UPDATED: 20TH JULY 2018
Trade shows are great for making new connections, learning new skills, building brand awareness, but most of all, it’s a great chance to come back home to your family with a bag full of swag, giveaways, promotional items and assorted tat.
We’ve all done it, so don’t feel bad.
In fact, if you’re going to be exhibiting at a trade show, the eagerness of the attendees to grab a promotional freebie can work in your favour.
Create a fabulous trade show giveaway that will get people talking and you’ll have visitors flocking to your stand.
There are so many options to choose from though. Years ago, you had a choice between a sticker, badge, T-shirt and sweets. Nowadays, printers can slap your logo or company name onto pretty much anything – it’s no longer a simple choice.
The promotional items you choose have to complement your brand’s image and the message you want people to remember about you, so be fairly picky.
Having someone do a wood carving at your stand may look fabulous, but is likely to muddy your “environmentally friendly” message.
Without knowing you or your company, there are no hard and fast rules about what would make the perfect trade show promotional item, so instead, I thought I’d compile a big, long list of some traditional (and not so traditional) ideas to spark your creative juices.
Well, 12 anyway…
1. Branded Clothing
Rather than compile a list of individual clothing items one by one, I thought I’d group them all together. Clothing, be it T-shirts, hoodies, or custom embroidered jockstraps (I’m pretty sure that’s a terrible idea), are a natural choice for trade show giveaways.
Everyone knows what they are and even if they only wear it for doing the painting and decorating around the house, they’re still wearing it and seeing your brand every time they put it on.
Production-wise, it’s a doddle too. As I mentioned above, printers have been printing on T-Shirts and clothing for years, so it’s a cheap and easy item to produce.
If you are going to use clothing, think about when and where the trade show will be. If it’s outside during winter, a hoodie may be a good choice. If it’s a golfing show, you might want to choose something like a horrifically coloured pair of trousers instead.
Bags are a fabulous promotional item, as not only will people actually use them to contain other exhibitors swag, but they’ll be walking around the trade show all day – publicly displaying your logo to everybody.
It’s like hiring a sandwich board!
3. Chocolate and/or Sweets
Not all giveaways have to have a link to your product/service/benefits. Like I mentioned in my previous post on how to increase footfall at your stand, think about the attendees of your event; what would they really like to have and experience? Have they been on their feet all day and had a boring lunch? Would something to satisfy their sweet tooth put a big smile on their faces?
Being the trade show stand that helps people feel great by giving them tasty treats can be a good thing.
Probably not at a dentist convention though.
4. Travel Alarm Clock
Moving away from food and clothing, but still on the idea of being helpful, why not give them something that they can use during their time away from home? A travel alarm is a great choice. Someone who attends one trade show is bound to be attending another one shortly, so a personalised alarm clock is something they are going to keep with them.
If you can get one of those fancy ones that comes with added functions, such as weather forecast, 874 different time zones, Pot Noodle making facilities and a Hologram projection of Coleen Nolan, so much the better!
5. iPhone Holder or Stand
With every new generation of smartphone increasing in size, it’s become harder to find a place to put the damned thing down, so that you can easily use it.
Why not give away iPhone stands, which attendees can use to rest their phone on while watching videos, or maybe a holder that will easily clip into the car while driving to the trade show, so they can make conference calls and catch up on their favourite podcasts?
Perfect for the trade show visitor who has picked up 5,578 different pens from every stand, but realises that he’s forgotten his notepad to make notes about the people he’s met at the show and the lessons he’s learned in the breakaway sessions.
Don’t be the stand offering yet another pen, unless it’s THIS one…
Instead, give them a journal that, because of all of the amazing contacts and ideas they’ll write in it, they’ll keep for a long time and treasure forever…
…until they leave it in the back seat of a cab after a drunken celebration.
7. Phone Power Banks
Because we all look at our phones so much, and because the battery life seems to be getting shorter, most trade show visitors phones batteries will be down to amber before they’ve even set foot in the door of the trade show.
Make their life easier by giving away free phone power banks, allowing them to fully charge their phone without the need for electricity, so that their phone will now last until about 10:30.
Probably best to give them two.
8. Phone Speakers
If attendees are are going to be using their phones a lot at the trade show, especially for conference calls, it could be a good idea to put your logo on some phone speakers, so that they can use them to plug into their phones for better sound quality.
Even if they just use it to listen to music back in their hotel room, it’s something they’ll take with them and will make their life easier.
Unless they listen to Phil Collins.
Nothing makes that sound better.
Actually, speaking of which…
9. Branded Earphones
If they are in the mood to listen to something potentially embarrassing, maybe branded earphones would be a better alternative. Perfect for the kind of person that doesn’t want an entire train carriage to hear about their Aunt Margaret’s piles on the way home from the exhibition.
10. Protective Smartphone Case
While we’re on the subject of smartphones, why not produce some of those amazingly protective cases for various models and use those as promotional items?
You could have a lot of fun on the stand, as attendees try to smash their phones or drop them on the floor, testing the capabilities of your cover.
Note: CHECK THAT THE COVER ACTUALLY WORKS BEFORE TRASHING SOMEONE ELSE’S PHONE.
11. Personal Hygiene
If you feel you can give some personal hygiene products away without making attendees self-conscious that they stink to high heaven, these can be a great idea.
Wash bags, hand sanitisers (perfect for the OCD trade show attendee when being forced to shake many hands), cleaners, cleansers, shaving kits, bath bombs, toothbrushes that do funky things; there’s a whole boatload of personal hygiene products available that you can slap your name on so that people will think of you when they’re spitting in their sink.
12. Branded Keychain
Everyone has keys, so a keychain seems like a great choice. If you make it too gimmicky or weird though, it will be too embarrassing to put it with your keys.
If you can come up with a useful idea – something that they’re eager to attach to their keys, you can be certain it’s staying there for life (because you can never get the damned things off again!).
People may change their partners, houses or careers, but they never change their key rings.
Trade show freebies are a fabulous idea, but, like most things in life, they have to be done right. Think about you, your company, your message and your ideal customer when choosing your giveaway and you won’t go far wrong!
If you have any questions about this or any of my other posts, feel free to send me an email. It’s always great to receive feedback.
Success at a trade show depends, not only on the quality of your branded promotional items but on you being able to both draw in a crowd and qualify those leads. There are some standard ways of doing this and some not-so-standard…
…a trade show magician is a great way of attracting trade show visitors to your stand. Not only that, unlike a weird promotional item, a trade show magician can actually SPEAK – they can present your key messages and ideas through the amazing magic we perform – it’s the ultimate “soft sell” – stand visitors are entertained AND informed…AT THE SAME TIME!
*** OH GOD! I THINK THERE MIGHT BE A SALES MESSAGE COMING….***
I’m a trade show magician who can get your message out there, maximising your trade show attendance.
“Thanks for bringing to life what we do right in front of people’s eyes! You really struck the perfect balance on the stand and made the show a big success for us.” – Hydro 66
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