In the course of writing this blog I’ve mentioned more than once that one key to being successful is to make sure the theme of the trade show is a good fit for your product. While I still believe this, a recent article in of all places Entertainment Weekly has me changing my tune at least slightly. The article is all about this year’s Comic Con show in San Diego July 22-25. Any pop culture fanatic will tell you that Comic Con isn’t your average comic-book convention, it’s the most anticipated event of the entire year. With over 125,000 people showing up for the three day event, this year’s organizers have put together a list of exhibits that goes beyond the realm of comic-books. In fact this year’s show will feature over 40 booths that are not to tied to comics at all such as televisions shows like Glee, Castle, and Hawaii-Five-O.
With all of these seemingly unrelated vendors showing up, I have to ask “When registering for a spot at a trade show, is being different always bad?” If you ask me the answer isn’t a clear yes or no, but like most things somewhere in the middle. If you are in the business of selling wrenches then a rug show is not the place to popup a tent for the weekend. However if it’s a car show where mechanics and automobile lovers alike will be visiting in hordes, then chances are you might do well. In other words there’s nothing wrong with being different as long as there’s a common thread to connect you with the other vendors attending the show. An island exhibit featuring a new high-tech wrench at a car show works because car lovers love to work on their cars, but the same display has no place at a rug show because the demographic is different. Likewise Comic Con is all about the most talked about television shows, movies, books, as well as comics so regardless if the vendor features a new cop show, sitcom, or drama the buzz is what connects them.
Being different is a classic double edge sword. Standing out can be a good thing if what you are offering has a base connection to the overall theme of the trade show. By the same token though being too different will only leave you high and dry as those attending the event keep their focus on what attracted them to the show to start with.