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Event Recap: Creating an Impactful Trade Show Exhibit Environment

November 15, 2016

The Chicago Cubs and Nimlok Company’s Design Director, Dave Fugiel, have two things in common: first, they’re from Chicago; and second, they’re both winners – one of the World Series, and the other of designing show-stopping trade show booths. 

Dave recently joined us at the Embarq Creative office for an open house, where he offered some invaluable advice on how to create an impactful trade show exhibit environment.

If you weren’t able to join us for it, no sweat. Below, we’ve collected the top takeaways from Dave’s presentation:

There is too much scrambling in the trade show industry.

Good exhibits take time. But how much, exactly? Dave recommends allotting the following schedule alongside a trade show management company to execute your trade show booth effectively:

  • 1 month for initial planning, budgeting, and concepting
  • 5 months for developing and approving designs
  • 30 days to manufacture the exhibit
  • 14 days to ship the booth ahead of time (which is usually most cost-effective)
  • 2 days to set up the exhibit

Your trade show booth theme is about the experience.

A truly effective exhibit is immersive. It transports your attendees away from the trade show venue and places them in an environment that’s an extension of your brand.

That means the theme and design of your booth should be not just impressive, but also familiar. Dave argues that an exhibit theme consistent with your other properties – like your website, marketing collateral, and product – will help make your brand “come alive” at the expo, as well as create an experience your attendees won’t soon forget.

Technology has come a long way, and using it is no longer an option.

Technology isn’t what it used to be. Integrating interactive digital elements in your booth is a surefire way to make your exhibit come alive. And, with the rising popularity of trade show display rentals, these elements are more accessible than ever for trade show marketers.

Some of the newest, most exciting tech elements for your booth might include the following:

  • Clear touch screens
  • Virtual reality
  • Biometric headsets
  • Overhead projection and topographical tables
  • Artificial intelligence and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
  • Smartphone charging stations
  • Curved screens
  • Interactive games

Let there be light! (But not too much) 

Lighting can make or break your exhibit. In the United States, trade shows tend to emphasize the “big and bright” factor. But Dave believes there’s value to creating a more intimate setting with your lighting, too.

Try this: Install a faux ceiling at your trade show exhibit with downlighting to create a comfortable, living room-style environment for attendees. Then, integrate strategic uplighting underneath counters and at other key locations in your booth to infuse an extra level of drama.

With your exhibit design, less is more.

You have only about 3 seconds to attract and engage trade show goers. The most effective way to get your message across is by using fewer words, and more focused, high-impact graphics.

At your booth, develop a theme wrapped around your brand message, your products, or a specific campaign. Remember, a trade show is not a flea market. You don’t need to represent every single product or service your company offers. Take it from Dave: The most effective trade show booths are clear and focused.

The materials and fabric structures you choose matter.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, the materials used in your booth send a message to expo attendees. For example, by building elements of your exhibit with bamboo, you could communicate with your visitors your commitment to environmental sustainability.

But the fabrics and materials you use may factor even more directly to your ROI. Never before have trade show marketers had such a wide range of material options to choose from. Between tension fabrics, cardboard, and even high-quality paper, you can create drama and unique architecture at your trade show booth without the intimidating costs of the past.

From floor to ceiling, your entire exhibit space is important for a successful exhibition. And when your materials align with each of the other tips Dave offers, magic can happen.

In short, what does Dave recommend for an impactful exhibit environment? Come prepared, explore your options, and build a booth that reflects your brand. Take a look at our work for a glimpse at what this game plan can produce.