Did your last trade show fail to meet your expectations? While trade shows can produce a huge return on investment if done right, it often only takes one or two small mistakes to seriously hurt your booth’s effectiveness.
From an uninspiring heading to banners that just don’t match your brand, small design mistakes can have a significant negative impact on your results from a trade show.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common trade show booth design mistakes. We’ve also explained how these mistakes can hinder your success, with some simple tips to help you get the most from your next trade show exhibit.
Using headings that are too complicated
Is your headline long and overly complicated? On average, you have about three seconds to capture the attention of a trade show attendee, making it important that your display headings are short, tight and punchy.
As a general rule, your graphics should feature about five to 10 words explaining your product or service. Add your social media usernames or URLs, an eye-catching image and (if required) a brief section of copy and you’ve got all you need for a successful banner.
Remember, it’s the job of your hosts and sales representatives to sell your products and turn visitors into leads — all your banners need to do are attract attention and generate foot traffic.
Choosing artistic, unusual typefaces
While artistic, unusual typefaces can look good on a restaurant menu or business card, they’re generally not a good choice for trade shows. Why? Because the more a font strays from simple lettering, the harder it is to read and understand from a distance.
This mistake often affects small businesses, particularly arts-and-crafts businesses and small brands that want to portray themselves as quirky and unique.
The easiest way to avoid making this mistake is to keep your font selection straightforward and conservative. Pick an eye-catching, sans-serif font for your headings and subheadings to stand out as much as possible while retaining optimal readability.
Not using booth lighting effectively
Lighting plays a huge role in your rental booth success, both from an aesthetic and results-focused standpoint. Despite this, many trade show exhibitors (particularly small businesses) ignore the importance of lighting, often until after their first trade show.
It’s absolutely essential that your booth is lit properly. On average, you should have one light every two to three feet, illuminating either your graphics or your demo products. If you’re just getting started with trade show marketing, try asking your exhibit supplier for lighting help.
Used well, a good set of halogen booth lights can make your exhibit “pop” and stand out from the crowd, helping you attract more attention, generate more foot traffic and achieve a higher return on investment from your next trade show.
Choosing tiny, barely readable text
Have you ever squinted and strained your eyes to read small text on a brochure, booklet or product package? Reading small text can be a serious challenge, especially for people with less-than-perfect vision.
One of the most common trade show exhibit graphic design mistakes is choosing text that’s overly small and difficult to read from afar. As a result, many would-be prospects will pass by your booth out of frustration that they can’t read the displays effectively.
As a general rule, a text should be a minimum of one inch in height in order to be readable from three feet away. This means that you’ll need to print text that’s at least six inches in height for your booth to be readable from an 18-20 foot distance.
Forgetting about the importance of images
Images can make or break your , making it essential that you spend the right amount of time selecting eye-catching, effective images to use in your displays.
Many exhibitors treat images as an afterthought, hurriedly picking a stock image to “finish” their booth as the event approaches. A far better strategy is to implement images into your design at the beginning of the process for a more natural, eye-catching look.
There are several rules to keep in mind when choosing images for your trade show exhibit. First, make sure they’re high resolution, as low-resolution images will look blurry when blown up to the dimensions of a trade show banner.
Second, choose an image that stands out while adding value to your exhibit. Authentic images of consumers actually using your products will almost always outperform generic stock photos, making it worth investing in a custom photo or two for your display.