Tag Archives: Booth

Top 10 Signs You Need a New Tradeshow Booth or Graphic Design

The situations on this list, while presented with humor, lead to results which are anything but funny. Unfortunately, we have seen (and corrected) every one of these mistakes over the last 15 years!

If you can’t read through it without a glimmer of recognition — chances are you are coming up short on achieving the trade show results you are looking for.

Top 10 Signs You Might Need a New Booth

We’ll work our way up from number 10 in classic late-night TV Top 10 List fashion.

#10 A sure sign you need to get a new booth is when you have clients saying “You do that?” even after just seeing you at the trade show where you announced a new product or service.

#9 A sign it’s past time for a revamp is when your booth sports a color scheme — and logo — that’s been changed, at least twice, since.

#8 You might be ready for a new booth if you’ve gotten tired of watching your competitors essentially open their arms and put their booth up in two minutes when it takes you an hour or two and a ladder.

Or your competitors have one of the hybrid fabric and extrusion models that only look like they require paying for labor from the general contractor, and you are paying for setup, with overtime too.

#7 A sign the timing is perfect for a new booth is you’ve just made a big move like purchasing another company or snagging some major clients, and you want to step up the style of your display to replace the same-old, same-old pop up you’ve relied on for years.

#6 An obvious sign is when your boss finally admits that his wife’s nephew did the design for a school project.  Or your marketing agency designed it when they did your brochures — and they look exactly the same, only the brochures work and the trade show booth design does not.

(Hint: you’re not saving money by using someone who does not know how to create impact with trade show graphics. You will have to pay to replace them to get the results you are looking for!)

#5 A painful sign (and maybe no one is telling you) is when your sales people or field marketing reps won’t put up the display you think they’re using. It weighs more than they do or is so difficult to set up, it cuts into their face time with prospects. Or they have decided it requires too much effort to explain its message, and the inflexible booth layout does not allow easy adaptation for their specific audiences or product lines.

#4 Another reason it could be time to reconsider your booth design is when people keep asking if you’re a startup — and you’re not. Or you are a startup with great new ideas and everyone sees the same stock photographs they see on other booths, so they don’t pay any attention to you.

#3 You know you need to get out of a rut when you get lost coming back from the bathroom, or prospects ask for help in finding your company.  This means, your booth looks too much like everyone else’s, your company name or tagline does not stand out, and even you can’t read most of its overly small print when you’re standing next to it.

#2 A truly bad sign that you need a new booth is — it’s not doing its job. Instead of connecting with leads pre-qualified by its message, you end up talking to the wrong people.

And the #1 most obvious and most worrisome sign that you need a new booth is when people pause, stare at your display, then look at you and ask, “So what is it you do anyway?”

Do you find yourself agreeing — or even suspecting — that any of these situations describes your own booth?

Take a look at our range of portable trade show displays or modular trade show exhibits – or give us a call to talk about updating your booth graphics.

We want you to get new prospects, expand your current client relationships, and be a trade show exhibiting success!  We provide the expertise of an exhibit house without the overhead. Reach out today for help assessing your current situation.


Deborah Elms is a co-founder of Imprinted Originals, a division of The Originals Group.  She is passionate about helping new and growing businesses create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & events.

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/D_Elms
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahelms

Website: http://www.imprintedoriginals.com


Ready for Fall Tradeshows? An Exhibit Manager Checklist

It’s not really true that tradeshows go away for the summer and suddenly come to life in the fall. But folks might be excused for thinking that. Spring and Fall tend to be when the largest and most important industry shows are held, often featuring important marketing initiatives such as new product announcements or movement into new markets.

As a result, it’s important to review existing booth properties for fit and effectiveness before each new season. We’re working with a lot of folks in the middle of this preparation.

But of course, there’s a whole lot more to preparing for what’s coming up.

Just in case anyone needs a quick jog of the memory, a reality check if you will, of the myriad of things needing attention, here’s a short checklist  (see related topics below if you need help with anything listed):


  • Booth is in good repair, appropriate, and successful
  • Booth components – retain, replace or upgrade
  • Update or target message for upcoming audiences
  • Professional design and assessment of effectiveness


  • Presentation, demo, video, slides
  • Printed collateral or digital marketing media
  • QR code, text, RFID marketing
  • Tiered promotional giveaways


  • Booth space, registration, services & shipping forms
  • Staffing selection, transportation and housing
  • Installation and dismantle requirements, instruction or hiring
  • Shipping, tracking and payment


  • Speaking, networking and sponsorship opportunities
  • Preparation of follow-up materials (emails, letters, packages)
  • Meetings arranged with clients & top prospects
  • Announcements via email, postal, trade journal, PR, social media
  • Plan/prep for lead gathering, management, tracking


You didn’t dive into the tasks listed above without being clear on the purpose and strategy for your upcoming shows, did you?

