How To Make A Killer Trade Show Booth On A Budget

Marketing Associate
Stories January 20, 2019 How To Make A Killer Trade Show Booth On A Budget

  • How can you create a super successful trade show booth and get the most bang for your buck?
  • Is it possible to spend 30% of what other attendees are spending and get more leads, attention, and engagement?

Those were the questions we tried to answer this spring at TechDay 2017.

If you search Google for trade show displays, you’ll easily find displays and setups that cost well over $1000, but that’s a heck of a lot of money for equipment you might only use every now and then.

For TechDay 2017, we sought to make a bold, eye-catching booth without breaking the bank. The results were great: people were engaged and excited to talk to us, our booth was hardly ever empty, and we got some great leads.

In this post, we’re going to share the strategies and resources we used to make and design a booth that’ll make you stand out, with the nice bonus of being economical.

Our staff working the booth at NY TechDay 2017.

The Booth: Signage and Equipment

We only spent $248.96 on all signage and equipment that you see in our booth in the below picture.

Here’s the breakdown on everything we bought and where we bought it. These aren’t affiliate links and we’re not making any money from recommending these products; we just want to help you out and share the things we found to be most effective. 

The booth we designed for less than $250 total. See below for more info.

Retractable Banner Stand

This is the middle stand that says “Museums Are F***ing Awesome.” 

  • The stand is 6.7 feet x 2.8 feet.
  • We purchased it from Vistaprint for $93.79 on sale (Retail $140, they often have sales so look for coupons!)
  • We recommend this banner stand because it rolls up, can easily be reused/preserved for future shows, and comes with a carrying case.
  • Pro Tip: If you’re not a Photoshop pro, call Vistaprint and ask them to verify your design proof will print well or if they see any flaws (you don’t want it to come out pixelated!)

Tall Foamboard Signs

These are the two signs you see on the left and right that say “This isn’t your grandma’s museum tour” and “The best f***ing team building on earth.”

  • These foamboards are 20 inches wide x 45 inches tall.
  • They were purchased from for $38.20 each 
  • Call your support rep before ordering and make sure they think it looks good before ordering (they’re very helpful with making adjustments if necessary).
  • You should be able to find some discount codes here, too.
  • Note: Foamboards look nice, but they aren’t the sturdiest material; you’ll need to be careful transporting them to/from the show.

Small Foamboard Sign

This is the small sign you see at the bottom center of the image with our logo.

  • This foamboard is 29 inches wide x 14.5 inches tall.
  • It was purchased from for $24.77.
  • Same notes apply as above: call your support rep to verify looks good, be careful with transport, etc.
A guest having fun and taking pictures at our booth during TechDay 2017. This Mona Lisa cutout was one of our most engaging “poppers”.

Industry Specific “Popper” 

So you obviously want your booth to look nice, but it’s also super important that people have a great time while they’re there. A “popper” is something that adds extra spice to your booth to win over the people who come visit. 

We lead renegade museum tours, so we decided to print out a famous painting (Mona Lisa) and cut out the head area, so people could stick their own faces into the Mona Lisa and take pictures. We printed this photo at Staples ($25) and mounted it to foam board ($8), and people had a blast taking pictures with it.

When you’re coming up with your ideas for poppers, think of things that are unconventional and will make people laugh. So many trade show booths are identical to one another. How can you give people an experience they won’t get from anyone else? How can you make them laugh, remember your company, and maybe even tell their friends about you?


You’ll want a tablecloth that covers your entire table and reaches the floor, so you can store stuff underneath the table without it appearing messy.

Here’s one we bought from Amazon for $14.

We also gave away Museum Hack pins, stickers, sunglasses and postcards advertising our public museum tours and team building events. Oh yeah, and carrots!

The Final Word

Successful trade show booths don’t have to be expensive. Our booth setup cost less than $250 and people really responded to it. We’re confident you can make a great booth for the same price, and we hope this post helped you at your trade show! 

Our guides Evan and Sean killing the game at TechDay 2017.

Are you looking for renegade public museum tours or amazing team building events? We’ve got you covered.

written with 💖 by Jesse Sussman

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