setting up for a trade show


FEBRUARY 27, 2020| SpeedPro Chicago Loop

Trade shows can be immensely helpful in growing your company. At these events, your team has the chance to meet new prospects and find potential business partners. Additionally, you can survey the competition and see what you’re doing well and where your company could improve.

If you’re looking to attend a trade show, you’ll want to get ready for it far in advance. As you learn more about setting up for a trade show, there are some best practices you should follow to make the best impression on attendees.


As you get ready for a trade show, you can take steps to put yourself in the best position to make a positive impression. Below you’ll find some of the most impactful ways you can prepare yourself for success:


Planning your trade show exhibit far ahead of a trade show’s date is crucial to your company’s success at the event. As your staff members will need to book their flights, find lodging and factor the trade show into their workload, you want to give them plenty of time to get all of the logistics figured out.

For example, locking down a block of rooms at a hotel near the trade show is going to require you to make the reservations far in advance, as there will be plenty of other companies who are all trying to book rooms as well. High-quality lodging that’s close to the event space is key to keeping your staff’s morale high and making it easier for employees to get to your booth on time.

Along with planning logistics, you’ll also need to decide what message, product or service to highlight at the trade show. Once you choose your core message, you need time to develop compelling trade show graphics for the event that will highlight it. Additionally, the most successful trade show exhibits begin advertising their presence at the event four to six weeks before its start date, meaning you’ll need to give yourself time to put together a marketing strategy.


Part of having an effective trade show display is having staff members who are on the same page. All of your team members, from your salespeople to your executives, should be communicating with one another to understand the company’s goals at the trade show. Holding meetings beforehand and putting expectations in writing for the group will allow everyone to have the most relevant information and be on the same page.

Your team at a trade show

One of the most important ways that you prepare staff is to have a logistics document available to anyone attending the trade show. In this logistics document, you’ll include the phone numbers of team members, along with other contact info, relevant responsibilities and expectations for particular staff members. These documents should be distributed both physically and digitally among your staff. In addition to the logistics document, everyone should have booth hours and any scheduled meetings at the trade show in their calendars.

To ensure that your team is up to date on all of the relevant details about the trade show, it’s also a good idea to invite team members to a prep meeting or call the week before the trade show. At this meeting, you can go through information about the venue, dress code, booth hours, lodging, contact details, scheduled meetings at the show, relevant networking events and other aspects of the event.


Though designing an attractive display is probably the best way to get people to your booth, you can also lay the groundwork for your event by posting social media content about the trade show. Before, during and after the event, you should be posting about, sharing pictures of and increasing awareness of your booth.

With a strong social media presence, you can promote your booth by inviting attendees to come to watch a demo, enter into a contest and grab a giveaway. In your posts, it’s important to highlight the booth number and other relevant location details, along with including the event hashtag. If people are familiar with your booth’s appearance and your company’s presence at the show, they will be more likely to seek your company out and engage with sales staff.


As you prepare for the trade show, you can maximize the value you get out of it by scheduling to meet with prospects, customers or other vendors before the event even begins. To accomplish this, your sales and marketing teams can reach out to people they believe will provide value to your business. Once they get in contact with them, they can set times for these parties to come to visit your booth.

After you begin to get commitments from prospects about coming to your booth, you’ll want your sales team to have a shared calendar that they can reference. You probably don’t want to overbook meetings with important executives, so it’s a good idea to have a calendar that all staff can view and that they can use to schedule high-powered attendees.

If you hope to make your meeting space more private at your booth, you can construct private, fabric rooms with architectural structures designed for trade shows. These rooms can vary in size, with some companies setting up small conference rooms for private presentations. In a private room within your booth, you’ll be able to get prospects away from the distractions of other displays and pitch them without any distractions.


One major way you can increase booth attendance and improve brand recognition is to have giveaways at your booth. When people come by, sample products, branded freebies and literature handouts can be a great way to get your name out there and attract attendees to your exhibit. You can be even more creative with your giveaways by setting up games for attendees to play or having other interactive devices for them to engage with.

Great giveaways at trade shows are key

Food and drinks are another excellent way to get people to come to your booth. The smell of fresh coffee at the beginning of a trade show and the appeal of a frozen margarita at the end of a long day on the trade show floor is bound to draw in a few extra attendees. Whatever giveaway you choose, they’ll help to break the ice and give your staff an “in” to developing a relationship with a prospect.

If you have packets, catalogs, handouts, brochures or booklets that you’d like to hand out at the event, literature racks are perfect giveaway devices. These freestanding racks range in size and in the number of pockets they feature, allowing you to find one that works perfectly for the trade show.

