your next exhibition event.

About the Author

Rick Newman is the Founder and Managing Director of UCON Exhibitions – Leading Custom Exhibition Stand Design and Construction Company in Australia. Passionate about all things Trade Shows and how b2b events can grow businesses.