Halloween Costumes and Trade Show Displays: The Surprising Similarities



By Lisa Shackelford, Marketing Coordinator at FB Displays & Designs, Inc.

The end of October is an exciting time of year in my household. Pumpkins are carved, the aroma of hot cider fills the air and the fall foliage starts to create an orange and yellow blanket on my front yard. One of my most treasured fall traditions is the selection of Halloween costumes for my dogs.



Every year, our Coonhound Dulce has been donning a costume to greet the trick-or-treaters. She has been dressed as a Pumpkin, a Zebra, and a Bumblebee (as seen above). Since this year we will be celebrating with two dogs, one will be dressed as an angel and one as a devil.

What does my affinity to dress my pets in ridiculous attire have to do with trade shows? Preparing an exhibit for a trade show is much like preparing a Halloween costume. There are several similar considerations.

  • You have a budget. While you may not have an exact figure, you have a ballpark range of how much you can spend.
  • Just like a costume, your exhibit looks better when your accessories match the theme. If you decide to dress up as a firefighter, you wouldn’t wear a cowboy hat and boots.  The same philosophy applies to a trade show exhibit. All of the accessories need to match the message of the display.
  • Displays that are unique and creative stand out from the rest of the crowd. While a black cat costume consisting of cat ears and a black outfit is very forgettable, a vampire costume with fangs and meticulously designed make-up is likely to drawn quite a bit of attention.
  • The earlier in advance you plan, the better. If you wait until the last minute, you may not be able to have your display ready in time.  If something goes wrong, there is little to no time to fix it.  When you buy a costume, it is much easier to find the right materials if you begin planning weeks in advance.  Last minute preparations often look as though they were done last minute.
  •  The exhibit should be appropriate for the attendees. You would not wear a leotard with cat ears and fishnets to work or wear an overly gruesome zombie costume to an elementary school event. The same principle applies to trade show environments.  If your audience is mostly women, hiring female models to staff your booth may not be a wise choice.  If you are attending a technology show, bringing printed literature may seem out of place.
  • Just like a costume, a display represents a character. The character being depicted through your exhibit is your company and brand. The appearance of the display will shape attendees’ opinions of the “personality” of your company and brand.

When preparing your trade show display, approach the process much in the same way you would when you are planning your Halloween costume. Have a budget in mind, plan ahead make sure that all details of the exhibit emphasize your main message.




The Final Countdown: What You Should Be Doing the Week Before Your Trade Show

 Lisa Shackelford, Marketing Coordinator at FB Displays & Designs, Inc. 

This past week, the FBD2 team has been preparing to exhibit at the Buffalo Business Growth Expo.  Like any other exhibitor, we spend the week before a show making sure that there are no surprises when we arrive. Here are some of our suggestions for what to do a week before you attend a trade show.

  • Kick your pre-show promotions into high gear. Use your social media channels to remind your clients that you will be at the trade show and tell them where to find your booth.  Send an email to your contacts about your show participation. Set up meetings with current and potential clients who will be attending the show.
  • Put together a trade show first aid kit.  Use a durable container, like a small plastic tote box with a snap-on lid. You can re-use this for future shows, as long as you replenish the kit before each show. Include the following items: several pens, a sharpie, tide-to-go pens, breath mints, an extension cord, a surge protector, post-its, rubber bands, a stapler, safety pins, scissors, paper clips, a Phillips head and flat head screw driver, double-sided tape, medicine for minor ailments (i.e. over-the-counter painkillers, cold relief, antacids etc.), generic business cards, lead forms, bandages and chargers for all electronics.
  • Re-read your exhibitors’ handbook and check to make sure all required paperwork has been returned to the appropriate person.
  • Research both the venue and the surrounding area.  Find out where parking are  located, where the loading zones are, and take note of what is in the immediate area around the venue.
  • Meet with your booth staff and finish any pre-show training. Review any information that your staff needs to know. Create a booth schedule and give each staffer a copy.  Make sure that time is allotted for meal breaks and for staffers to walk the floor. Give your staffers an itinerary of the show so that they know what to expect.
  • Confirm all your travel plans. Check the status of your flights every 3-4 hours the day before you leave. Confirm your hotel reservations. Prepare duplicate copies of your flight itinerary and hotel confirmations. Leave one copy at your office and keep one copy on you at the show.
  • Track the shipment of your display. Make sure that your display has been delivered on time and keep a copy of the tracking numbers with you.  Before you begin setting up, take inventory of your materials and make sure everything has arrived.

While the week before a trade show can be hectic, taking some extra time to make sure that all your ducks are in a row will prevent you from entering panic mode if something goes wrong. If you use the week before the show to organize, you can spend your time at the trade show concentrating on generating leads and winning new customers.