Custom Exhibit Design: When is it Worth it For Your Small Business?


You’ve successfully exhibited at a trade show, generating plenty of leads for your business and closing enough new deals to generate a positive ROI from the experience. Now, which direction should you go in?

After a positive experience at a trade show, it’s natural to want to expand your efforts and make trade shows a larger part of your marketing strategy. For growth-focused startups and small to mid-sized businesses, this means switching from a rental exhibit to a custom trade show booth.

Designing and building a trade show booth has several benefits for your business. However, it’s important to make sure you’re taking this step at the right time. Below, we’ve listed several ways to know when it’s time to invest in a custom exhibit for your growth-focused business.

You’ve had one or several successful trade show experiences

One of the biggest benefits of renting a trade show exhibit is that it lets you take part in an event without the cost of developing your own booth.

This means that even if your first trade show is a failure, your costs are minimized due to the low cost of renting a booth compared to designing and developing your own. It also means that your hurdle for generating a positive ROI is lower, allowing you to succeed even with fewer results.

Before you consider investing in your own trade show booth, it’s worth taking part using a rental exhibit at least once. This way, you’ll get a feel for trade show marketing without the upfront cost of starting your marketing efforts with your own custom exhibit.

Once you’ve had a positive experience, you can start to think about building a custom booth for your business. However, it’s important to have this initial baseline — without it, you could invest a significant amount of money in a marketing channel that isn’t right for your business.

In short, the more experience you have with trade shows — in particular, positive experience — the more likely you are to see positive results by investing in your own booth. However, if you’re just taking part for the first time, a rental exhibit might be a better solution.

You want to expand your trade show marketing efforts

One of the best reasons to upgrade from a rental booth to a custom booth is to expand and strengthen your trade show marketing efforts.

There are two ways to expand your trade show marketing results. The first is to take part in more events, increasing the amount of revenue you generate by getting out in front of more prospective clients and customers.

The second is to double down on your existing events and make a bigger impact through a larger, more attractive booth.

While rental booths are extremely flexible and customizable, they do have limits. From unique floor plans to unconventional displays, many of the aspects that make an exhibit special can be hard to realize in a rental booth.

If you’d like to improve your results and increase your presence by having a bigger impact at your existing events, switching from a rental exhibit to one that’s designed specifically for your business is a great strategy.

You can afford to design and build a custom exhibit

Custom exhibits aren’t cheap, with most booths requiring a significant budget to go from idea to reality. While few businesses lose money on trade show marketing over the long term, the costs of developing a booth can be significant for small businesses and startups.

Add storage, logistics and other related costs into the equation and developing your own custom trade show booth can be an expensive process, even if it’s destined to produce a significant ROI for your business.

If you’re a small, cash-strapped business, it could be best to avoid designing and creating your own custom trade show booth until you’ve got the cash flow to afford it. In the meantime, renting a booth could be a more cost-effective option.

After you’ve established a history of positive results from trade shows and have enough cash to design and build a great booth, you can take action. As always, it’s best to be cautious to ensure your business can afford the investment before you expand your trade show presence.

Your focus is long-term ROI, not just short-term results

Like other forms of marketing, trade shows deliver the best return on investment not in the days and weeks immediately following an event, but over the long term.

Because investing in your own trade show booth can significantly lower your long-term costs as an exhibitor, it’s an important step to take if you’ve made trade shows a key part of your growth and marketing strategy.

However, it’s important to design and build your booth with the right mentality. If your focus is to make the most of one event, renting might be your best option. If your goal is to get great results over several years of events, a custom booth can be an extremely valuable asset.

You have a vision that can’t be realized with a rental exhibit

Finally, another great reason to design and build a custom trade show exhibit is if your existing vision can’t be realized with a rental booth.

From size to design, rental booths have major limitations. If your goal is to stand out from the crowd and create something unique for your next trade show, there’s a major chance that you won’t be able to do this using a rental exhibit.

As such, investing in your own custom booth is a smart decision. From lounge-style seating to LCD displays, product demo areas and more, a complete custom booth gives you significantly more control over the look, feel and layout of your trade show booth.

Do you feel like you’ve outgrown your rental booth? If so, consider contacting our team. From 3D renders to a completed exhibit, we can guide you through the entire process of designing, building and showcasing your custom trade show booth.