A few points to help you design better trade show graphics.

My grandfather used to say, “It’s good to learn from your mistakes… but it’s better to learn from someone else’s mistakes.” When you are designing trade show display graphics, the same applies… why not learn from others, not only from what they do wrong but also from what they do right. It’s also a good idea to get other people’s input on your own design before you spend the money to print it.

First let’s review the five “Golden Rules” of designing effective trade show display graphics.

RULE 1) Get noticed. You’ve only got a few seconds when a prospect walks by your booth. Use a colorful image or catchy tag line to catch their attention.

RULE 2) Show your company name prominently.

RULE 3) Let them know what you do.

RULE 4) State one benefit that you provide better than your competitors (e.g. patented product, lower prices, fast turnaround, guaranteed results, etc). Put another way, tell a prospect why they should stop and spend their valuable time talking to you.

RULE 5) Keep in simple. Don’t write a novel or expect your prospect to study your trade show display like it’s the Mona Lisa. Make your point simply and quickly, and then rely on talking to your prospect.

Now to apply and learn from these rules. Before you start designing your own trade show graphics, if you can, you should attend a trade show and walk around and evaluate all of the trade show displays. Ask yourself how well they meet the five Golden Rules, and which designs impress you the most. For those of you who don’t have the time and/or opportunity to attend a trade show, Pinnacle Trade Show Displays has a gallery of 100 real-life customer trade show display designs on their website. Click through and look at each of the designs, and decide which designs meet the five Golden Rules, and which ones are memorable. If you’re thinking, “one hundred designs is a lot to look at”, you’re right. Consider how much time you spend looking at each one (probably not much)? Then consider that at a typical trade show there are several hundred trade show booths. This should reinforce that most people won’t spend but a few seconds looking at your display. That’s why the five Golden Rules are so important. So look through the designs, learn from others, and then create your own design.

Once you’ve created your own trade show display design, you’re ready for the next step. First have someone at your company look at your design for 5 seconds. Then take it away or cover it up, and ask them (1) would they stop to look at your display, (2) what’s your company name, (3) what do you do, and (4) what’s one benefit that you can offer them. Since they work at your company, hopefully all of these questions are easy. Next, ask a vendor or customer to look at your design and do the same thing (now you’re asking someone familiar with your company, but who doesn’t work there). Did your design pass this test? Finally, ask someone completely unfamiliar with your company (your neighbor, the clerk at your local gas station, etc). Can they answer all of the questions? If they can, you have a winning design – if not, it’s back to the drawing board.

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