Trade shows and trade show displays are the way that a lot of industries introduce their product to competition, prospective clients, and even to the world in general. The best thing that you can do at a trade show is use it to make sure that your product is going to be popular, well received, and, hopefully, to get sales, or to grow the potential for sales later on.
In general, the trade show booths that you’re going to encounter are going to be determined not only by who the show is marketed and directed to, but by what’s being sold. Let me give you a few examples.
If you’re showcasing firearms at your trade show, for example, you’re going to have a lot of very interactive booths at the trade show, where you can hold things and get a feel for the heft and functionality. The NRA helps to put on just one such show every year, known as the SHOT show, and it is open to everyone who can get a ticket (which is pretty much anyone within reason). If you go, you will see rows upon rows of trade show booths, with a huge amount of firearms everywhere. Now, in general, the firearms on the booths are secured in numerous ways, because although they’re giving you a chance to experience the heft of the firearm before it hits the market, they’re not letting you shoot it (unless you show up for range day and get to shoot the firearms). For starters, a lot of the firearms that they’re showing, especially the ones that haven’t been released to market yet, are tethered to the booth with some sort of metal cable, making sure that someone can’t grab one and run off with it (something I have seen someone try before, which was both hilarious and insane). Another very intelligent safety feature is that they remove various parts from the firearm (usually, they remove the firing pin or the entire bolt or bolt carrier, without which a firearm simply cannot function. I’m not going to give a lecture on the assembly of modern firearms, but they’re not capable of firing without the firing pin). These booths are designed to get attention and to showcase what you can experience and hold, which is why the firearms are so close to the outer edge of the table or booths, and because of that, it’s only sensible that you’d have a lot of security in place.
Now, if you go to, for example, a scientific expo, you’re going to find a much more subdued climate, and a much more sober tone. You’re not going to have a lot of loud talking, either, but low din of people chatting amiably about various things they’ve seen. The booths, also, won’t be designed the same, because they don’t have the same need. Nobody picks up a book to try it out; the people there to buy scientific texts already know what they’re trying to find, and they’re generally just looking for the most relevant text.
The other group that attend scientific expos are the people who are there looking for the new text books that they’ll be using to teach college kids for the next semester or so (until the new edition comes out, and then they upgrade). If you’re pandering to them, you probably ought to have a big sign that shows off that you offer textbooks (and teacher’s copies) for the following subjects, with a list of subjects your text(s) are suitable for. Your trade show exhibit needs to be properly attuned to the group that you’re trying to sell to.
Another important thing, especially at a smaller trade show, is that you have swag to give away. I don’t mean swag the (annoying) way that the kids are using it today, I mean swag as in free stuff to give away to people in exchange for a few seconds of their time and an eternity of them having a pen with your logo on it that they can’t remember where it came from. You also need to be sure that you’re doing your best to network; just because someone, say, a teacher, doesn’t need a book for a class they may be teaching in the future, it doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from you slipping your card into their hand and promising a deal on textbooks later on as well. That’s how a lot of business gets done, honestly.
Just be outgoing, show off your product as best you can, and be honest about what you’re offering, and everything will work out for you and your business at a trade show.