When you’re at a tradeshow your booth is not just a 10’ x 10’ home away from home. It’s your chance to make a good first impression.  Whether you’re on a big budget or one that’s nearly non-existent consider the following when setting up your booth:

  1. Consider traffic patterns.

    Before you even start unpacking your display consider your traffic patterns.  Where are the entrances and big booths located?  From which direction do you think visitors will most likely view your booth?  You’ll want to make sure your signage, giveaways and TV are all easily seen from the direction of your traffic.

  2. Use tall tables and chairs when you can.

    People generally stay standing when having a conversation with you about your business, so a tall table and chairs feels more natural, less formal spot to gather and have a chat.

  3. Remove or hide the normal size chairs.

    Do you answer your front door from a chair?  Do you stand up when guests enter a room?  Yes?  Ok the same rules apply in your booth.  The people working your booth should be standing when manning the booth unless they have some ailment which requires them to sit. Without going too far down the psychology rabbit hole, you don’t want visitors to feel like they’re in a power position when walking into your booth.  It’s awkward. Don’t make visitors feel like they’re interrupting you, meet them where they are – standing up.

  4. Leave it open.

    DO NOT PUT YOUR TABLE IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR BOOTH.  It’s not a desk, it’s a table. This isn’t your office, it’s a living room. You’re not going to sit behind it and we already talked about why.  So it doesn’t belong in the middle of your booth.  You can push it to the back, or turn it lengthwise and stretch the table down either side of the booth.  You can even place it diagonally in a corner.   I will publicly shame you and post a photo of your booth on social media if I see it in the middle of your booth #boothshaming.  Just don’t.

  5. Arrange signage in multiple heights.

    You’ll do this for a two reasons, first, it’s adds interest.  Second, it creates more realestate to show off your message. Arrange your signage from tall in the back to short in the front.  It may be different from each side of your booth.

  6. Strategically place your giveaways.

    A tradeshow isn’t about giving away free stuff.  It’s about having conversations that build relationships and lead to business.  Arrange your giveaways with this in mind. Put the big hitting giveaways near the back of your booth or position your booth staff next to them.   Make people work for the big giveaways, have them play a game or answer a survey question or two.  At the very least visitors can ask for them so you can decide if you want to start a conversation.   A bowl of candy, pens or other less expensive items can satisfy trick-o-treaters place them up front for easy access. Make sure your giveaways don’t leave your booth feeling cluttered. You don’t need to display every knickknack you have.  Put out a few so people know you have them to give away but not so many that it seems overwhelming.

  7. Don’t hide the trash can.

    If you’re offering treats with wrappers put the waste basket out where people can find it…next to the treats.  But even if treats aren’t on your menu consider putting the trash can in a place where people will find it, especially if your neighboring booths don’t.  Then you’ll have the opportunity to talk to people as look for a place to throw items away.  Being helpful is a great segue conversation.

  8. Draw attention to your booth.

  • A rug or change of flooring is a subtle way to subconsciously bring attention to your booth.
  • Always place a tablecloth on all tables, to grab attention consider selecting tablecloths matching your brand color scheme yet different in color from the standard offering.
  • Position slideshows or videos where visitors can see them. The movement is eye catching and draws attention to your booth.
  • Consider extra lighting if your booth is in a dark corner.  Even a floor lap or table lamp is better than a nothing and the light will invite visitors to your booth.

After you’re done arranging take a step back and evaluate:

  • Can you see the movement from the TV?
  • Can you read the most important parts of your signage?
  • Is the booth well lit?  Do you need to add any lighting?
  • Is the booth open, can people walk in and have a conversation
  • Does it stand out among your neighbors?
  • Can you see the giveaways?
  • Does your booth feel clean and organized, not cluttered?

Now snap a photo.

If you love your booth set up take a photo.  That way you can brag about it on social media and more importantly keep it on hand for your next tradeshow so you have a template to start from next time.

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