Trade show merchandising tips

You’ve done your research, know your product has value in the market, now you need to create excitement and get that much needed return on the investment you’ve made as an exhibitor.  Do not let your merchandising be an afterthought. And, if you are an action sports or outdoor retailer, you have the added benefit of displaying toys!  Let your merchandising reflect that spirit!

Your trade show booth need not be fancy or costly to draw attention, and can be incredibly effective if you remember some basic information:

  • Try not to create a barrier to product investigation with your table placement.  Encourage touch!
  • Think about what Seth Godin refers to as your ‘purple cow.’ Can you spotlight what is remarkable and different about your merchandise?  If your product is wearable, consider dressing your representatives with your product like you would if they were mannequins in a window display.  Your product representatives are a walking, talking advertisement—take advantage of that!
  • If your booth has the standard black curtain for backdrop, add color or rope lighting or crisp signage, something to grab attention from a distance.  Burlap, felt covered boxes as risers for shoes, maybe colorful yoga mats as the backdrop for yoga clothing.  Add natural elements, like Ribzwear did at with manzanita trees at Outdoor Retailerimage
  • Do not forget about the power of color to create calm out of chaos!  If you have ever walked the floor of a trade show, you know the sounds and sights can be overwhelming and exhausting to attendees.  An organized, crisp booth will naturally draw the eye.  At Outdoor Retailer, I passed by countless apparel booths.  The ones that grabbed my attention had chosen to spotlight a portion of their selection in a color coordinated and categorial fashion.  For example, common colors at this show were orange and bright blue.  Even if a line had many more colors to chose from, using just these two was effective eye candy!
  • Draw the eye up, do not leave the top of your booth wall empty.  This is an excellent opportunity to get attention from a distance.  (Check out how Burton displays their packs in the 2010 SIA booth of the year nominee video.)
  • Walk the floor of a few trade shows and check out how the bigger brands display their product and then adapt some of those elements in a way that makes sense for you.  Things to look for as you do your research: color usage, lighting elements, fixture placement and structure, use of texture, signage.  What gets your attention? Why?  Notice how booths that tell a story, like Burton and Ride did at 2010 SIA draw you in.
  • Do not underestimate the power of body forms both for apparel and for suggesting usage of your product.  If you sell apparel, maybe cross merchandise a fellow brand in your display and have them do the same for you (i.e. you sell outerwear and your neighbor sells snowshoes).  Help each other out.

Your booth is your ‘store window,’ and ideally spotlights your product in a way that silently suggests action, use, and uniqueness.  Make your attendance at the show count—or like my daughters and friends said when they were competitive freestylers “Go big or go home!”

Merchandising Matters can help you drive sales to your booth.  Contact us for a complimentary consultation today!

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