Free trade show giveaways are a well-established tradition in the trade show world, however many exhibitors are misusing these little gizmos and gadgets. The golden rule is that the only thing that is free is “free”; attendees should understand that while you have some promotional goodies, they will have to work to get what they want! Your trade show display staff should be trained to understand how promotional gifts work and the successful strategies which will optimize your business objectives.
First, what are your business objectives for the specific trade show? Is it number of prospective leads generated? Number of sales presentations given on the day? Customer survey questionnaires completed? Booth traffic numbers? Whatever it is, identify the specific goals for the trade show and tailor your promotional gift giving around those strategies. For instance, if your goal is a qualified business prospect for after-show follow-up, you can reinforce your brand’s identity in the mind of the prospect with a good quality gift, but use a lesser quality gift if they are not a prospect for follow-up.
By all means display your “good” gifts, but do not simply let attendees help themselves. If an attendee asks how they get their hands on something, tell them what you are looking for from them. If your objective is a customer questionnaire, then simply have a gift ready and while keeping hold of it, tell them you have a few questions you want to ask and start completing the questionnaire. The key point is that attendees should not simply walk onto your booth and take whatever they want – this is your stuff and you want something for it.
Finally, good promotional gifts serve a very real purpose beyond the trade show itself. They should provide a constant reminder of you and your company so ideally they will be items of long-term utility (a mug, a mouse mat, a house hold tool) and they should have everything on them to allow the user to contact you (telephone number, email address) and most of all, they should be good quality – there is nothing worse than giving away something which breaks after a couple of uses and this reflects badly on your company image.