Strategies for Trade Show Giveaways and Promotional Products

Trade shows are great opportunities to market and promote a business. And one of the best, most time-tested methods of executing that promotion is with the trade show giveaway. AKA promotional gifts. AKA swag.

Yes, the entire notion is something of a cliché, but some clichés exist for a reason. And you may be surprised to realize, trade show giveaways are not so different from a marketing strategy you are likely already implementing. Trade show giveaways are basically in-person content marketing.

Think about it. Content marketing is all about offering people something of value for free in the hopes of creating brand awareness and attracting them to come back for more of your goods and services. Same goes for trade show giveaways. The promotional item is the “something of value,” and the hope is the same – raising brand awareness and creating leads who could turn into clients.

But what’s the best way to execute a promotional giveaway? Who do you give items to? What do you get back in return? What items should you give away?

Every business is going to have different products and strategies that work better or worse for them, but here are some general tips:

Be Relevant

So many companies fail to understand this first, crucial step in running a promotional giveaway at a tradeshow. The result usually looks something like putting a cup full of branded ball-point pens out at a booth and calling it a day. But what does that pen have to do with your company?

The path toward relevant swag is going to be super clear for some companies. For instance, a company with an environmental message giving out reusable water bottles – that makes sense. For others though, it’s going to be more difficult. With so many different kinds of products now available for use as promotional items though, putting in some thought and creativity will hopefully lead to a relevant solution. 

Be Useful

Whether you are able to come up with a promotional giveaway that feels relevant to your brand or not, you should definitely strive to hand out a product that your customers will find useful.

Part of the goal in giving away swag is to put your logo and branding in front of the recipient as often as possible and for as long of a time as possible. So, when thinking about what item to choose, think about items that might get used not just once or for a few days, but for months or even years.

For example, stress balls have long been a popular trade show giveaway item. They are kind of fun to squeeze and throw around… for about 30 seconds. Then they go in a desk drawer, or a suitcase, or the garbage. They probably are popular giveaways because they're cheap to make.

Something like breath mints or hand sanitizer offer more immediate usefulness, but that usefulness is limited by the fact that eventually they will run out and get tossed.

On the other hand, things like tote bags, branded flash drives, phone chargers and tablet styli, while more expensive, have the potential to be used for years.

Be Sticky

The worst thing you can possibly do with a promotional giveaway is hand your customers an item that they love, use all the time, and two weeks later have no idea who gave it to them or what your company does.

In order to be sticky, you need to have your branding clearly marked on the item, well positioned so that it won’t be on a piece that gets thrown away, and offer a clear reminder of what your company is every time the product is used. USB car chargers, for instance, are great giveaway items in that they are very useful and people will want them. But the logo usually gets printed on the part of the charger that goes into the cigarette lighter. So, once it is in use, no more exposure to your brand.

Be High Quality

A lot of these decisions will come down to budget. It goes without saying that the better the giveaway product is, the more desirable it is, and the more it will cost. You are going to have to make some hard choices in order to stay within your budget. But, it might be of greater long-term value for you to lean toward a quality product over a high-quantity. While that might mean not every single passer-by can have one of your high-quality giveaways, it also increases the chance of the promotional items you do give out actually doing their jobs.

The more high-quality your giveaway products are, the more likely someone is to remember you and appreciate it. On the flip-side, if your product is cheap and falls apart, not only does it stop doing the work of promoting your brand if it is in the garbage can, it is also a poor reflection on your company. Need help with your trade show giveaways or overall strategy? 10twelve can help you score some great swag that won't break the bank and will leave your brand in the forefront of your potential customer's minds. Contact us today to discuss!