There's so much noise and commotion at trade shows that if your product is unknown or very technical, it can seem impossiblefor your company to stand out.

That should have been a problem for Baird, a $30-million manufacturer of instruments that perform chemical analyses onmetals? not exactly sexy stuff. But David March, director of sales and marketing at the Bedford, Mass., company, figured all heneeded was a little creativity? and not even very much cash? to make an eye-catching display.

Before attending a show to introduce Baird and a new technology to a new market, March and his team searched customer filesand found clients who had used the company's equipment to test cosmetics, jewelry, and children's toys. The company thenordered huge props for the show: giant toothpaste tubes, jumbo watches, and enormous crayons. "People would walkdown the aisle, see these huge crayons, and come in to ask, 'What do you people do?" reports March. He estimates that for acost of $325 for prop rental, his booth's traffic was up 400%.