Trade Show Giveaways: What To Know Before You Buy

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Even in a slowing economy, trade shows give business owners one of the only opportunities they have of building relationships by direct, face-to-face contact. If you’re new to the trade show world, don’t sign on for anything until you’ve taken the time to preview some helpful suggestions for getting the most out of your experience.
Never forget that trade shows are busy, bustling places packed with lots to see. Time constraints are also an issue. You need to give visitors a reason to seek you out.
Your success has a good deal to do with having a trade show display that catches the eye of your target audience and invites them to stop and find out more about you. This is the most important part of your trade show presentation. Take the time to create a booth that’s going to draw potential customers and contact in and engage them once they arrive.
The exhibit should leave visitors with a strong impression of what makes your business unique. Make this space welcoming, with a focal point and a strong, simple key message. Go for graphics over type and encourage visitors to use as many of the five senses as possible while in your booth.
Another staple of trade shows are the giveaways… walk around any show and you’ll end up with a bag full of pens, key chains and the like… all intended to promote a product or business. While you might question how necessary these little goodies are, savvy marketers know that people love getting things… and these gifts create a favorable inclination toward the gift giver.
In fact, PPAI (the Promotional Products Association International has some interesting research showing just how invaluable these little giveaways are to show attendees.
The part promotional giveaways play in any event or trade show is to make your product or company more memorable… conveying your marketing message in a visually appealing way. Your giveaway’s job is to deliver the same message, repeatedly to the intended audience. Reusable items do this best… anything you can put in your prospects homes, offices, briefcases — everyday essentials are what you’re after.
Susan Friedmann, The Tradeshow Coach suggests these steps on how to find just the right promotional giveaway for your next trade show…

  • know your audience — who is likely to be interested in you… retailers? wholesalers? other industry contacts? Knowing this helps you choose a more appealing item for the audience.
  • set a goal — increase your business name recognition, communicate a message, motivate a purchase, you need to know what you want to accomplish at the show.
  • set a budget — if you only have a dollar to spend, get the BEST item you can for that money, not a cheaper version of a higher priced one. The quality of the item, the quantity you order, any special ordering will all do something to the cost.
  • find the right item — there are lots of great things to choose (meeting totes, notepads, calculators… even stress relievers), but you want something that ties into your overall purpose… either enhances a theme, sends a specific message or educates your target audience.

Any item you give away at a trade show or event should have your logo, contact information and your marketing message imprinted on the surface. The look here is important… as it conveys vital, unspoken messages about quality. Shop carefully, insist on the best quality you can afford and make use of the services of a promotional products designer to help you get the look just right.
And resist the temptation to give your items to anyone. You won’t get your company or product remembered this way… chances are most of these folks aren’t interested in your product in the first place. A wiser strategy is to reserve the giveaways for those who show an interest and give you the chance to talk to them about what you have to offer.
Customers also need to feel like their business is appreciated. Promotional items are a tangible way of saying “thank you” and saying it over again the next time the gift is used. You don’t have to spend a lot to get the effect, but you do have to make the item something of value… something nice. Having two different levels of giveaway is often a smart strategy.

Once the trade show or event wraps up don’t expect to put aside your marketing efforts until next time. Turns out the companies who get the most from trade shows are the ones that market all the time to the contacts they met at the show. You might call or send a postcard, mail a letter or catalog, but whatever you do, keep working on the lead.
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