Why and How Display Quality Pays Off

If you’re wondering if trade show displays pay off, the answer is yes! Trade show displays matter.

When people walk by your booth, they’re 80 percent more likely to read your display if it has relevant and colorful visuals. Essentially, your trade show display is your conversation starter. And when you spark someone’s interest in your product, you’re one step closer to a trade show’s biggest payoff — a new client.

trade show design

Trade show exhibits aren’t all made equally, though. High-quality trade show displays offer the biggest return on investment for your business, for both the initial purchase and their performance at trade shows.

So — why do displays matter, and why do high-quality displays deliver results at trade shows? Let’s find out!

Trade Show Displays Represent Your Company

Displays are like your trade show employees — they represent your company. While affordable or within your project budget, poor-quality displays are more prone to printing errors or cheap hardware.

If you don’t want to sacrifice quality for price, take advantage of price-matching offers like our own. Also, don’t purchase an expensive trade show display when you can order one with the same quality, but for a more affordable, cost-effective price.

Top-quality displays feature even surfaces, high-resolution images and aligned graphics. When people see these types of signs, they associate its quality to your company and product. Before you’ve even spoken with attendees, they already see your business as reliable, trustworthy and experienced.

Trade Show Displays Attract People to Your Booth

Around 86 percent of trade show visitors have purchasing and decision-making authority, and 46 percent of them decide to make a purchase, or purchases, at the show.

attendee purchasing decisions

That’s why you’ll want to create a trade show display — whether it’s a banner or a premium exhibit — to capture your company’s brand and people’s attention. People are naturally attracted to crowds or lines. It signifies importance or buzz for products.

So, not only can your eye-catching display or exhibit setup attract people to your booth, but those guests can encourage more trade show attendees to stop by. It could also garner media attention from outlets covering the trade show, which could boost your revenue from the event.

Focus on a simple, but bold style for your display. Think of it as a billboard. You want to catch people’s attention and encourage their curiosity with your design, but not overwhelm them with an extensive product list or mission statement, for example.

How to Design an Effective Trade Show Display: Six Components

Now, with all of that in mind, you’ll want to consider the following six components when designing your trade show display.

Viewing Distance

Distance is an important consideration in trade show display layouts. Viewing distances for trade show venues are broken into three levels:

  • Primary level: If something is visible from 50 to 100 feet away, it’s part of the primary level. Whatever is in your primary level — whether it’s your headline or company logo — its goal is to encourage people to come closer to check out your booth.

Advertisements for promotional giveaways are great to have at the primary level, and it’s a cost-effective use of a display if you’re consistently hosting giveaways. Giveaways generate attendee interest and almost guarantee they’ll stop by your booth.

show display effectiveness

How well your primary level is designed influences your trade show display’s effectiveness, as it’s the first point of contact for distant attendees.

  • Secondary level: Secondary level items are visible 10 to 50 feet away. Some features, like your image, may be more noticeable at this distance and, again, work to bring people into your booth.

Media displays also work well at this level, as attendees can see the video but may not be able to hear the sound describing or detailing the product.

  • Tertiary level: At one to 10 feet away, everything on your display is visible to people. Ensure your design isn’t crowded with information at this view, as it may overwhelm booth visitors. It’s also a great time to approach people and talk about your product.

A great way to create a display that delivers results is to test these viewing distances. See what’s visible at 50 or 75 feet on other company’s exhibits at trade shows. Or, do the same exercise with your previous displays for guidance on designing your next one.

Color Palette

Color is a great way for your trade show exhibit to catch someone’s attention. Company colors may determine what hues you can make use of, but use contrasting colors if possible.

Complementary color pairings — such as green and red or yellow and purple — work best because they have a higher contrast. You’ll find complementary contrasting colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.

contrasting colors

Lower-contrast colors, such as orange and red, aren’t as easy for reading information in a graphic design. These color combinations are located closer together on the color wheel.

You can reference color guides to build your color palette or ask for help from one of our experienced design assistants.


Select an image that’s simple and effective. Don’t complicate your design with a complex visual or more than one image. Both design choices will distract viewers from your product, and most likely cause them to move onto the next booth.

Ensure your image is high-resolution and capable of being printed at display sizes, as it’ll appear pixelated and poorly planned otherwise.


Write a headline that’s short and easy for people to recall. A shorter headline allows you to use a larger font for your display, which will help you stand out from your trade show competitors. Use an easy-to-read font from the sans serif font family, and avoid ornamental or script fonts.

Your business may already use a specific font set, so use those to maintain your company’s brand and voice.


