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You Get Back What You Give: A Trade Show Giveaway Primer

Everyone who has ever been to a trade show has an opinion about promotional giveaways – and those opinions are all over the place.

“Giveaways are a dime a dozen and don’t last long.”
“A booth without giveaways is sacrilege.”

“Giveaways may bring someone by your booth, but they don’t generate leads.”
“Giveaways are an essential investment in future relationships.”

“Do you really want to waste your budget on something that’s going to be thrown away?”
“I see professionals lined up 40 deep for a special giveaway.”

The one area where most people do agree is that giveaways must be thoughtful – and useful – in order to be effective.

Here are a few tips to consider when selecting your next trade show giveaway.

Set Your Show Objectives Before Selecting Your Giveaways

You want your promotional items to be on message and meaningful to your display. How can you do that if you are unsure of the message? Too many companies make the mistake of ordering branded pens or water bottles without putting any thought into the giveaway. Give some thought to how the giveaway can tie into your marketing campaign.

Know Who You Are Trying To Reach

If your goal is to touch as many people as possible, select a low-cost (but still special) item. That way you can generate buzz while having plenty of promos to pass around. However, if your goal is to make contact only with the C-suite, then invest in fewer but more expensive items.

Think How What You Give Reflects On Your Business

If you pass out cheap junk that doesn’t work, it reflects poorly on your business. Even though potential customers know that your company didn’t manufacture that pen– first it wouldn’t write and then it leaked in their swag bag. Fair or not: that annoyance is going to be passed to you and your company.

Generate Buzz, Just the Right Buzz

Know your audience. If you want to be edgy by handing out shirts printed with a sassy double entendre, that’s great – as long as it’s given to the right crowd. If you’re getting a lot of eye-rolls as people pass your booth, you’ve read the room wrong. The last thing you want to see is the cleaning crew pass by with garbage cans filled with your expensive shirts

Set Up a Giveaway System

The whole reason – the entire reason – you have giveaways at your booth is to make contact with prospects. Why, then, would you just pile the giveaways on the corner of a table for any knucklehead to grab as they pass by? This goes against the entire point of the giveaway. Establish a system for giving away your items, or, at the very least, make sure that someone has to engage with your booth staff before walking away with an item.

Make Sure You Can Give Away That Giveaway

There are items that some exhibit halls forbid to be handed out during shows. These are typically things that are hard to clean up, such as stickers or gum, or that will cause a mess during the show, like popcorn. There are even shows where it is forbidden to hand out giveaways unless they are part of a show sponsorship. Always check your exhibitor service guide, or you’re risking a fine for violating the rules.

We hope this has helped guide your giveaway selection. For more hints and suggestions, give The Trade Group a call at 800-343-2005 and discover how we can help align your giveaways with your goals.

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You Get Back What You Give: A Trade Show Giveaway Primer


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