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Ask These Questions Before Choosing A Custom Trade Show Exhibit Design

Is your company considering a custom design for a large trade show exhibit? It’s an important decision that should be approached as a process rather than a one-time event. You have to think long-term to successfully design an exhibit that will grow with your brand.

A custom designed exhibit can provide flexibility, increase booth traffic and offer a memorable visit. Exhibits are becoming more sophisticated as trade show attendees look for more unique experiences that offer a deeper sense of who you are as company and what you bring to the business relationship. There’s a lot to consider when planning a custom booth design, and there are some common mistakes that can cost you even more. Spending extra time in the planning phase can help you design a booth that will not only meet your immediate trade show needs, but continue to deliver over the life of the exhibit.

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What Do We Need This Exhibit To Do?

You probably already have ideas for what you’d like to see in your new exhibit. It’s important to discuss what you need in terms of features, functionality and content, not just colors and trends. If you want to look professional on the show floor – hire a professional exhibit design company. This is not the time to wing it. Designing a trade show booth is very different from designing other kinds of marketing collateral. Do research and take the time to find the right exhibit company with the experience and talent to bring your ideas to life. An exhibit design company will offer a great deal of help in planning a strategy so your exhibit can grow with you and maximize your investment.

Typically, companies that purchase exhibit pieces use them for four to five years. What does your company’s five-year trade show marketing plan look like? How much flexibility do you need to change out messaging or layouts for each show?  Are you displaying merchandise or sample products at shows? Will you expand into doing so over the next five years?  Do you need space for demonstrating products, workstations or interactive areas?  Do you need to mount monitors for multimedia presentations? What about conference rooms, desks, or large storage? What about booth amenities for visitors like promotional items, beverages or other conveniences?  Start with a list of what you need from an exhibit today and anticipate what changes you may need to make over the next few years. Too many exhibitors throw all of their time and effort into the initial booth design without revisiting the need for updates and changes. Make your exhibit part of every post-show discussion and keep fine-tuning with an eye on how to make it new for the next show. Keep the energy and the momentum going.

How Much Will This Really Cost?

After you’ve thought through your custom booth design, you’ll be ready to start evaluating exhibit options that will meet those needs. This is one area where it’s easy to make an expensive mistake if you don’t compare with great care. Your initial investment is a significant component in the total cost of any given exhibit, but additional costs can dramatically change the bottom line since their total typically outweighs the initial investment. How do you evaluate the true cost of ownership? You’ll need to account for costs like freight, drayage, in-and-out preparation, storage, Installation & Dismantling (I&D), updating custom graphics and other miscellaneous exhibit details. The weight and packed size of the exhibit assets you choose will affect these costs. Be sure you calculate costs for each exhibit option you’re considering, and total five years of those costs with the initial investment for each option.

 Is Ownership Our Most Cost-Effective Option?

Once you have credible numbers for the cost of ownership for the exhibit you need, you can make an informed decision as to whether ownership is the best value for your company and your specific needs. One alternative is customized rental from a full-service exhibit company. If you work with a premium supplier like Skyline, you’ll be able to choose from their full range of exhibit systems. You get the flexibility to create exactly what you need, give it a uniform, customized look, vary the size or configuration of your set-up as needed, and often the only items you purchase are the graphics, which you can re-use every time you rent the exhibit piece it fits. You don’t have to purchase your trade show exhibit to get custom booth design.

What’s Working In Exhibiting: Benchmarks and Best Practices

Skyline Exhibits and Access Intelligence Research & Consulting have worked together to develop this exclusive report on what is working best in event and exhibit marketing. What’s Working in Exhibiting digs into core themes endemic to event and exhibit marketing to find the latest strategies and most effective approaches. This report provides an inside look at the current practices of successful exhibitors.

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Erin Adrian
About the Author

Erin Adrian is the Sales/Marketing Coordinator & Database Administrator for Skyline Displays Midwest in Minnesota which has the distinction of consistently being Skyline's #1 Dealer in the world. She has been in sales & marketing for over 23 years with publishing houses and most recently Skyline. For more information on Minnesota trade show displays, Twin Cities trade show booths, and trade show exhibits, please visit Skyline Displays Midwest.

One response to “Ask These Questions Before Choosing A Custom Trade Show Exhibit Design

  1. Great article Erin. I think figuring out what you want the trade show booth to accomplish, is something very few people do before setting out to design one. Taking some time to figure that out before you begin does make the rest of it so much easier!

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