Keep display descriptions short, clear and concise. Make your message brief and use bullet points or lists to separate key product points. Remember to use a legible font, as well.

Include information to build audience interest, but don’t reveal everything. You can expand on the product’s information when talking one-on-one with a potential client.

Company Name and Logo

Make your company name prominent — especially if certain trade show attendees will recognize it. You’ll want it to be at the primary viewing distance level. It’s recommended to place your business name or logo in the header of your display, as most viewers look there for company names.

trade show branding

Company Website and Social Media

Social media icons, as well as your company URL, are design staples for trade show displays. Attendees can search for your company online for more information about your products. Informing users about your online presence is one of the key performance indicators (KPI) for measuring your display and trade show’s return on investment (ROI).

The type of display you choose also influences attendee behavior. A media display, for example, affects trade show visitors differently than a pop-up display.

Display Types: Eight Options to Choose From

Eight display options, listed below, are available for attracting trade show attendees:

  • Pop-Up Displays: Since they’re both customizable and interchangeable, pop-up displays are popular and common at trade shows. While not as eye-catching as other options, pop up displays can stand out with creative graphic designs. A curved display option is available to attract more attention.

pop up display

  • Tension Fabric: Tension fabric displays are lightweight and easy to apply, whether by velcro attachments or through rubber tubing. Available displays are compatible with kits for LED lights and mounts for monitors and televisions. Other display types, such as the Waveline, allow you to bring potentials into your booth from two directions instead of one.
  • Truss Displays: Truss displays dominate trade show booths today and can include accessories like arches and stand-offs. Truss sets are available in various shapes and sizes, allowing you to create a customized, standout booth to draw customers in to learn more.
  • Backlit Displays: Backlit displays feature LED lights to draw visitors to your booth. Backlit Hop Up, Vector Light Boxes, Hybrid Pro and Hanging Backlit displays include durable aluminum frames. Displays such as the Backlit Hop Up offer easy storage, shipping and handling due to their collapsible frames.
  • Media Displays: Media displays are popular because they can interact with people when you can’t. Commercials or promotional videos offer visitors extensive information on your product to build leads.
  • Hanging Displays: Hanging displays are a great example of items viewable from the primary level. The displays hang from the expo ceiling and dominate the building’s interior “skyline.” Due to their size, attendees will find your booth with ease.
  • Premium Displays: Premium displays are similar to hanging displays in their ability to capture a person’s attention. Customized for your needs, these displays can feature towers, arches and enclosed rooms.
  • Outdoor Displays: Canopy tents, sandwich boards and standing flags are common outdoor display options. Colorful banners or creative signs can catch the interest of people nearby.

Choose a display type that fits your trade show needs before beginning to design its graphics. Well-designed displays are effective because they convey an idea and image of both your company and product to consumers. You appear professional and reputable, which influences a person’s impression of your products.

How Trade Show Displays Pay Off

It’s important for exhibitors that their investment in a trade show, as well as their display, pays off. As we detailed in our guide on trade show budgeting, a substantial investment goes into trade shows.

High-quality displays are a smart, long-term investment because they provide you with a return on both the trade show and the display.

long term investment

Look at your trade show banner as a liaison between you and potential customers. It brings you valuable potential customers so you don’t have to go out and find them on the expo floor. Here are other ways trade show displays really pay off:

Trade Show Displays Build Your Network

Trade shows provide opportunities to network with potential companies and clients. While some of your fellow exhibitors are direct competitors, others are perfect collaborators.

Great exhibit partners are companies whose products and services are different from your own, but target the same market. Partnering and sharing contact information of potential leads is a common industry tactic for networking and improving your ROI.

Appearances are everything, and just as your trade show display forms consumer trust, it’ll also encourage potential exhibit partners to exchange information on potential customers with you.

Independent from your display, you can also reach out to potential attendees before the trade show. Contact lists from past trade shows can come handy during this step.

Ask to set up a meeting time at your booth to demonstrate and talk about your product or find out what they’re looking for. Pro tip: Choose an unusual meeting time, such as 9:35 a.m. versus 9:30 a.m. People are more likely to remember their meeting with you because of the unusual time increment.

After a trade show, it’s key to follow up with your new contacts. Only 27 percent of trade show leads are contacted, so don’t miss out on an opportunity to improve your ROI and secure those leads.

Trade Show Displays Return Your Investment

Your trade show display increases your ROI in two ways. First, it boosts your display’s ROI.

