31 Trade Show Display Supplies You Don’t Want To Be Without

trade show display supplies

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If you’re looking for additional ways to get exposure for your business in local communities, trade shows are definitely something to consider.  They give you the opportunity to showcase your products and services to new people that may not have ever seen you before.  When you have the right trade show display supplies, you can do trade shows very successfully, and leave with a list of new prospects and business opportunities.

Unfortunately, the opposite could be true if you attend a trade show unprepared.  You could leave with little to no return on your invested time, so it’s important to have the right trade show display supplies, so you can make the most of the opportunity.

Being Prepared with Trade Show Display Supplies vs. Being Unprepared

If you’ve never been to a trade show, it’s usually a busy event. Businesses have several booths set up, people are talking and interacting, and everyone’s vying for the attention of those walking thru, but there’s always someone who seems to get all the people to stop by, and someone who seems to be standing there with an empty booth, listening to the crickets.

Your preparedness can make sure you’re an attractive stop for your target audience.  Here’s a list of 31 trade show display supplies you don’t want to be without at your next show…

trade show display supplies1. Shopping Bags

One reason why many people come to trade shows is to buy unique items there.  If you have things to sell, you can take advantage of the traffic and the sale by giving custom shopping bags to customers who make a purchase: this serves as social proof that people are buying from you and low cost advertising for your business.  Shopping bags are known to give high impressions for a low cost and spike referral traffic.

2. Custom Prospect Forms (Digital or Physical)

One main reason to attend a trade show is to leave with new prospects, but you won’t be able to take advantage of this if you don’t have a way to record contact info.  Whether you decide to complete your prospect forms digitally orr physically won’t really make a big difference as long as they get done. Custom prospect forms enable you to take name, email, phone number, and any other valuable information that would make follow-up easy for you.

3. Shirts to Represent Your Brand

Sometimes, the first impression is all you have. Some people will simply be browsing around and they’ll look at you as the advertisement for your business. If you and those at your booth wear shirts that represents your brand, you can communicate a message up close, far away, at the booth, or even as you walk around.  Wearing custom shirts makes you like a walking billboard, which can be powerful for your business at a trade show!

4. Retractable Banners

Retractable banners are portable, they can be printed with lots of color, they’re attractive, and can say a lot about your company.  They can help you communicate a lot in a small space.  Using retractable banners as a part of your setup is an easy accent that can add more attractiveness to your booth setup.

5. Custom Table Cloth

Entrepreneurs who regularly do trade shows will tell you, sometimes the tables will be okay and sometimes, they’ll be a disaster.  It’s best to take a table cloth (especially one that represents your brand).  A custom table cloth can capture attention from across the room, it hides whatever blemishes may be present on the venue’s tables, and it makes your brand aesthetics look nice.

6. Business Cards

One of the main things that’s exchanged at a trade show is business cards.  People expect to to collect information of businesses and follow up later or share their findings with friends and family.  You can give traditional paper business cards, business card magnets, or other promo items with your business contact information on it.

trade show display supplies7. Business Card Holders

If you take traditional paper business cards, they can be easily damaged by the elements: water, heat, being stepped on, or being folded can ruin them.  You want to preserve them so they’ll serve the purpose your intended.  Business card holders come in various shapes and sizes, but it’s important to keep a business card holder, so you’ll protect your cards from the potential wear and tear.

8. Promo Items

The purpose in custom promo items is to grow brands awareness, to make a positive impression of your brand, and to get new customers.  Promo items can range from shirts, mugs, pens, magnets, or kitchenware–the selection of items you can get custom imprinted with your logo is in the millions.  They are really great to have with your trade show display supplies!

9. Name Tags

Being on a name to name basis establishes immediate rapport.  No one wants to be “that girl” or “that guy”, but without name tags, the people working your booth will be “those people”.  Keep name tags for you and the people working your booth, so people can identify you by name and build a better rapport.

10. A Bowl to Collect Business Cards

You’ll be giving out business cards, but people will also give you business cards. You can quickly end up with a disorganized mess of you don’t have somewhere designated for collected business cards to go.  I’ve seen many people use a bowl for collecting business cards and that seems to work well.

11. Pens/Pencils

Whether you’re doing a raffle, taking down someone’s information or being asked for something to write with, it’s really crucial to have several writing utensils with your trade show display supplies.  Going a step further, if you have custom pens and pencils, you can hand them out as an additional opportunity for advertising.  Pens and pencils are one of the lowest cost, highest impression forms of advertisement.  Check them out!

12. Scissors

Set up, tear down, and simply involvement in the event can present may surprise reasons why you may need scissors.  You may need to hang your signs in an non-traditional way, clip strings from your table cloth, or cut something completely unexpected.  It’s best to be prepared with a pair of scissors.

trade show display supplies13. Sharpies

For set up and tear down, you want to stay as organized as possible. Typically, you’ll have boxes and containers, and sometimes, you may shift your inventory or supplies around.  It’s nice to have sharpies to keep things labeled, so you’ll know where you put everything.  Labeling your trade show display supplies with sharpies can come especially handy if you have an event that’s more than one day, and you set up and tear down for days in a row, or if you simply want a seamless transition from the venue to home (or storage).

14. Sticky Notes

Often times our brains roll with ideas at miles per minute, and the ideas can be packed with actionable items.  You might need to have a person help send out “thank you letters”, another get the ice for the water, and another set up the business card holders, but the ideas are just rolling all together and jumbling around in your head.

Sticky notes are perfect for organizing chaotic thoughts!  You can jot the thoughts down on a sticky and post them in a place to help remember. You can use them to give instructions to those helping out at the booth, or you can give yourself reminders–whatever the case, sticky notes can be a great solution.

If you want, you can even get sticky notes custom branded with your logo, so it’s another way of representing your brand.

15. Rubber Bands

With the growing collection of business cards, the stickie notes, the pens, pencils, sharpies, and other little trinkets you’ll be using, it can be helpful to have rubber bands to wrap things up and keep them together.  They can help make sure your belongings don’t get lost and you keep a good handle on the trade show display supplies you brought.

16. Stapler

You may need to staple business cards to shopping bags or catalogs, staple a brochure with a business card, staple receipts, or serve multiple purposes.  A stapler alongside all of the other office supplies can really be helpful.

17. Computer, TV, Smart Phone, Tablet

Often times, businesses will set up a tablet, computer, or smartphone to display a presentation that tells about the brand.  It can be a way to inform visitors to your booth (even if you and you’re helpers are occupied).  Technology gives you the ability to leverage work you’ve done before to make the most of times like trade show displays.

trade show display supplies18. Chords for Technology

Once you have your nice presentation set up and running, the last thing you want is for the device to die or stop working.  You want to make sure you have chargers, HDMI chords, wall outlet chords, extension chords, and any other chords you’ll need to keep your presentation operational throughout the trade show.

19. Charger for Technology

Added onto your presentation device, you will likely need your phone, a camera, maybe a voice recorder, a credit card machine, and other devices to fully operate your booth.  Each device will need chords and chargers to stay operational throughout the event.  Make sure to bring all of the chargers you need with your trade show display supplies because having something happen like a phone die can be really distracting during the event.

20. Snacks

While ideally, you want to rotate meal times with whoever you’re working the booth with, it’s possible you might get hungry in between, and you may even have patrons who get hungry at the event.  It’s nice to have snacks on hand, so you can make sure to top off your appetite during the event.  Added onto your own appetite, tradeshow visitors love free food!  Of course, you want to plan carefully and make sure you’re achieving your ultimate goals, but if you decide to give snacks at your booth, you’d definitely attract more visitors.

21. Mints

Any time it’s likely you’ll be in close proximity with people, it’s always nice to have mints.  At tradeshows, the room can be packed pretty tight and you might find yourself talking rather closely with others.  Keeping breath mints for you and others can help keep communication favorable and enjoyable.  You can get custom wrapped mints that display your logo on the top that would be a sure way to make an impression of your brand and serve a useful purpose.

22. Water

This may be one of the most important trade show display supplies!  With all of the talking that goes on at a tradeshow, you will surely get thirsty at some point.  You want to bring water. It’s likely, you’ll be on your feet for long periods of time, and you can get sick from not drinking enough water.  Safeguard yourself by drinking water.  If you like, you can even get custom water bottles with your brand and slogan imprinted on them!

23. Hand Sanitizer

It’s common to do a lot of shaking hands, exchanging money, or simply wiping across items that thousands of others had touched.  Germs are easily spread in high traffic environments like trade shows.  It’s helpful to have hand sanitizer on hand.  You can keep a simple and small stash for yourself, or you can use hand sanitizer as a custom promo item also.

trade show display supplies24. Jump Drive/USB Drives

If you want a backup of your presentation or any other files for “just in case”, you’d want to keep a USB or portable external computer storage that could hold your files.  Maintaining extra computer storage can come in handy just in case one technology device you have isn’t working, you can install the USB into an alternate device and still operate fairly unscathed.

26. Trash Bags

With snacks, receipts, water bottles, and people laying things around, you can end up with lots of trash.  You want to be able to clean up trash, and trash bags can also serve as a means to carry extra stuff that you didn’t plan for.

27. Ziploc Bags

Ziploc bags can be used to store your rubber bands, paperclips, staples or other office supplies.  They also can be used to store other small items you may need as you’re building or tearing down your display: screws, nails, screwdriver bits, etc.

28. Cleaning Supplies

Sometimes, messes can happen, or you might inherit a messy area, and you have to turn it around to get optimal results during the show.  It’s best to have cleaning supplies on hand to make sure you keep your area tidy and smelling nice.

29. Games for Engagement

You want people to come back to your booth, and games can draw a large engaged crowd.  You can do contest, competitions, or games that incite laughter.  Adding games into the mix can make your booth bolster lots of entertainment and engagement.

30. Power Strips and Extension Cords

It’s hard to know ahead of time how many outlets you’ll have at your booth, and if the outlets closest to you will be sufficient for everything you have planned.  It’s best to be prepared with extension cords and power strips to make sure you have enough power to keep everything charged, to operate whatever equipment or lighting you have, and to make certain, you have a successful event.

31. Giveaways

There should be many pathways to your business key performance indicators at the tradeshow.  For example, you can have an email signup, a phone signup, product samples, or some type of presentation that proves the value of your product or service for people in the research phase of the customer purchase life cycle.  To maintain engagement and incentivize behaviors that push people thru your sales funnel, you can have promo items and giveaways.

Recommended Vendors for Trade Show Display Supplies

If you’re interested in getting your trade show display supplies, but you want a good trusted vendor who will deliver great quality, these are my top recommended vendors:

Final Words on Trade Show Display Supplies You Don’t Want to Be Without

The goal of this article was to show 31 things you don’t want to be without at your next trade show. It’s always best to be prepared at trade shows because if you’re not, you won’t get the same return from the time you’re spending at the show.  If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.  I’d love to help you out!

Now, it’s Your Turn…

Have you set up at trade shows?  What trade show display supplies do you think are mandatory?  If you haven’t set up at a trade show before, what trade show display supplies have you seen others use? How did they use it? Leave you comments below.

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8 thoughts on “31 Trade Show Display Supplies You Don’t Want To Be Without”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more that trade shows are a great way to market your business and gain more customers. When I had a baby store I really wanted to do a trade show but since I was a new mom and everything was always so rushed I never went because I never felt I was prepared enough and yes you have to make a really good impression. This article would have come so in handy for me to prepare me for a trade show! I had no idea where to start or what to get so I never got started. 

    1. Hi Lynne! I’ve seen fear paralyze people so many times. I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs in your situation who are confused about what to do and what to get, which is why I wrote this article. Hopefully if you consider again in the future, this list will be helpful for you.

  2. Thanks for the complete list to attend the trade show. I am going to bookmark this post and it will definately be a great help in preparing for the show in near future.  Is there anything else that you would like to recommend if have not listed here for any reason? 

    1. Hi Sanjay! I tried to make this list include the basic MUST HAVES, but every person is different, so you might find something you like to bring as a preference. This list of 31 things are the must haves from my experience. Hopefully this helps.

  3. This is definitely the GO-TO shopping list for the trade show entrepreneur. I have done many a trade show and another thing I have found that brings people over is anything that moves; balloons, flags (in case you are outside) with your logo on it, streamers, etc. The movement attracts the eye and if you combine all that is listed with the moving objects, you will not only be organized, you will attract many people’s curiosity.

    I used to use a water-wall to attract my customer’s attention; or at least that’s what we called it. Basically, it was a plexi-glass container with an aquarium pump attached to a rod at the bottom of the container. We punched holes in the plastic rod, filled the container with water and put a fluorescent light under it. The light lit up the container and the bubbles that continually rose to the top captured people’s attention. My customers loved it. It was a great conversation piece and that got people over to me so I could talk to them about my wares.

    This is excellent information. I love reading your articles. Keep up the good work.

    1. The waterwall is a great accent piece for a trade show! Great point. I’m glad you found the list helpful. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. Hello Tiffany,

    I told you that I was lucky to attend many international fairs in different countries. In the days that the event lasts, people from all over the world attend, buyers and sellers. They are very rich experiences for all the participants. As you explain, it is very important to be prepared as professional salespeople that we pretend to be. Your post brings to mind memories of these exhibitions where I found beautiful moments. Thanks for sharing!

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