An exhibitor’s guide to trade shows & conferences

Trade shows: the perfect opportunity to meet one-on-one with prospective and current customers in your target audience. There’s no better place to flex your business’ muscle and show that you’re committed to excellence in your industry than a trade show. New products, services, or an innovative business approach are all commonly found at these events. No matter what you have up your sleeve, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of trade show planning to harness the full potential of these industry events. We’re here to layout the details of trade show planning; from goal setting, to booth design and setup, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know to successfully attend and exhibit at a trade show.

Pre-show Planning

It would be a mistake to underestimate the work that goes into planning and executing an effective trade show appearance. Attending a trade show is not a decision that can be made overnight. For shows that require considerable travel time, planning 6-12 months in advance is recommended (and might we add, extremely necessary) to iron out all the fine details. Simply put, there’s more to a trade show than just purchasing booth space and presenting to the crowd. To help you cover all the bases, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about pre-show planning and how you can best prepare your business for trade show success. We’ve also included a check-list to help guide you in your trade show planning.

Find The Trade Show For Your Business

Trade shows come in all shapes and sizes no matter what industry you are a part of. With an extensive list of available trade shows throughout the nation, it’s important to narrow down your choices to find the one that best fits your business. Luckily there are a handful of comprehensive, online databases that can help you sift through all the options.

With plenty of online resources, it’s hard not to find a trade show that fits your business. Beyond the sites above, typically each industry will have some kind of news source where trade shows themselves are advertising themselves in order to have a successful event.

If you’re attending a trade show for the first time, you may want to narrow your search to events that are tailored for smaller businesses. Exhibiting at a larger industry trade show may not be the best idea initially; big shows mean more competition on the floor and less quality time with prospective business leads.

Testing out small to medium-sized trade shows will give your business a chance to iron out the process and gauge the return on your investment before exhibiting at the bigger and more expensive trade shows within your industry.

We highly recommend looking at the vision or reason for the trade show. Is the trade show held for product launches / demonstrations, or is it specifically designed to meet potential clients? Trade shows come in all shapes and sizes, so knowing the purpose behind the show will help you tailor your booth and goal setting to optimize your business’ trade show performance. Types of trade shows include:

  • Industry trade shows – industry specific trade shows that are generally used for networking and seeing industry trends and innovations
  • Vendor trade shows – vendors within your specific industry market and advertise at these events
  • Product trade shows – new product launches and product innovations are found at these trade shows
  • Consumer trade shows – trade shows open to the public, giving the public opportunity to view businesses and products within a specified industry

Choose Your Booth

Choosing floor space should be done as soon as registering for the trade show begins. Premium booth space goes quickly, so the sooner you register, the better. We recommend scoping out the floor plan of the trade show venue to locate where the premium spaces are located. Trade show venues often provide online floor plans for this purpose. If possible, attend the trade show you’re planning on registering for a year in advance as a visitor; doing so will help you get acquainted with the overall feel of the event and a sense of where heavy foot traffic occurs. Of course, any attendee should know that the booth locations with the heaviest foot traffic will also come at the highest costs. Thus, it may be wise to test out the trade show at a cheaper booth spot and verify that your company generates a positive ROI from the show before committing to one of the more expensive and/or larger booth spaces. The cost of renting space varies depending on the trade show and where the space is located in the venue.

Designing your Booth

Putting effort into designing your booth displays will give you an upper hand on the trade show floor, in summary, your trade show displays should have a simple design and that is easily understood (meaning, not text or image heavy). Clearly portray your booth’s purpose by using concise wording and simple images; the goal of your displays is to create curiosity and inform. Be unique by using bright colors and attractive images to instantly draw attention to your booth.

What are standoffs?

One of the most professional ways to hang a sign in a business setting is to use standoffs. First impressions are important to guests and customers. Having a clean, elegant finish to your sign sends an unspoken message of trust, and pride in what you do. As a visitor to a restaurant, an office, or a public building, you might not notice exactly how a sign is hanged, but it’s the small details that make all the difference in how a sign looks and feels.

I’m going to dive into the details of sign standoffs—what they are, why and when you should use them, and how they work. I’ll also go over which signs work best with standoffs and how to easily add them to your order with our user-friendly design tool. I’ll finish off today’s post by sharing a few examples of fully installed standoffs. Let’s dive in!

What are standoffs?

Standoffs, sometimes called standoff screws are a hardware option for hanging a rigid sign through drilled holes. Standoffs attach your sign to a wall, placing an aesthetically pleasing gap of one inch in between the sign material and the wall. The result: a dramatic and eye-catching display.

Standoffs function as fasteners, creating a durable mount for any sign. They also become part of the design and presentation of the finished sign. Standoff screws are usually round and fit through the drilled holes on your sign. Standoffs are commonly made of aluminum, brass, or nylon. There are many different finishes for standoffs including brushed, chrome, nickel, anodized, and more. Our standoffs are a beautiful brushed, anodized aluminum that look great with any sign.

Why use standoffs?

There are many ways to hang your sign, however, unlike traditional signage installations, standoffs give your sign a refreshing three-dimensional look. With standoffs, your sign is projected from the wall for an eye-catching display sure to impress any visitor. Standoffs allow your sign to literally pop from the wall.

Standoff screws are not only attractive, they also support the weight of a sign firmly to a wall, so you don’t have to worry about your sign falling down from tape or other adhesive hanging methods. Standoffs are the preferred option for logo signs above a reception desk, a directory sign, and even look good for room identification signs. You can also use standoffs to hang a permanent menu in a restaurant or hang a piece of art printed on acrylic or metal

How standoffs work

A standoff screw is an assembly of hardware that includes the standoff mount, screw, washers, and dry-wall anchor. By itself, a standoff screw isn’t very strong, but like a bundle of sticks, when multiple standoffs are used together—one in each corner, or centered—they can hold a sign in place for years.

To use this elegant hanging solution for your needs, the sign must have predrilled holes where the standoff screws will be placed. When you order a sign from us using our design tool, drilled holes will automatically come with your sign when you choose to include standoffs with your sign. You can also select to have holes drilled without ordering standoffs if you desire.

The most common arrangement for sign standoffs is to have them placed in the four corners of a square or rectangular sign. You can also have the standoffs placed in the corners and the top & bottom of your sign for added support. If your sign is created with a contour cut, meaning that the shape of the sign is custom, then you can select custom placement to have your standoffs wherever you want.

If you select custom placement in the design tool, you’ll be prompted to provide a note describing where you want your holes drilled for your standoffs. Be as specific as you can to ensure your sign is created the way you want it. Another option is to have your standoffs placed at the top and bottom center of your sign or simply from the top corners only. Here is a complete list of the options for mounting your sign with standoffs:

  • Four corners
  • Corners & top & bottom center
  • Custom placement
  • Top & bottom center
  • Top corners only

The best way to mount the sign with standoffs is to take measurements where the hole centers will be and lightly mark the wall with a pencil. You can also hold your sign up to the wall and use the pre-drilled holes as a template to mark the wall with a pencil where to drill. Just make sure you use a level so your sign is mounted straight. A small hole is drilled into the wall where the anchor is then inserted. After the anchor is placed, the standoff is placed over the anchor and the screw is drilled into the anchor through the hole on the back of the standoff. Once the standoff is in place, the sign with predrilled holes is held over the mounted standoffs with a plastic washer between the end of the standoff and the back of the sign. The Standoff screw cap is then threaded into the standoff housing with a second plastic washer on the front side of the sign.