10 Ways to Master Trade Show Giveaways

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. Giveaways can build goodwill, be an incentive, communicate a message, or create awareness. Before jumping into the trade show giveaway game there are a few facets to consider.

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 action, or promote your small business. It's important that both the message and item have an impact.

Find the Right Item 

There is a multitude of different items you could consider as a product giveaway. To select the right item, decide on your objective. The item should be useful for the audience you are targeting.

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

You should try to give away items that naturally complement your marketing message. Incorporate the message on the item along 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.

Know the Costs of Your Giveaways

The costs for trade show giveaway items can be large. Quality, quantity, and special orders all impact the costs associated with a giveaway. You'll need to establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan.

Consider ordering the same item for several different shows. There are usually lower individual unit costs associated with greater order quantities. You'll want to have established criteria for the people to give items to so your investment is returned.

Establish Qualifiers 

You'll need to set criteria for giving away something. If you give a screwdriver to someone who doesn't use tools, you have wasted money. There are several ways to use your trade show giveaways effectively:

  • Develop some screening questions for people that stop at your booth. You might find they could use the items and could become customers.
  • As a token of your appreciation when visitors have given you information about their specific needs, that will help you develop a product they would use.
  • Target certain companies or people that work in industries you might cater to.
  • Know what other companies might be at the trade show. You might be able to offer the employees something to make their professional lives better.

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

Hand out a discount coupon or a gift certificate requiring future contact with your company for redemption. Consider items 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 product, 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-ups could include a question about the item—inquire if recipients remembered receiving it, and if it was useful.

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?

Do your best to stay away from pens, pencils, and key chains. Make your giveaway items work for you by applying these concepts. The money you spend upfront will be returned if you find the right audience to give your products to.