  1. Craft an Eye-Catching Booth

Before you show up at a trade show, you’ll want to have your booth fully designed and ready to be transported. To ensure your design is the best it can be, set your exhibit up beforehand to make sure everything is aesthetically pleasing. If you order the components of the booth long before the trade show, you’ll have time to make adjustments that improve the appearance of the display.

The first impression your booth makes on attendees is going to determine whether they skip over your exhibit or take the time to engage with your sales team. The booth’s visual appeal says a lot about the quality of your company to passersby. As such, you’ll want to put the time in beforehand to figure out the design of your booth and develop attractive trade show graphics that will get attendees’ attention.

A major part of any effectively designed trade show booth is attractive graphics that contain your logo or other recognizable company imagery. People should be able to find your display quickly, and a logo helps you accomplish that. You can place logos and other branded imagery on your walls, towers, table covers, handouts and other relevant parts of your booth to raise brand awareness and help people spot you through the crowd.


While you prepare for the trade show, you should set up your booth far in advance to make sure that your layout is comfortable to walk through and navigate. Some companies believe that they should try to fit as many graphics and other items into a space as possible, but this neglects a major aspect of a booth’s success — its flow.

Instead of having a cluttered space, aim to have plenty of open space. When your exhibit doesn’t have walls, tables and other displays overlapping each other, it will appear more inviting to those walking by. Along with opening up the space, try to design your layout in a way that encourages attendees to browse and make conversation with your staff.


When you’re preparing to attend a trade show, you’ll want your structure to be easy to set up. At the event, you’ll want staff interacting with attendees and other businesses as much as possible. A lengthy setup process due to bulky, heavy equipment could mean lost prospects and revenue. To get the most value out of your time, you’ll want to consider using the following portable trade show display elements:

  • Table covers: A table cover complements the look of almost any trade show booth exhibit. These covers are made out of fabric and contain attractive graphics that match the rest of the display. You can purchase draped table runners and table skirts that will completely cover the table that you’re using. On top of these table covers, you can place touch screen mounts, signage systems, literature racks and mini pop-ups.
  • Wall graphics: On a trade show floor, you’re going to be surrounded by competing companies who are trying to get the attention of attendees. Wall graphics can add character to your walls and partitions, helping your booth stand out. Some of these graphics include fabric poster displays, wall-mounted banners and portable panel screens.
  • Booth backdrops: The large-format sheets and canopies that make up a booth backdrop are perfect for forming an attractive background to your exhibit. They come in rectangle and square shapes and are made out of fabric. They range from 8 to 30 feet in width. Among other optional extras, booth backdrops support half walls, hanging banners and paneled backwall accents.
  • Pop up displays: Easy to set up and visually engaging, portable pop up trade show displays are the best way to add flair to your booth. They come in the form of folding panel displays and collapsible displays. No matter which type of pop up display you choose, they will be lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Digital displays: To really capture people’s attention, you can add digital components to your trade show booth. Digital signage, for instance, can make your exhibit stand out, with moving messages, videos and other multimedia content broadcasted to the trade show attendees. In addition to large digital signs, other aspects of a digital display include charging towers, integrated monitor mounts, monitor stands and iPad kiosks.
  • Display lighting: If you really want to separate yourself from the competition, display lighting is crucial. Backlit lighting will make your signs shine bright, illuminating your brand logos, special services or newest product. Besides backlighting, you can accent your graphics and signs with lighting that rests beside or in front of them. Display lighting is so valuable because it makes your messages pop while also giving your booth a more professional ambiance.
  • Flags and banners: Vital to any trade show booth are flags and banners. With these eye-catching fabric decorations, you’ll be able to add more on-brand imagery to your trade show booth. They come in a variety of designs, with retractable banners being a favorite among those who value quick setup and affordability. Often, banners and flags are freestanding, making them highly versatile and easy to fit into almost display. If you need inexpensive, highly-attractive displays, banners and flags are the way to go.


If you’re preparing to attend a trade show, you need to work with a company that can provide you with the equipment, structures and graphics needed for trade show booths that attract attendees. 


SpeedPro Chicago Loop can help you create corporate signage that helps to increase awareness of your brand among your target audience. We offer all of the signage types mentioned above and many, many more. Trade show branding is all about standing out, and SpeedPro Chicago Loop can help you do just that.   Located just 3 blocks from McCormick Place and just moments from downtown, we have been awarded as ‘3-Best Sign Shop’ in Chicago in 2018, 2019 and 2020 as well as a proud Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business—call us today and experience the difference.




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