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10 Research Backed Strategies to Maximize Your Showroom Investment


We all know showrooms are expensive. So how do you maximize your investment? Here are ten research-backed strategies to ensure your showroom not only attracts but retains your target audience, effectively:


1. Hone In On Your Target Audience.

With over 94,000 designer specifiers in the U.S. market, it is nearly impossible to market to (and sell to) everyone in an appealing and meaningful way. Here’s the trick: DON’T: Try to be all things to all people.

DO: Take cues from digital and retail marketing gurus who do this well by identifying personas. Get laser-focused on who you’re selling to, what their preferences are, how they define ease of doing business, and what appeals most to them when it comes to brand loyalty. Do audits with visitors during and after the show to ensure your showroom appealed to these specifiers successfully.

Identify your identity


2. Make a Memorable First Impression.

According to research from the Center for Sales Strategy, you’ve got 7 seconds to make your first impression when someone engages with your brand, either in person or digitally. This becomes incredibly important at a crowded tradeshow when would-be clients are making the decision to enter your showroom or keep walking. Sure, this has to do with the physical environment from the lighting to music to the entryway of the space, but it also has to do with the humans they interact with.

DO: Time yourself as you walk in and come up with 7 seconds’ worth of ways to crush it, immediately. (Spoiler alert, one of the main “fears upon entry” is getting “stuck” too long. Consider a rep-free path guided by wayfinding with a 5-minute and 15-minute option.) It can be hard to get a realistic picture of how your showroom’s curb appeal and overall tour experience is resonating with specifiers, consider curating a group of trusted clients who will provide honest and constructive feedback to ensure you’re meeting their needs year over year.

Crush your first impression


3. Create a Human Experience, Not Just a Product Showcase.

In an era of digital overload, it makes sense that people crave more experiences over product alone; millennials and gen z most of all. Those taking their time to attend trade shows and events want something worth sharing with their colleagues and friends, and something that helps them connect with a brand on a personal level. The good news is, there’s loads of inspiration for showrooms in other outside-the industry experiences.

DO: Consider pop up shops where they not only showcase their products, but also offer photo-ops such as The Musuem of Ice Cream in Chicago. Other companies are using AI to create jaw dropping moments worth sharing. Like this Maybelline AI-ed advertisement of giant eye lashes on a train being “brushed” with a large tube of mascara as it rushed through a subway in London and on the streets of NYC. The crazy part, the real installation didn’t exist but the traction these videos garnered was viral. This creates moments that are not only memorable and experiential, but most importantly sharable. Experiences don’t need to be expensive, but they do need a well thought out and align with your overall brand and theme. Before investing ask what type of sharable moments and experiences your clients want more.

74% of Americans prioritize experiences over products, Millennials most of all.


4. Facilitate Easy Sharing.

Modern consumers want to be advocates for brands and experiences they love. So why stop them or slow them down? We hear as a “best practice” from our ThinkLab Trendspotters each year that attendees frequently take a photo of the front of a showroom so they won’t forget where they were when looking back at their photo roll to digest and share their insights with peers. Anyone remember Mapquest? (For the Gen Z-ers reading, this was back when we used to print directions and read them off of a paper!) And while many of you may think, “We’d never use Mapquest today!” That’s equivalent to what many brands are doing to their superfans when they don’t allow a sharable version that helps them remember what they saw, identify products in a unique setting, and pass it along to a peer.

DO: Make your products easily sharable, like this example from Hightower, and focus on product lighting to allow for Instagram worthy photos!


5. Call in Secret Shoppers.

Have you ever wished you could hear real, direct, unfiltered feedback from your tradeshow constituents about what they liked about you AND your competitors (Well, disliked, of course.)? We know. This is why ThinkLab created the Secret Shopper program (yes, it’s exactly what you think…) made up of hand-selected professional product selectors who attend various tradeshows throughout the year to share their unfiltered feedback. They’ll be anonymously documenting their first impressions of your showroom, how product was showcased, favorite features, and the overall tour experience; in context of the show and your competitors. You’ll get a recap after the show with how to capitalize your showroom space year over year. Consider this your best friend for targeting your audience, making a memorable lasting impression, and creating a sharable experience.

Call in trade show secret shoppers


These five strategies are a great start, but we’ve got more to set you up for success!
Download our complimentary 10 research-backed ways to maximize your showroom experience now.


Download 10 ways to maximize your showroom experience!


Amanda Schneider is the Founder & President at ThinkLab, the research division of SANDOW DESIGN GROUP. At ThinkLab, we combine SANDOW Media’s incredible reach to the architecture and design community through brands like Interior Design Media and Metropolis and Design Milk with proven market research techniques to uncover relevant trends and opportunities for the built environment and our world. Join in to explore what’s next at


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