  • Determination of product management, marketing and sales goals
  • Specific, measurable objectives
  • Timelines
  • Budget
  • Assessment of prior results
  • Areas targeted for increased effectiveness

How Can We Help?

If you’ve worked with Imprinted Originals before, you know we are proud of being multi-line distributors of portable display products and modular exhibit systems and components that produce the same results as custom exhibit house booths.

Being multi-line means we’re not attached to any particular style or model.  Nor are your options limited to what we can produce or have on hand.

Our goal is to help you find the solution which matches your goals.  And can be used flexibly as you need to expand, contract or modify your booth.

We also offer professional graphic design that knows how to fulfill “the 3 jobs of a tradeshow booth or exhibit“.

And we’re really good at helping folks assess and update their tradeshow marketing strategies and the things they are doing to make them happen (Tradeshow Services).

So – here’s to a great tradeshow season this Fall.  Feel free to read our tips, browse our website (a new one is coming which will feature our modular offerings), or reach out for ideas or guidance.


Related Posts:

A Tradeshow Booth’s 3 Jobs: Proper Design Leads to Success





TRADE SHOW EXHIBITORS DO’S AND DON’TS (includes booth staff tips)



Deborah Elms is passionate about helping businesses and organizations create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & other face-to-face events.  She heads up the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  You can follow her on twitter at @D_Elms.

Visit Imprinted Originals for more information.


Directors Chairs: Holiday Gift or A Way to Improve Tradeshow Results?

I’m only partly speaking tongue-in-cheek in suggesting a Directors Chair as a holiday gift. One of our clients, who finally replaced an endless stream of rentals with a portable display, received a chair the following holiday season from a grateful staff.

Such a “gift” to your sales or field marketing staff — or yourself, if that’s your role — could likewise be considered a gift to your organization by helping achieve your tradeshow or event objectives.

Let’s get this over first — it’s always better to be standing rather than sitting in your tradeshow booth. It shows you’re available — ready to walk over, shake hands and start a conversation.

Sometimes, however, you’re faced with a multi-day show and not enough staff on hand to rotate as you’d like, or there are gaps when attendance in the exhibit hall lags. And let’s face it, sometimes we just need to take a load off, and give our legs and feet a break.

Even so, you don’t want to have anyone sitting in your booth in a regular height chair, especially slouching behind a table.

It sends the wrong message. It says someone is much more interested in their own comfort than their visitors. In addition, a table creates a moat between you and your visitors. It causes doubt that you really want someone to stop and talk with you.

A Directors Chair will set up a different dynamic.

The height of a Directors Chair positions you at or near a standing elevation, signaling a willingness to engage, so anyone entering your space will feel more comfortable approaching you.

At the same time, after grabbing a brief break, you — or your staff — will be prepar moved ed to handle visitors to your booth in a more energized, friendly, and professional manner. The result will be not only greater comfort, but almost certainly a larger pool of qualified leads.

So, call it a holiday gift or not, but both booth staff and show results can benefit from bringing a Directors Chair or two into your booth!

Directors Chairs and Stools Made in the USA

We have a very special relationship with an American manufacturer of Directors Chairs and  wooden stools that we rely on because they provide great quality, a lot of options, and excellent service. We truly like being able to offer their products to our clients.

Custom-made to order in the USA using American Beech hardwoods, these chairs are available in 3 styles and 3 heights (the 24 in. and 30 in. being recommended, as mentioned above).

By adding a logo or message using one of four decoration methods (embroidery, screen printing, thermal and photo film transfer) and selecting from a range of material colors and frame finishes, your chair will fit into any environment.

If you agree that giving your sales or field marketing staff — or yourself — a directors chair would make a worthy gift and also help achieve your goals at upcoming tradeshows and events, there’s still plenty of time!

Ready to take a look?



Deborah Elms, CEO of Imprinted Originals, will be co-presenting at the HIA (Hauppauge Industrial Association)’s Pre-Trade Show Seminar on April 28th.

Her topic will be “Effective Exhibiting – Designing Your Graphics and Setting Up Your Booth For Success”.

Other presenters will include:  Arthur Germain, Principal & Chief Brandteller- Communication Strategy Group & Rich Isaac, President- Sandler Sales Long Island.  Additional information on tradeshow setup and organization will be provided by the HIA Staff; Marty Greenstein- Event Pros Group; and Adam Michelin- SmartSource.

Note: The Hauppauge Industrial Association is the largest industrial park East of the Mississippi.  It will be holding its 22nd Annual Long Island Business Trade Show and Conference on May 27:  http://www.hia-li.org



Rentals vs Purchase

Rentals can be a cost effective approach to tradeshow exhibiting at any time.  Renting all or even components with a booth is one way to cope with decreased cash flow during challenging economic times.

