If you sell a physical B2B product and you are not displaying it at trade shows, you are really blowing it. Exhibitor Magazine estimates that 80% of their exhibiting subscribers manufacture physical products. From a selling standpoint, that’s an obvious reason to exhibit at a trade show -- businesses want to roll out new products and feature existing ones to potential buyers. However, look at it from the buyers’ standpoint. Think about why they are even AT trade shows. They are there because they want to see the latest and greatest, they want to touch and see and try the products for themselves, they want to compare different companies’ products all together. And THIS is why you need to get yourself to a trade show. If you don’t display your products at a trade show, you are out of the running for potential buyers who make their buying decisions primarily at those venues.
If the reason you haven’t jumped into the trade show life is related to displaying your product, you’ve come to the right place. Sometimes, the type or size of product causes challenges in displaying it. Well, help is on the way!
Over the years of tracking the more than 10,000 trade shows in North America alone, we’ve seen everything. Hundreds of thousands of products displayed in every imaginable fashion. To begin designing an effective display space for your products, start by asking yourself a few pertinent questions:
- Are your products big, small, multiple sizes?
- Will they be static or will they be demo’d?
- How many of each do you plan to bring?
- Do they sit on the floor? On shelves? Racks? Tables?
- Do you have a new product or a product you’d like to feature?
- Will you need to lock up your products or secure them in some way?
- Will you need a power source?
- Do you have products that are not physical?
- Do you have a service product you are promoting?
Thinking about the answers to these questions will help you narrow down what you need to consider when creating a display. Below are 8 more ideas to further help you design your space effectively and display your products attractively:
- LESS IS MORE. Don’t bring too many products or too much inventory to a trade show. Exhibits that overflow with product create a cluttered look that can be a physical and mental barrier to your customers. Clients are much more likely to visit and stay at a booth where products are displayed neatly and there is space to see (and breathe) around the products. Think of it as a silverware drawer – where everything is in its neat place, easy to find, like with like. An overstuffed booth is more like a junk drawer, and no one wants to be part of that mess. To avoid creating a cluttered, messy booth, decide what your biggest sellers or hot new products are and just bring those. This nugget of advice is proven; many exhibitors boast of their increased sales after making this one change.
- LIGHT IT UP. I can’t say this enough. Lights are the simplest, cheapest, easiest, best way to highlight anything. If your products are the superstar of your booth, then extra lighting is the way to make them shine. There are lots of way to do this – use a spotlight or two on star products, uplight shelves and display cases, or light blast your entire booth if products are scattered throughout. Brightening and lightening your booth and specific products is a natural way to draw attention to your brand.
- BUILD A SET. If your products lend themselves to it, create an environment that reflects where the products will be used. The bigger the booth, the bigger your set can be. If you have a large booth, you can manipulate the architecture of it. But even images on graphics or a smaller set with your products on it help signal to the buyer that they are “home.” These are some of my favorite booths to visit because they are easy to “connect” with. There’s a reason why furniture stores replicate home settings when displaying their furniture – it features their product better and it speaks to the customers.
- DEMO YOUR PRODUCTS. There’s no more effective way to draw potentials in, engage prospects, and leave a memorable impression than to demo a product. A well-done demo literally stops traffic. The ability to demo a product is a primary advantage of trade shows. You are there; your buyers are there; it’s showtime! Invest some time in creating a great demo and then practice, practice, practice it! Once you’ve done that, you can determine your design around your demo.
- DON’T FORGET THE BIG GUNS. Your large products are already eye-catching because of their sheer size, but don’t forget to feature them with design components. Because bigger products usually sit on the floor, you might need a hanging sign or tower to define the product space and promote your brand. A small pedestal that lifts the product a few inches gives it an important, center stage, “featured” look. Kiosks placed next to large products serve as a design line and also an attractive way to inform attendees of a product’s features and benefits.
- DON’T FORGET THE LITTLE GUYS. Sometimes smaller, hard-to-see products can prove a little tricky to display. The best way to do that is to make them larger than life. Use large graphics that show them being used. Film a demo of the product beforehand and project it onto large monitors in your booth. Hang or mount a huge graphic of just the product, making it prominent in your booth.
- MOUNT IT. If you have products that are heavy or valuable, you’ll need to secure them, both for your protection and your attendees’ safety. This also goes for displays that are arranged in stacks or pyramids that could easily topple if bumped. You can mount products directly onto a wall, whether small or large. Small to medium-sized products are often mounted in arrangements, but the entire arrangement can also be mounted. Supporting graphics surrounding the mounted products are a great way to draw attention. If you have a very valuable product that is small and might be easily lifted or misplaced, consider some kind of enclosure or mounted case to display it in.
- TOOT YOUR HORN. “It sells itself!” How often have we heard this?! While we’d all like to think our products sell themselves, they just don’t. So use your display to brag on the specific benefits. Do your products last longer? Cost less? Use less energy? Are they more efficient? More attractive? More versatile? Tell their story with graphics and/or AVtech.
Maybe your product is non-physical or it’s a service, and you’re bummed because you think you’re at a disadvantage for displaying it. Just because you don’t have a physical product to show, doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can still use graphics and AV to communicate what your product is, what it does, and why people need it.
