10 Ways to Master the Trade Show Giveaway Game

trade show
J-C&D. Pratt / Photononstop / Getty Images

Walk around any trade show and you will be able to collect a bag full of trade show giveaway items all designed to promote business. Everyone enjoys receiving a gift. Gift giving creates a favorable impression. It can build goodwill, be an incentive, communicate a message, and create awareness. However, how many promotional giveaways do an effective job? Before jumping into the trade show giveaway game consider the following ways to mastery:

Define Your Audience

Having a focused objective for your trade show giveaway will also help you decide who should receive it. Consider having different gifts for various visitors. You might have different quality gifts for your key customers, prospects, and general passers by.

Set Your Goal

What do you want to achieve by giving away a premium item? Trade show giveaway items should be designed to increase your recognition, communicate a message, motivate an action, or promote your small business. It's important not only that the message has an impact, but also the premium itself.

Find the Right Item 

There is a multitude of different items you could consider as a premium giveaway. However, which one will best suit your purpose? To select the right item, decide on your objective. Do you want it to enhance a theme, convey a specific message, or educate your target audience? Set a purpose to make your selection process easier.

A promotional specialist can also help you make an effective selection. Remember your company image is reflected in whatever you choose to give away.

Add Your Message

Is there an item that naturally complements your marketing message? Have the message imprinted on the item with your company name, logo, and phone number.

An important aspect of any gift is to remember who it was from long after the fact. Don't forget to give business cards when appropriate.

Set a Price

The price range for trade show giveaway items is enormous. Quality, quantity, and special orders, all impact the price. Establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan. Consider ordering the same item for several different shows. The greater the quantity of your order, the lower the individual unit price.

Establish Qualifiers 

What must visitors do to qualify for a giveaway item? There are several ways to use your trade show giveaway effectively:

  • as a reward for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation, or contest
  • as a token of your appreciation when visitors have given you qualifying information about their specific needs
  • as a thank you for stopping at the booth

Use the Pre-qualifying Secret 

Trade show giveaways can be used to pre-qualify your prospects. One company uses playing cards. Prior to the show, they send "kings" to their key customers, "queens" to suppliers, "jacks" to new or hot prospects. They request that the cards are brought to the booth in exchange for a special gift. When the cards are presented, the booth staff already know certain information about the visitor.

They can then act on their previous knowledge and use time with the visitor more productively.

Have a Sales Incentive: Will your trade show giveaway directly help future sales? Hand out a discount coupon or a gift certificate requiring future contact with your company for redemption. Consider premiums that will help generate frequent visits to customers and prospects, such as calling you for free refills.

Inform Your Target Audience: Novel trade show giveaways can actively help to draw prospects to your booth.

Make sure your prospects know about it. Send a tickler invitation with details of the giveaway, or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects prior to the show and telling them to collect the other half at your booth.

Have a Tracking Mechanism: Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your trade show giveaways. If it is a redemption item, code it so that you know it resulted from the show. Post-show follow-up could include a question about the premium - did visitors remember receiving it and how useful was the item.

After the trade show, critique your giveaways with your exhibit team:

  • Did it draw specific prospects to the booth?
  • Was it eye-catching enough to persuade passers by to stop?
  • Did your customers find it useful?
  • Did it project the right corporate image?
  • There are plenty of exciting trade show giveaways for you to choose from to avoid the usual pens, pencils, and key chains.

    Make your premium work for you by applying the 10 ways to master your trade show giveaways and experince show success...it will be money well invested.

    Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, author of "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training.