How to Choose the Best Trade Show Booth for Your Business

Would you ever consider opening a dollar store on Rodeo Drive? Of course not. No self-respecting ‘Rodeo-ite’ would be caught dead walking into a dollar store after stepping out of their Aston Martin that only gets driven on Tuesday!

They’d instantly become the laughing stock of all their friends, and celebrity gossip columnists would have a field day, right? Location is important. Location, location, location.

Trade show booth

photo credit: IAVM WHQ / Flickr

Here’s how to choose the perfect trade show booth, to maximize exposure and brand impact on all who’ll attend your next event:

Study the floor plan prior

If you have no clue how trade shows work, find someone who does who can go over the floor plan in advance with you and your team. If you don’t know anyone, hire a consultant for an hour. Knowing where everything and everyone, including competitors, will be located is key to trade show success. Every element, such as exhibit wall display panels, lighting, sound systems, etc., has the potential to help or hurt you.

For instance, you don’t want to be trying to wrangle people into a financial service’s booth when they’ve just finished buying a hot dog at the vendor in the booth next to you. Who wants to get into a conversation about their finances when they’re shoveling a hot dog and French fries in their mouth?

If you’re selling delicious all natural fruit smoothie-making machines, that location might just be perfect since their whistles will be wetted while eating a bunch of salty food. Also consider design elements of the space that can get in the way of the attendee’s view of your sign-age, etc., such as pillars and other obstructions.

Consider your true goals and needs for the event

What are you trying to achieve at the trade show? Are you trying to get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible? Or, do you need a larger, yet more intimate corner booth to bring people in and demonstrate your product to, or to talk about whatever initiative you’re trying to achieve?

Traffic flow is important, but you don’t want to get stuck in a high traffic area where people will be clamoring to get through, such as an entrance or exit area, unless it fits in with your goals and needs at the event.

Balance budget with psychology

High traffic areas like the booths located past the registration area; booths and demonstration areas in the center of the facility; and the wider aisles where people have room to walk and mingle, tend to have the highest price tags. They’re usually occupied by the companies with the biggest budgets too.

You may or may not be interested in spending the money, especially if this is your first event. However, consider that these prime spots have more of an impact on brand value perception (ie., how much money you’ve made so far).

You’ll have to work harder to get people on board with what you’re selling in the cheaper, less desirable areas. Sometimes the increased visibility is worth paying for, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Other times, you might want to appeal to more of a niche audience that will surely find you no matter where you’re located, making the added expense of higher-exposure areas a waste.

Trade show floor

photo credit: NECANET / Flickr

Make country-specific location choices

This is a tip that inexperienced trade show marketers can really benefit from. It’s super easy to employ, and studies show it to be very effective.

Consider what side of the road your ideal trade show attendee/prospect normally drives on. Europeans are typically drawn to booths situated on their left, while North Americans – big surprise – prefer booths on their right. In other words, if you’re a real estate firm trying to sell European-inspired homes in the foothills of California, the choice should be clear.

This tactic doesn’t necessarily pertain to attendees who laboriously plan their visit in advance, but can definitely be effective for those who take more of a seat-of-the-pants approach to trade show hopping.

Take persistent notes about each location you use

Taking notes about what you liked/disliked, the other brands at the show and their location, and the general flow of traffic at the event can pay dividends next year when you’re trying to decide on the right location. New vendors rarely get it right the first time around, and each trade show has its own unique sense of community and ‘Je ne sais quoi’ that you need to learn to be successful.

If there was something that got in the way, such as a support pillar, lounge area, sign-age, etc., you’ll know for next time, and be better able to assess the value of one booth location over another.

Final Thoughts

All these suggestions will be for naught if you don’t have a solid marketing plan to engage with visitors once you’re inside and all set up. Choosing a booth location is just the first critical step to organizing a successful trade show outing.

Factors like having an appealing booth design, choosing the right ambassadors/hosts for your brand, creating contests and other promotions, offering snacks and beverages, social media promotion prior to the event, and so much more, all play into drawing people into your booth at trade shows.

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