Tips for Planning Your Next Trade Show

Posted by: Stoner Bunting 04/28/2015

Trade Show Attendees

As we prepare to attend the 2015 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City, we thought it important to discuss the importance of a well thought out pre-show planning strategy for trade show exhibitors. Stoner Bunting has quite a bit of experience when it comes to trade shows, and even though we have collectively attended hundreds of these shows over the years, we are always learning new ways to enhance our client’s efforts and show presence. Below are a few of these helpful suggestions from our latest eBook, Maximize Your ROI: How to Justify Your Trade Show Spend.

ABOVE: Showgoers attend ICFF (Photo Courtesy of

Choose Wisely, Plan Purposefully
One of the most important steps in the trade show process is actually choosing what show, or multiple shows, to attend each year. Remember, not every show is worth your time or money, and it’s important to focus your efforts on ones that will have the biggest impact on your business.

While we applaud new trade shows and events popping up throughout the industry, we strongly recommend avoiding them until they iron out any kinks and make it through those initial growing pains. If you analyze your potential return on investment and feel it is important to exhibit at a new show make sure to ask for a discount…show organizers will likely oblige as they are looking for new blood!

Once you have decided to exhibit at a show, don’t forget to do your research and plan purposefully. In addition to checking the show’s website for audience size and demographics, read what industry bloggers and the broader industry are saying about the show. These individuals often serve as a great resource for unvarnished opinions.

Finally, reserve your space as soon as possible to get a prime booth space. The last thing you want is to do all of this planning and then get stuck with a leftover location in the back of the convention center, or cramped into a space too small for your needs.

Look For Educational Opportunities

ABOVE: Interior Designers attend an ASID program at ICFF (Photo Courtesy of

Another tactic for choosing a trade show is to look for opportunities to offer seminars or continuing education units (CEUs). Offering a CEU course gives busy professionals and other industry members something more than a sales pitch in return for their time. It also helps to build your credibility as a brand, while giving you a chance to connect with your audience and gain a better return on your investment.

CEUs have become commonplace at many shows, including larger conventions like American Institute of Architect’s National Convention and ICFF. While attending ICFF in a few weeks, we will be surrounded by ongoing courses and seminars. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) partners with ICFF to provide these valuable events as a way to build on its emphasis of interdisciplinary and cross-functional relationships among designers of all specialties in the industry.

The ASID educational series for the 2015 ICFF will include:
• Crossing Borders: The Evolution of INNOVAD Architecture and 13&9 Design
• Translating Interior to Products: The Process Behind Licensing Agreements
• Powered by Collaboration: Art & Design
• Leverage, Build, and Brand: Understanding How to Create Your Online Presence
• Man Made Natural: Insights Into the Authenticity of Materials
• Leveraging Color’s Power to Create a Successful Design
• 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design
• Design For the Modern Micro-Space: A Home For The Socially Inspired
• Productivity and Accountability Tools to Manage Your Work Flow
• Leading by Design: Krista Ninivaggi’s Professional Perspective
• Navigating the Many Roads of Interior Design

Positioned on the show floor, the ASID educational series will bring together thought leaders and industry experts to present provocative content throughout ICFF. Sessions will appeal to a cross-section of design markets and include topics on business practices, design’s impact on human health and wellness, housing trends, and materials.
Registered session attendees will earn 0.1 Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC) approved continuing education units (CEU) per session.

Make A Lasting Impression

ABOVE: Our client Wood-Mode made a huge splash at KBIS 2015 while honoring the service dog industry.

Once you’ve decided on a show to attend, with the perfect attendee demographics and psychographics, it’s time to design an effective trade show booth that actually makes a lasting impression and brings in the window shoppers. Remember, no one is actually buying at a trade show, but they are more likely to buy in the future if you impress them.

We recommend that you consider these five key takeaways when designing your next trade show booth:
1 | Remember the Audience
2 | The 5-Second Window
3 | Design for a Crowd
4 | Skip the Seating
5 | Show, Don’t Tell