Using the 8 tips above, Skyline Exhibitor Source has designed exhibits for all kinds of manufacturing clients. Take a look at these displays and how we made the most out of their specific situations to give them a great look!
Divine Light: Divine Light has multiple, smaller sized products. Grouping their products in like bundles and having a central focus makes their display inviting and attractive.
Pure & Basic: Bold lifestyle graphics and elegant exhibit architecture enhance this product display. Notice how the products are almost secondary to the brand as the company seeks to convey an experience.
Grillfinity: Racks, shelving, and hanging bars display Grillfinity’s shiny stainless utensils, but the oversized graphics are what really highlight the product. Instead of getting lost in the booth because of their small size, the utensils are actually visually amplified.
Nature’s Path: Although they have hundreds of food packages on these shelves, Nature’s Path’s booth almost has a minimalist look to it because of the visual sameness of the packaging. Their organic food brand is well-known and their packaging is great, so they focused on a visual – store shelves lined with their product, making it easy for buyers to get a sense of how it would look.
Unitron: Bright, creative lighting and sleek display cases highlight small products like these hearing aids. The pop of color in the base subtly draws more attention to it, as well. Because the display cases are easily locked and secured, the valuable products are safe and sound.
Plasan: Carbon composite car parts mounted around the booth invite people to touch and feel the sleekness of the car itself. The real genius, though, is the red front quarter panel mounted directly over a line drawing of a Corvette.
Ludowici: It doesn’t take many of these heavy decorative clay roof tiles mounted around the booth to convey a sense of the product itself. Instead of bringing one of every type and style, they’ve selected a few for people to look at and then reserved the rest of the booth space for effective branding, a meeting space, and an AV presentation.
Solo Cup: Because everyone in North America already knows what a Solo cup, they minimized their product display, choosing instead to focus on lifestyle branding. The products are brought to life with larger-than-life graphics illustrating how people use them every day. Their graphics are broken into themes for their products – how they are convenient, environmentally-friendly, and so on.
SpashTacular: Good luck bringing a water park to a trade show, but Splashtacular nailed it on this simulated display. Moving lights simulate water and the “movement” of the semi-circular booth is a creative interpretation that captures the essence of their product.
Oldenburg Group: There’s no way to miss these huge machines taking up the floor space of this large island exhibit. And because of the large hanging graphics, there’s no way to miss you makes them. They’ve also incorporated large kiosks at the periphery of the island to tell their story as people approach, and small kiosks beside each machine to provide more information about it.
Kiian: Besides the corner portion of the booth which houses their large product, the entire rest of Kiian’s island booth is exhibit architecture. Tall waving structures reflect their branding. Elegant enclosed spaces encourage meetings. There is a lot going on in this large booth, but it still looks sleek, clean, and cohesive.
American Leather: It isn't hard to imagine enjoying American Leather’s furniture when you see a booth set up like this. They’ve set up their lovely, functional furniture as in a home. The exhibit structure gives the “home” walls and a ceiling with their signage, and they creative a unified design by repeating the same colors with their products and their graphics.
CoCalo: This exhibit features crib bedding. Overcoming the difficulty of how to display such a product, this CoCalo booth puts their products in the context of how they will actually be used by building a child’s bedroom set. All the furniture, toys, and decorations enhance the bedding, which is the primary product.
Diono: Medium-sized products are often displayed on shelves and pedestals. Here, Diono chooses to model their booth after a high-end retail store and put product on retail shelving. The information desk at the front of the booth mirrors a store’s cash register area.
L.J. Smith: Rather than show graphics of staircases, L. J. Smith chose to have an actual stair system in their booth. It’s life-size, if shortened, but each side has several examples of different rails and spools they use, so attendees can touch and feel their product. Besides the central, eye-catching staircase, they have information cases that flank the booth and offer more visuals and information about their offerings.
NSK: With many, many smart parts to display, NSK maximizes counter and wall space to show their products. Each part is organized, labeled, and well-it in showcases and counter mounts. The crisp white and clear materials enhance their branding of space-age technology.
Horn: The company’s small parts are mounted and labeled for easy info, but Horn went the extra mile and mounted them on people-shaped kiosks which tell each product’s story. Even though these are not real people, it somehow personalizes the experience and helps the customer connect with the product.
Lack Diamond: Their small, valuable products are showcased in a secure display case, backed up by a billboard-sized graphic that combines a message of their innovation with images of their best vertical market applications.
Pool-Trol: The first thing you notice about this booth is the smiling face of the young boy. Other eye-catching photos of happy swimmers are just as obvious as you move around the booth. This is a great way to brand a utilitarian product like pool chemicals. It’s hard to make them sexy on their own, but lifestyle branding is the way to go here.
Avon Protection: The large graphics of the products in use pull the viewer in to the booth. The well-placed products on uplit shelving invite attendees to take a closer look. Between the two is an AV presentation ready to go.
This article is inspired by "8 Tips to Better Display Your Products in Your Trade Show Booth" by Mike Thimmesch and first appeared at www.skyline.com