Trade Show Booth Design Tips: Attract Industrial & Scientific Audiences


Given the mounting costs of travel, exhibition fees, shipping your equipment and booth costs (don’t forget the additional luxury carpet!), not to mention expenses and the staffing cost of having your team there the whole week, it is imperative that you justify such an investment and have a clear view of what success looks like – There’s good news though.

The trade show is alive and well.

What does a successful booth design incorporate?

Whether you’ve taken 100 or 1000 square feet, there are a few fundamentals here.


Every effective booth should have colorful, well-positioned graphics, clear messaging. This is especially important for smaller booths. Don’t attempt to promote every single one of your thousand products, that’s what your website and product catalogues are for. Either focus on 1 – 2 core products/services or apply a wider brand awareness approach.

If you’re offering a service at the event e.g. a workshop or consultancy sessions, say that you’re offering that on your stand graphics. Don’t leave it to the imagination of visitors to guess.


Consider adding an interactive feature to the booth – this doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive and could be as simple as a web explainer, video or social media feed looping on a screen.

Think about finishing touches which enhance the brand visuals, at little additional cost e.g. branded rugs, welcome counters or furnishings.


Every event is different – some are more relaxed on height restrictions and there is negligible additional cost in increasing part of the booth frame height up to 13 foot to enable messaging that overshadows your neighbors and competitors at the show.

Put furniture in corners or “inside” the footprint of the booth i.e. don’t create physical barriers by lining all the edges of your booth with furniture, products and other equipment.

Is the booth location important?

Booth location is vital and, given the choice of more space in a poor location or less space in a great location, I would recommend the latter every time. Show traffic inevitably flows in certain directions governed by:

  • Entry points into the hall
  • The location of seminar/presentation areas
  • The location of cafes/networking lounges.

An additional variable at some events can be the demarcation of dedicated “new exhibitor” areas or zones dedicated to certain products and technologies. Visit the show in the years leading up to your participation or do your research in terms of the publicly available floor-plan.

What novel design solutions have you used to stand out from the crowd?

While with Knauf Insulation we implemented a number of unique approaches including an interactive scaled insulation factory model and also an on-stand bowling alley geared around a “10 green bottles” message which linked back to eco-friendly glass mineral wool insulation solutions.

We built an incredibly successful 20 square meter stand for a client at major Science exhibition Analytica in Munich, Germany which featured a bar as its centerpiece along with a lounge area and interactive displays. The bar (and free beer!) provided the hook to turn potential interest into active sales conversations and our client, Goodfellow, saw an 800% increase in leads generated at the show.

Goodfellow Stand

We revolutionized the compressed air sector while at Ingersoll Rand by adopting a more static idea seen in the USA and instead built a mobile compressed air system within a 20-foot shipping container, then moving that to every corner of Europe and the Middle East to use as an outdoor exhibit for live demonstrations at trade shows.

We put a giant interactive tablet at the heart of things at an Oil and Gas show in Rotterdam, Holland. This featured links to digital content including web explainers, a new website and a live updating Twitter-wall which gave stand visitors the chance to catch up with other visitors’ opinions of the show as a whole.

We took a completely blue sky approach to the stand build at a designer-focused exhibition in London, driving an eco-friendly product launch with a stand that was 100% on message and stopped visitors in their tracks with its eye-catching “garden of materials” theme.


What would you say to SME’s on a budget exhibiting at a tradeshow?

Don’t assume that trade shows mean huge expense with little return. As mentioned above there are plenty of smart design tactics that can be incorporated on to even the smallest of booths at little additional cost. But by the same token don’t do more damage to your brand than good by taking creased/ripped pop up graphics or damaged old roller banners and assume that will be good enough to stand out. At many shows this is what 80% of the booths look like anyway so how can you expect yours to stand out from the others?

Whatever you’ve spent on the space itself, whether using an expert agency or doing it yourself from thereon in, you should budget on spending at least the same again on dressing that space. You should then also allocate a third portion of the budget to cover staff travel and accommodation. If you can’t afford to spend at least the same on dressing the space as the space costs itself you should seriously consider whether to exhibit or wait until the following edition of the show.

How has the tradeshow changed and what role does the booth play today?

People have been talking about the death of the B2B trade show for years. Turns out its demise has actually been seriously overstated though and it remains as vital a pillar of the modern marketing mix as ever, only its role has changed slightly. Research carried out by AZoNetwork last year demonstrates that Science and Industrial trade shows provide the second biggest source of “quality” sales leads behind content marketing. Take the following careful steps and trade shows can continue to play a key role in your marketing strategy:

  • Choose the right shows, do your research and check that the correct audience is attending and that the show itself is in growth.
  • Don’t see the trade show as a standalone marketing tactic. Think “multi-channel” rather than single channel and use it as a face to face platform to enhance and interact with your other content and digital marketing efforts.
  • Make sure that you follow the fundamental design principles outlined above – get an expert agency involved if necessary which will reduce the pressure in terms of ensuring the quality of the finished build.
  • Location. Location. Location!
  • Budget accordingly and either do it properly or don’t do it at all.