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Trade Show Exhibit Buyers' Guide from Impact Displays


Once you've set your objectives and your trade show calendar for the year, the next step is to choose a trade show display. The display decision should be based on your specific show objectives, your budget, and your corporate branding goals and guidelines. If you're the marketing director for a big company and want to position yourself as a leader in your industry, you'll need a very large space and a custom or high end modular exhibit. If you're a startup with a limited budget, you should consider an inexpensive popup booth or a rental exhibit. Most companies fall somewhere in-between these two.

Pop up display are the most popular booth option for 10X10 spaces and for sales events and conferences. There are a broad range of pop-ups available in the market today and most are available with podium wraps to convert the carrying case into a podium. Some of the key factors to look at in selecting a pop-up are durability, ease of setup, availability, fabric colors, and warranty. Be sure to deal with a customer service oriented dealer who's been in business for a long time since there's no margin for error in getting a booth to your trade show.

Pop-ups can be complemented with shelving, peninsula counters, backlit endcaps, literature displays, and other accessories which can convert an ordinary pop-up into a standpoint display!

Panel Displays are an alternative to pop-ups, and, depending on their quality and countertop options, can provide a higher end look than a pop-up. Panel displays generally hold more weight than pop-ups so they can work well if you have heavier products to display or a number of computer monitors.

Modular exhibits are higher end exhibits that provide a custom look but can still be setup in a few hours, shipped in standard rotomolded plastic cases, and thus have a lower total cost of ownership than custom booths. Modular exhibits generally use higher end materials including tensile fabric structures, extruded aluminum frames, high end composites and laminates, and innovative bold designs. Modular exhibits will hold more weight and can also be used to hold large plasma screens and LDC panels.

Truss systems. Truss systems provide a bold, innovative, and unique look to a display. They are also excellent functional components that can be used to mount lighting, projectors, and Plasma or LCD panels. The high weight bearing capacity of truss systems also makes them great for displaying heavier weight products like books, bowling balls, metals parts, etc. They also have a distinctive theatrical look that works well with certain target markets. Truss systems are often used in conjunction with other display structures like pop-ups and panel displays.

Custom Exhibits. Custom exhibits provide the ultimate in branding and high impact. They are completely custom built so they can be designed to meet very specific show objectives and may include elements like rotating towers, theater spaces, conference areas, and numerous product/service display stations. Given the higher cost of design, construction, shipping, and install and dismantle (I&D), these exhibits are best suited for companies willing to spend $40,000 or more for their display. The payoff in a custom exhibit can be huge since it sets you apart from the competition and creates a locked in memory of industry leadership.


Designing great graphics for your booth is critical to setting yourselves apart from the competition. Some important tips to keep in mind are as follows:

  • The 15 foot rule. Make sure all logos and text can be clearly read from a distance of 15 feet (i.e. no squinting required even for us 40 and 50 year olds: )
  • Limit bullet points to 10 words or less
  • Limit text oriented charts to a headline and 4 bullet points
  • Include plenty of visual images to extract emotion and make your exhibit memorable
  • Don't scrimp on your company logo. Make sure it’s very very easy to spot even from a long distance away. You want to make sure that your target audience can find you in a glance. Hanging displays are key to improving your visibility.
  • Look at using mural graphic panels and fabric backwalls to greatly increase the perceived value and emotional impact of your display.
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