Trade shows are full of people, potential customers, but they will never become actual customers if you don’t get their attention first. That is why the design of trade show booths is so important. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, you only have a few seconds to get people’s attention, so you can’t afford to have a so-so display that doesn’t stand out. It may be tempting to throw together a cheap trade show display, but that won’t be likely to convert lookers to clients. Read on to learn more about the aspects that should influence your booth design.

What initial impression do I want to leave on the potential customer?

When people see your booth, what do you want them to think or feel? Would you like them to be excited, put at ease, entertained, concerned, scared? For example, a person selling healing crystals and organic hemp clothing would probably want their booth to feel calming and relaxing. A person providing extermination services might want to evoke the feeling of concern or fear. Obviously, these two business owners would approach the designing of their trade show booths differently. The former would probably focus on scenes from nature (trees, grass, clouds, water), natural textures (cotton, linen, burlap, etc.), peaceful images (woman meditating), contemporary fonts and earth tones. The latter would focus on alarming images (close-ups of insects, pictures of infested homes), bold fonts and deep, bright colors. Once you know the way you want to make passersby feel, you will be able to better formulate how the booth should look.

What is my brand, and how can I communicate it effectively?

Branding is important in all businesses, but at a tradeshow—where all the vendors are in the same industry—branding is even more crucial. How will your booth stand out from all the others who are selling similar products or services? Branding is not just about a logo and a name. It’s about the ideas people come to associate with your business. Is your company strong and reliable (e.g., Timberland boots)? Do you provide state-of-the-art technology at high-end prices (e.g., Apple Inc.)? Is your company so well-known that its name has become a general term (e.g., Kleenex tissue)? Or are you still trying to brand yourself? Whatever your brand, it has to be communicated in your tradeshow booth. That can be done with strategically placed logos, choosing the right fonts (not too plain or playful), and high resolution graphics. Your trade show booth display should present one cohesive message. It shouldn’t look pieced together or disorganized. If so, people will assume the business is disorganized, too.

What is my budget and how can I use it to maximize my ROI?

The smaller a budget is, the more it must be monitored. After all, if you end up going over budget, some of the profits may have to go toward the overage. When it comes to show booth displays, it’s all about the visual. You can’t afford to have low resolution images and fuzzy fonts. You’d be more successful with a smaller, high quality booth than a bigger, low quality booth. That means renting a smaller vending space and decorating it well, rather than spending most of your money on the space and then skimping on the display. Banners, pamphlets, photos, business cards, and videos should all be well made with high resolution. You have to ensure everything about your trade show display suggests professionalism and respectability.

How can I engage potential customers?

Engagement is the key to conversion. Companies don’t spend time and money to put up trade show booths only to display information. The goal is to attract interested people and develop an attachment with them. That means you have to do more than offer pamphlets and free peppermints. Make your display interactive. Offer something for visitors to do, touch, play, or win. Create a catchy social media hashtag and ask people to use it to enter a contest. Be sure the hashtag is clearly visible on your booth. Ensure they’ll remember your booth after they’ve gone home for the night.

With these four questions in mind, you should be able to create a winning trade show display.