High-quality displays are about more than great design — they’re also about the quality of the signage’s hardware. Trade show displays travel several times a year, and all that shipping and travel time — plus alternating climates and varying humidity rates — can easily damage poor-quality displays, which is one reason why shipping insurance is a good investment if you’re traveling throughout the year to trade shows. The rush to set up and dismantle exhibits at expos can also lead to broken pieces or wrecked displays.

Well-made exhibits can withstand rough handling, whether by exhibit staff or delivery workers. Many high-quality displays feature easy and quick dismantling. Our pop-up displays, for example, are designed for ease. One person can easily set up, tear down and transport the display — all without using a third-party handler. Displays aren’t invincible, however. Many vendors retire their displays after four to seven years.

retire show displays

Accidents can happen before retirement, which is why it’s important to invest in a display from a reputable provider with a knowledgeable customer service team. Experienced providers can assist in repairing or replacing your exhibit before your next trade show.

The duration before your display begins earning its ROI is based on six factors, listed below:

  1. Your display’s upfront cost.
  2. Your display’s lifetime or limited warranty.
  3. Your display’s overall quality.
  4. Your display’s provider or manufacturer.
  5. Your display’s expected lifetime or use.
  6. Your display’s use at trade shows.

Purchase a durable, high-quality trade show display for your long-term use. Over time, you’ll earn back your investment when you compare it to buying and replacing multiple substandard displays throughout the years.

A well-designed, sturdy trade show display is also likely to positively impact your trade show ROI. Nearly 50 percent of businesses don’t calculate their trade show ROI, though. Find your ROI calculation from research both before and after your trade show event. In a previous post, we reviewed how to measure your trade show’s success, but we’ll review a few key factors and introduce a few others here.

trade show ROI

First, establish your goals, budget and how much of a return you’re anticipating. Adapt these parameters to each trade show. One show may appeal more to your target audience than another, which could impact your ROI.

Use software to gather the necessary data to calculate your trade show’s ROI. It’ll simplify the tracking of leads and sales.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a great tool for monitoring leads. Because most leads are passed to a sales team from trade show employees, CRM software makes it easy for the team to update a potential client’s status and grouping as a trade show attendee.

CRM software can also calculate the average lifetime value of your customers. Your customer’s average lifetime value indicates how much potential leads are worth, on average. Before your trade show, you’ll want to determine this figure, as it’ll impact your ROI calculations.

Other data to gather before your trade show include your company’s website traffic and social media activity, as well as the costs for attending the expo. You’ll also want to set a timeframe, or buying cycle, for how long leads remain active after a trade show ends.

Throughout and after the expo, you’ll want to track these KPIs:

  • Trade show booth attendance: Your trade show booth attendance is the strongest indicator of your exhibit’s success. Compare the number of people who visited your booth to the number of trade show attendees. Based on your resources, you can compare the number of booth visitors to the number of leads generated.
  • Customer meetings: Meetings — especially if you’ve reached out to attendees before the show — can happen in your booth and after the expo has finished. Log meetings and any notes in your CRM program to see whether your lead transitions to a customer.
  • Press coverage: Reach out to media outlets during the trade show to encourage media highlights of your company and product. Offer them demonstrations or sneak peaks of upcoming products to generate possible news coverage. Monitor and follow any generated press, whether positive or negative, during the trade show. While it’s difficult to measure the exact impact of press coverage, it can influence your company’s ROI.
  • Social media engagement: Similar to tracking your company’s media coverage, you’ll want to note any shifts on your social media pages. Increased likes, followers or retweets can all indicate how well your exhibit is faring and its potential for gaining new clients.
  • Direct marketing: At the end of your trade show, add earned contact information to your company’s mailing list. Send out a series of emails and monitor the click-through and open rate, as well as the number of subscribers who unsubscribed from the mailing list.

ROI calculations require time and patience, but once you have your data, you can do the math and see how profitable your display was.

Calculate your return one buying cycle after the trade show. Mark which revenue was from new customers and note transactions from previous customers that possibly resulted from the expo. You can track these amounts for more than one buying cycle, before comparing your revenue to the cost of the trade show.

Did Your Trade Show Display Pay Off?

If you forgot to calculate your return, like most businesses, don’t worry — there’s plenty of trade shows to attend. Remember, though — you don’t need an expensive trade show display to reach audiences or your ROI goal. You need a well-designed, effective display.

Reach your ROI goals with help from our trained graphic designers, who can create designs and recommend displays for reaching a variety of trade show audiences. Get a head-start and check out our selection of displays and exhibits — we guarantee the lowest pricing around!

Interested in learning more about why trade show displays matter and how to increase your ROI for expos? Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply