Outdoor Trade Show Display Options & Tips

Pop-Up Displays | Portable Displays | Trade Show Trenches
September 22, 2022

You may be wondering… how common are outdoor trade shows and events? Actually, very common. If you’ve ever attended outdoor weddings, renaissance fairs, wine tastings, garden shows, RV or farm shows, sporting events, or construction and manufacturing equipment trade shows  – those are outdoor events. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All those events or shows require displays or structures designed to withstand rain, wind, the sun, and uneven surfaces. 

An outdoor structure can be as simple as a lightweight rental trade show display for a non-profit or as elaborate as an aluminum extrusion display designed to showcase tractors at a state fair. And these often include outdoor graphic accessories like banner stands, flags, and A-frame signage.

Finding the Right Outdoor Trade Show Display

Let’s say you’ve decided to take space at a local farmer’s market. You’ll probably need a portable tent for either a 10 ft. or 20 ft. space. Think of a tent as a jacket or coat for your space. You can buy a lightweight inexpensive windbreaker, which should be fine for light winds and rain, but isn’t intended to survive long-term use or challenging weather. Which may be exactly what you need for now.

However, if you suspect you might need something warmer, more durable, or long-term, you should invest in a “jacket/tent” design to keep you safe and comfortable across a range of temperature and weather situations. Not only will they be more durable but they typically have features designed to make installing and using them easier and more trouble-free.

Nearly every outdoor display category includes good, better, or best products. Some of those categories even include purchase AND rental options. For example, large event tents are almost always rented since purchasing them rarely makes sense. As with any trade show or event, establishing goals and objectives will make these types of decisions much easier. Yes, budget matters, but there are a multitude of paths to stay within your budget without necessarily buying the most expensive or least expensive options. 


outdoor trade show display ideas

Outdoor Trade Show Display Ideas

There’s more to selecting the right trade show and retail outdoor display than you may realize.  For most businesses, outdoor signage plays an important part in attracting customers whether it’s at a fair or on the sidewalk in front of the store. These displays are specifically designed for outdoor use, meaning they’ll survive sun, wind, and rain for months, even years.  

Outdoor Displays and Signage categories include:

  • Sidewalk Signs
  • Tents
  • Table Throws
  • Exterior-Rated LED Lightboxes
  • A-Frame and Real Estate Signs
  • Street Pole Banners
  • Flags and Banner Stands
  • Vinyl and Fabric Backdrops
  • Outdoor Tables and Chairs
  • Café Umbrellas 
  • Barriers

10 Keys to Successful Outdoor Signage

By and large, outdoor signage isn’t much different than 3D signage or graphics for indoor trade show displays. Follow these tips to ensure your outdoor signage has the best chance of being successful.

1. Location Matters

In most places, there are laws regulating the size and placement of outdoor signage. Understanding those regulations means you’ll be both compliant and have a better idea of where to place your signage. Position it to avoid obstructions like trees, scrubs, and poles, and consider the shape, size, and color to maximize visibility

2. Font Facts

Choose a font that’s easy to read and use mixed case letters rather than all caps. Plan for 1 inch of letter height for every 10 feet of viewing distance.

3. Color Theory and White Space

A good graphic designer will choose contrasting colors, such as black on yellow or dark blue on white. However, your existing branding will dictate which colors you can or can’t use. The proper amount of “white space” is also important; 30% to 40% of your sign’s area should be left bare to prevent visual clutter, which impairs readability.

4. Brevity

The average adult reads @ 250 words per minute, or four words per second, so message clarity and brevity are crucial. Consider a short headline and then supporting text or visuals below. There’s one exception to that rule: abbreviations. Studies show that abbreviations take 800 to 1,000 milliseconds to read—considerably slower than the non-abbreviated rate of 250 milliseconds per word. So, avoid them unless they’re essential to your message.

5. Digital Signage

With the ever-increasing growth, affordability, and ease of use of LED sign technology, changing your message as often as you want has never been easier. Digital signage has been shown to increase brand awareness by 47.7%, average purchase amounts by 29.5%, and repeat purchases by 32.8%, making it an extremely worthwhile investment.

6. What’s the Benefit?

All too often, the message is all about features and not about the benefits. Let’s say you’re a bank at a local festival. Your features may include multiple branches, Monday thru Saturday hours, and wealth management services. Potential clients may not automatically translate those features into local offices, convenient hours, and investment services without that additional messaging.

7. Personalize the Message

When customers can visualize themselves using your products, they’re more likely to buy. Messages become much stronger with the addition of “you” or “your.” “You’ll be a hero tonight with X.” “You’ll make heads turn with Y!” “Manage your curly hair with Z.” The words “I,” “me,” and “my” have a similar personalizing effect.

8. Creativity Crushes

Boring signs are boring. Humor and clever wordplay are great ways to grab people’s attention and show them that you’re a fun business. Customers are more likely to approach your stand or business if it begins with a smile or a laugh.

9. Create a Sense of Urgency

Impulse buys account for up to 55% of all retail sales. Time-sensitive specials or offers urge people to act NOW. For example, “3 Day Only Mattress Sale!” “Limited Space Available: Call Today!” “Buy One, Get One Free – While Supplies Last.”

10. Sing Your Praises

Don’t be shy! Brag about your business by using customer testimonials, rave reviews, and/or calling out any distinctions or awards. There’s a reason why review sites are so popular. People want to hear what others have to say about your business.


tent booths

Your Options with Tent Booths

You may be asking yourself, “How difficult can it be to choose a tent? Don’t they kinda all look the same?” Take a moment to enter “event tents” or “outdoor tents” into Google. The size, price, and style possibilities are, frankly, overwhelming. Layer on the graphic choices and it becomes even more daunting. But let’s simplify it into a handful of categories:

Pop-Up Canopies: Pop-up tents bring versatile shelter and custom advertising to any event, Like parties, sporting competitions, fairs, festivals, and other outdoor events. Pop-Up (or Instant) tents require no assembly and can be transported to virtually any location. 

Inflatable Tents: Inflatable Tents or Canopies are pole-less and can be set up by one person – secure the tent base on the ground, pump the air in, peg the guy lines, and you’re done!

Event Tents: Whether you choose a printed or unprinted event tent, these large structures have the potential to transform a casual business or social gathering into a memorable event. The only real decision is whether to rent or purchase, how many and how large.  

Star Tents: A star tent or arch tent may be the perfect solution. Eye-catching, easy to assemble, and available with custom options, star tents, and arch tents are great shelter solutions for events of all kinds. 

Partnering with Exhibits NW for an Outdoor Trade Show Display

Not sure where to start when planning for an outdoor trade show or event? Contact the professionals at Exhibits Northwest. With three decades of experience, our team has the knowledge and the creativity to tackle your most challenging outdoor display requirements. We’ll get you noticed!

Schedule a Call

If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form, and we’ll contact you shortly.

Schedule a Call
If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.