You may think that technology is king and there’s no need for an in-person element to your marketing plan. You’d be wrong. While there’s no substitute for up-to-date tech, there’s also no substitute for the one-on-one contact that trade shows offer. To make the best possible impression in person, you need effective tabletop exhibits.

A tabletop display is a compact, portable method of delivering an impactful message to your target audience. Like any advertising or marketing vehicle, it only works if it’s done right. Creating great tabletop displays for trade shows takes smart planning, creativity and attention to detail.

Design is a critical component of a good display. Clear, eye-catching and memorable images, headlines and text will make your display the one that gets attention amidst the rows of participants clamoring for attention. A cluttered or boring design can easily be overlooked, especially in a large hall.

Your table top displays should be simple, bold and easy to understand. Simple doesn’t mean dull or boring, though. It means clear, uncluttered and easy to read. This design principle applies for both text and images.

Images are often the more effective tool for telling your story on your table top booth displays. Consider the saying that “less is more” when designing your display. Your display is like a billboard in the exhibit hall. It should capture the participant’s attention and draw him into your booth. Using large images or graphics in smaller numbers is typically more impactful than using many smaller images.

Text and headlines should also be bold and simple. Choose streamlined, modern fonts that can be read across the room. Don’t fall for the fancy stuff; it won’t have the punch you want across the room. Make sure the content and imagery complement each other as well as your product or service. Pictures of kitties might get lots of looks but will that do you any good if you’re promoting financial services? Consider customizing the image or content of the display to the trade show to maximize the impact at each show.

Your content is valuable. Treat it with respect. Make sure that every word has been proofread multiple times by multiple people before a single item is sent to print. Don’t let a single misspelling, grammatical error or typo get past your proofreading process. Make proofreading part of your plan or your mistakes will be what’s on display instead of your product.

Don’t forget to plan your tabletop exhibits from top to bottom. It’s not just about the boards and backdrops. Your potential clients will notice all the details like table covers and floor treatments, too. A great display sitting on a bare table loses its impact. Be sure that your elements all coordinate to support your message.

Once you’ve planned the look and content, you need to put some thought into set-up and operation. Simplicity is once again an important issue. You need to be able to put your display together quickly and without fuss and break it down just as easily.

Trade show booths are often operated by a single representative or perhaps a small group. The space is usually limited and the point is to draw in participants, not fill the booth with your own staff. Since space is at a premium, plan your set-up for a single set of hands. When using table top display boards or panel trade show displays, size them to be carried and lifted by an average person and not a body builder.

Your trade show tabletop display is your introduction to your potential clients and customers. Take the time to plan an effective and attractive display so that your first impression is the best it can be.