Expand Tips from the Experts: Get Your Booth to Stand Out Against the Competition

Susan_VHi, my name is Susan and I am part of the Marketing Department at Expand.

There are 2 areas to focus on when planning a trade show: How to get people to your booth and how to evaluate trade show participation after the event. Today I’d like to talk about getting people to your booth.

Read my below post about getting your booth to stand out against the competition!

Getting Your Booth to Stand Out
In order to get people to come to your booth, you need to capture their attention in a way that makes you stand out against your competitor’s booths. There are a lot of different booths set up at a trade show venue and trade show attendees are often overwhelmed. With all of this over-stimulation, how do you get people to want to stop by your booth?

Here are some tips to help you stand out against your competition at a trade show:

1. Break a Rule
This technique involves thinking outside the box to go against the normal “rules” that keep many companies from stepping outside their comfort zones. By bringing people out of their comfort zones, you can make an immediate impact. Once you establish your audience, you can connect and communicate in any way you choose. 1

For example, you can use larger-than-life objects in your booth, slant your walls, or even change the variance height in your booth. (Although some shows have rules about the variance height of your booth, some will allow it and it doesn’t hurt to ask. The worst that they can say is “no”.) By not confining yourself to these usual “rules” that most people adhere to, you can make small changes that will help you to stand out.

Using slanted walls or adding larger than life objects are ways to break the usual “rules” that people conform to at trade shows and help your booth stand out against the competition.

 2. Use Humor
Serious trade show exhibiting is expected and quite honestly, a little boring.  A light-hearted approach to trade show marketing is surprising and refreshing. When communicating with a general audience, you can often achieve more with humor than with a serious approach. Humor establishes rapport, breaks down walls, establishes openness and will grab people’s attention long enough that they will want to stop by your booth.

The humor used when marketing your trade show booth doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud funny, just something that is a little out of the ordinary. For example, Expand recently attended a healthcare show, and gave out Swedish fish and chocolate candies as a giveaway. It was a little humorous to give out candy at a healthcare show, and it also made us stand out as none of the other booths were doing this. It was a little unexpected and amusing. Everyone came up to the Expand booth saying, “I hear you’re giving out Swedish fish!” Then since people were already at our booth, they asked us who we are and what we do. We ended up handing out a lot of brochures and capturing a lot of leads from the event.

The Expand Booth at the HCEA healthcare show.

3. Get People to Interact at Your Booth
Today, people are so bombarded with marketing messages that they want to avoid companies who are trying to sell them something with the same old message. This is especially true at a trade show, where everyone is trying to scan their attendee badge or sell them the same thing. In order to rise above this over-stimulation, you need to think of a creative solution that will capture trade show attendees’ attention. One way to do this is to create an experience within your booth space. 2

Most people are not going to stop by your booth if there is nothing to do. Instead try doing something interactive. Have a fun with this! If you have fun, your clients will have fun too. For example, a sports drink company created an interactive booth setup where people could participate in climbing a rock wall, punching a punching meter, and using an ad-lifting pulley bar. Then at the end of the day, everyone who participated could come back to the booth to receive a free sports drink.

Another example is when companies use interactive touch screens or when they use technology to create a “virtual reality” inside their booth space.  A music company, Polk Audio, created a band inside of a sound-proof booth.Instead of people walking by and ignoring their message, people came inside the booth to listen to the music, which lead to a spike in demos and the company was able to collect thousands of email addresses from people who entered their booth. 3

Touchscreen technology is one way to get people to interact at your booth.

Of course, you may not have the budget to afford this high-tech software for your booth. That’s okay! There are other things that you can plan that will bring people to your booth, such as a giveaway or a drawing for a chance to win a free item. Create a game that they can play at the booth or ask them trivia questions for a chance to win a prize. Anything that helps the attendees engage will help with your booth presence and draw more people.

4. Use a Dramatic Booth Setup
Being dramatic with your booth setup is a great way to get it to stand out and to grab the attention of passers-by. Weave a story, and then tell it through your structure.  Use bright colors and artwork that attendees will remember. Unique items that are out of the ordinary also help play up the drama of your booth. Think larger than life elements, possibly suspended from overhead.

And don’t forget the lighting! When a visitor comments on a booth being dramatic, it is almost always because the exhibit was well lit. A well-lit stand in an exhibit hall creates a welcoming atmosphere and attracts more visitors to your booth. Direct the light to what you want your visitors to see and consider incorporating a backlit wall or lightbox to highlight a product or message.

A well-lit booth attracts more visitors & helps your message stand out.

What if you have a limited budget?
You can still create a great booth setup on a limited budget. Most of what I mentioned in the above guidelines doesn’t require a huge budget. For example, changing the variance height on your booth shouldn’t cost you much extra. You can also have giveaways at your booth that are not expensive, such as candy. Keep in mind, one way to stick to a trade show budget is to only send employees who need to be at the show. Downsize the team of people attending to the main decision makers or key sales people to save money on travel, hotels and meals. Then that money saved can instead be used toward your booth layout and finding ways to attract visitors to your booth.

*Remember, in order be able to think outside the box when designing your booth, you will have to start planning your booth layout early. Click here to see some of Expand’s ready-made booth setups to help you get started >>

It’s also important to “Reality Check” your ideas early on when you start creating your booth setup. No one wants to have an idea of how their booth will be set up and then find out two weeks before the event that it cannot work in their booth space.4

Use the 3-D Display Builder Tool to Create Your Own Booth Setup!  >>

Once you get people to come to your booth, you also want to make sure that you accurately capture the leads from the show. Stay tuned for my next post, where I will discuss how to measure trade show participation and accurately track all of the leads from your event!


1. Leo Boczar, The Skapa Group, presentation at Exhibitor FastTrak conference www.linkedin.com/in/lboczar
2. Studio North: www.studionorth.com/blog/3-ways-to-make-your-event-booth-a-buzzing-interactive-crowd-magnet 
3. Exhibitor Magazine: www.exhibitoronline.com/topics/article.asp?ID=1738
4.  Joe Federbush, Evolio Marketing, presentation at Exhbitor Fast Trak conference http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=205331

I hope that you found this information helpful.
Click here to see additional Tips on the Expand Blog!

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