You probably already know tradeshows are a great way to get your business in front of thousands of people in a very short amount of time. But, in my experience, putting together a tradeshow booth can be one of the most difficult things you do, especially in the case of companies new to the world of tradeshows.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started as you plan, design, and create an effective booth that can be used for many years to promote your company.

Start with a plan

If you have ever looked through a catalog or visited the showroom of a tradeshow display company, you know that there are many different tradeshow booth options to choose from. If you go into the process without creating a plan first, you will likely spend a lot of money on something that is not the most effective piece of marketing material for your business.

That's why you need to start with a plan. Begin by asking yourself a few questions:

1. What is the purpose of the booth?

Are you trying to meet new leads, pass out information about products or services, demo a product, or something else?

2. Based on the purpose of the booth, what functional needs do you have?

  • Do you need to be able to sit down and talk to prospective clients for an extended period of time?
  • Do you need an area where you can show a product?
  • Do you need a stage to present information to a large group?
  • Do you need to display brochures or product information?

3. What technical specifications do you need?

  • Does your product require power/electricity?
  • Do you need a way to display a video or other, similar materials?
  • Do you need additional security to protect special equipment from being stolen or damaged?

4. Are there any other considerations you need to plan for?

  • Do you need a booth that can easily be assembled and disassembled by one person?
  • Does it need to meet specific weight considerations for shipping?
  • Do you need to be able to redesign it for different tradeshows or uses?

Consider the aesthetics

If you are planning to just set up a few brochures on a table, chances are most people will pass right by your booth. Many companies design their booths to be more of an experience, creating a space that is aesthetically pleasing, noticeable, and inviting. I have seen hundreds of different booth configurations, with many companies today trending toward custom booth designs.

Consider the traffic flow of your booth, and design it in a way that invites people in to talk to you but doesn't create traffic jams or make it uncomfortable for people to stand or sit inside the booth. If you have displays or other product demos, be sure there is adequate room for people to sit or stand to watch the demos.

In addition, look at all the lighting needs for your displays or demos. It's safe to assume that most tradeshows will be in a warehouse-like building, with fluorescent-style lighting.

Create the design

Now that you know exactly what you need, you can choose the display that works best for you.

Whether you need a tabletop model, a floor model, or a modular design, I recommend you keep the graphics simple and easy to read: Include branding that helps identify your company, such as a logo, company name, and tagline.

You can also include some basic information about your products or services, but only if it can be easily displayed without looking cluttered. It's best to stick with a large headline and very little additional text. Make sure photos are colorful, inviting, and appropriate for the message you need to convey.

Think of your booth as a highway billboard, where you only have about 5-7 seconds to grab someone's attention before they speed by to the next booth.

Work closely with the design company

If possible, choose a booth design company that is in your local area. Online-based display-booth companies may offer slightly better prices, but with a local company you can visit a showroom to see the displays in person to decide which on one is right for you, to customize your display, and to work with the company more easily to create your booth.

After all, most booth displays are a significant investment, ranging from $1,000 to $20,000—or more, depending on the size, style, and customizations you need.

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Putting together a winning tradeshow booth can help you bring in new customers, display your product and its benefits to a large audience, and develop sales leads that generate business for your company.

If you are going to spend the time and money to do a tradeshow, it's worth your effort to develop a high-quality booth display.

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Mark Saghy is a marketing executive with exhibitDEAL, a wholesale tradeshow display company offering digital signage, pop-up, and outdoor displays and accessories.

LinkedIn: Mark Saghy