How can you tell if renting makes sense for you?

The essential considerations include: the opportunities and challenges, what to look for, and what kinds of things you can consider renting (and from where).

The Opportunities of Renting

Rentals can provide monetary savings and / or increased flexibility.

Monetary savings:

  • A lower cost in the short term
  • Lowers bar on “return” required for given show
  • Lessens cost when testing new shows or new markets
  • Spreads costs over time

Increased Flexibility:

  • Makes it easier to handle overlapping shows
  • Experiment with different styles and approaches
  • May decrease storage requirements
  • May decrease or simplify shipping arrangements

The Potential Challenges of Renting

  • Can increase long-term costs
  • May limit customization (especially without support in planning)
  • Possible minor increase in setup time (less of a challenge if graphics are pre-installed where appropriate and then removed prior to return)
  • Exhibit staff must have good relationship & support system from supplier
  • May run into quality issues (see: existing relationship with reliable supplier)

What To Look For in Rental Options:

  • Rent-to-purchase options
  • Sufficient time to become accustomed to setup, if needed
  • Flexibility in shipping arrangements
  • Professional design skills for graphic customization
  • Able to continue to use current design & support teams for continuity & reliability
  • Options and guidance on what to rent vs purchase

What can be rented?

More than you probably think.

In most cases, the “hard goods” of exhibiting: booth structures, the frames for backwalls, display hardware, counters, floor carpeting, furniture, etc.

You can also rent attractive non-branded elements, including Tension Fabric Shapes to set off your existing design, establish “flow” within your booth space and set the stage for in-booth appointment, presentation or demonstration areas.

What you cannot rent is what you would not want to rent: your graphic design materials.  Depending on your overall tradeshow and event marketing plan, you may be able to reuse all or parts of your graphic design elements at upcoming shows.

Who provides rentals?

The most expensive rentals are usually from the general contractor associated with your show, but the fat charges are somewhat offset by ease and decreased shipping costs.

You can rent some options such as lounge furniture from specialty rental suppliers.

Where to Start?

Ask.   If you are considering rental options, we’ll help you sort through your alternatives for what makes most sense for you.

Many of our product lines, from highly portable to island displays, can be rented.  We also have relationships with “custom rental” facilities near larger convention cities, and can help you evaluate other product and service providers as well.



There’s a lot to designing a tradeshow display.  Start by understanding these 5 key points, and you’ll be on your way to a better discussion with your large format graphic designer.

Key #1: “Seize the Moment”
Three to six seconds. That’s how long it takes for someone to walk past your booth. A well-designed booth will actually help attendees “pre-qualify” themselves by doing three essential things quickly: capture the attention of appropriate prospects, set the tone for future interactions, and signal to others not to stop.

Key #2: “Know What You Want”
Before design can begin, you must identify your goals for the show, establish what success will mean, select your target audience, and define your message or theme.

Is your primary goal increasing market share? Introducing new products? Extending product awareness? Does success mean exposure to the most people? Or just to those who match your best prospect profile?

Key #3: “Design With The End in Mind”
Everything in your booth must reflect the message you have chosen. Your theme could be about a product, your company’s profile, or a specific benefit to your clients.

Let’s say your theme is “Working With Us Is Like Taking A Vacation”. This will drive a number of decisions besides your graphical design – ranging from clothing to lighting to giveaways and even possibly the equipment in your booth. Develop a plan with your vendor based on your goals, target audience, type of show, and budget. It is far better to have one simple, well-developed theme than a hodge-podge of splashy effects.

Key #4: “Don’t Confuse Booth Design With Anything Else!”
Your booth is not a brochure. Don’t include too many details and don’t overdo fancy fonts or effects. It’s also not an advertisement.

Don’t expect your booth to “sell” – trade shows are rarely about closing deals on the spot.  It is there to start a dialog between you and appropriate prospects.  Or to inform current customers about new ways you can serve them.

Be wary of having the same person who did your brochure or web design trying to tackle designing your display.  There are different design principles.  Make sure they understand “large format” design before starting, or hire someone for whom that is their specialty.

Key #5: “Look with Your Customer’s Eyes”
You need to understand how a display is “read” – much like a webpage – starting at the upper left and then across to the right and downwards in a Z-like fashion. Approaching prospects look for clues about whether to stop. Give them a “headline” in the top third of your display area, with your name, major brand, or tagline.

They will then look for product or service category and major benefits. Finally, they may want to see “trust indicators” such as industry credentials, a client list, or testimonials.

Keep all text and important pictures above the sight line, use photos recognizable at a distance, and size your lettering about an inch for every three feet it must be read.

Don’t use too many words, and better to use a few perfect photographs than too many.

No suprise, but the best way to balance all these requirements is to use an artist experienced with large format design, such as we have on staff.  (And we’re happy to work with your designer if they understand these key points as well)