By Monica Pitts

All booths start out the same: 3 sides, a curtain at the back, a table, a few chairs, all on the same carpet as the other booths. Nothing special. Consider the booth your canvas and make it your own. And I don’t mean just signage, though that’s certainly important. I mean that everything from the arrangement of your booth to the people in it all work to make it a success.

1. Differentiate Your Space
You need a way to stand out. Bring in a rug to mark the edges of your territory with a change in flooring. Think back to the heights and styles of the displays you normally see at the shows you attend. Now do something else! Something bigger, brighter or a different shape. Deviations in space, light, color, or movement draw the eye to a spot. Put displays on a table to create height, bring in a lamp or two, roll a surprising video – mix it up.

2. Provide Recognition at a Glance
People should be able to glance at your booth and know it’s yours immediately. Hang your company name or logo in a high, unobstructed spot. If your logo is in the middle or bottom of your signage, fire your designer. They should know better. Fortunately most events hang a large, easy-to-read company name at the top of your booth space – leave that up there for sure.

3. Arrange an Open Space
Don’t – I repeat; DO NOT – put your table across the front of your booth. It’s like putting a fence around your yard. Fences keep people out. You want people to come IN. Put your table along the side or at the back of your booth. If you’re feeling adventurous, get rid of it all together!

4. Create a Reason for People to Come In
Now that you knocked that fence down, you need to create a reason for people to enter. You can host a game or giveaway. You can arrange your sought after giveaway items at the back of the booth, displaying a few at a time so people have to walk in or ask for a representative. Create an outlandish display. For example, our “if you think your website stinks so does everyone else” banner always gets a chuckle and comment from passers by. Even just placing a bowl of candy a few feet in the booth will draw in visitors for conversation.

5. Keep it Clean
And by “clean”, I don’t just mean pick it up. Provide an easy to find trash can for stoppers-by. Don’t leave piles of brochures or business cards laying around. Gather cards for giveaways in a tidy bowl or vase. Stow away laptop bags and other items under the table for safekeeping.

6. Don’t Just Set Out Your Materials – Display Them.
Everything should have it’s delegated space. Put pens in a jar, set business cards in a holder and display booklets and brochures in a stand. A few things may lay on the table but most items should be propped up for easy viewing and retrieval for interested patrons.

7. Make it Comfortable for Conversation
Once people come in, you want to encourage them to stay. Start by standing. And I don’t mean STAND UP. I mean be standing from the get-go and don’t sit down. If you must sit, do it in a tall chair so you’re at eye level with your visitors. You don’t roll your office chair through the house to answer the door, do you? If you have a large booth, bring in comfortable chairs with a coffee table to gather around. Make it a living room for the day. Or bring in a tall cocktail table that people can gather around standing, set their drinks down and start a conversation.

8. Prep for Common Questions Beforehand
As beautiful as your booth may be, your representatives make the sale. Prep them for commonly asked questions and conversation starters. Make some good old fashioned note cards with the question on side and the answers on the other. And make sure to practice! Record yourself and listen to your answers. Here’s a few common questions to get you started. Make it a goal to answer each of them in 30 seconds or less.

  • What do you do?
  • Where are you located/where do you do business?
  • Who are your biggest clients?
  • What is your role at your company?
  • How many people work foryour company?
  • Have you ever been to this show before?

While all booths may start the same boring old way, a successful booth goes outside the box, draws people in and creates a comfortable environment for what could be an awesome business opportunity!

Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.