Trade Show Giveaways: 5 Ways to Check If You’re a Grinch Or a Giver

Do trade show giveaways, and holiday gift-giving have something in common?

The calendar tells us it’s time yet again to feel pressured into playing the gift-giving game. The question is whether you believe you want to, or you have to take part?

Gift giving has long been a favorite subject on human behavior for psychologists, anthropologists, economists and marketers.  They’ve established that giving gifts is a surprisingly multifaceted, and significant part of human interaction, helping to define relationships, and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the receiver, who gets the biggest psychological benefit from a gift.

At every trade show you participate in, you’ll find the show floor littered with giveaways, tchotchkes, or swag, which according to the dictionary, are usually decorative, worthless and disposable knick-knacks with little or no purpose, or if they are useful, chances are they’ll break easily.

So what do holiday gift-giving and tchotchke-giving have in common, and if you choose to participate, does it come from your heart, or out of a sense of obligation?

Let’s look at five ways to tell whether you’re a grinch or a giver:

1. You’re a giver if: You spend time deciding on the right gift for the recipient. You picture the person using and enjoying it.

You’re a grinch if: You don’t question why you’re giving the gift, but rather you do it because you feel you have do, and then you find something that’s cheap, and useless just to get the job done.

2. You’re a giver if: You give the gift as a token of your appreciation to show that you care.

You’re a grinch if: You leave stuff lying out in your booth so people can help just themselves.

3. You’re a giver if: You feel good about giving the gift. The act gives you enormous pleasure and satisfaction.

You’re a grinch if: You hand your swag out to passers by just so that you can get rid of it, and not have to ship it back to your office.

4. You’re a giver if: You view your gift as a way to partner, show interest or strengthen a bond with the recipient.

You’re a grinch if: You really don’t care about your tchotchke, and don’t realize that it can help promote your company.

5. You’re a giver if: You give from the heart, with no feeling, or pressure of reciprocity.

You’re a grinch if: You give with a sense of self-serving, to get something back from the receiver, such as a contact, referral, or best of all, their business.

Whatever the reason you give a gift, be it for the holidays, a birthday, or to reward behavior, remember that when you give sincerely from the heart, you’ll get far more pleasure, than a sense of obligation.

And, for your next trade show, think about the giveaway you want others to receive. Make it useful, educational, or business related, and one that you’re proud to give. In fact, use yourself as a litmus test. Ask yourself if this item is something you’d like to receive if someone were to give it to you.

Happy holidays and happy gift giving!


Confuse or Lose: 3 Keys to Avoid Trade Show Confusion

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In a recent coaching session, my client started telling me all about the different products he was going to be showing at the trade show he was preparing for. I listened patiently and then asked “which is the most important one?” “They all are” was my client’s response.

Over the years I’ve seen this mistake played over and over again at various shows.  Booths stuffed full of stuff, different stations and activities that makes it look like a three-ring circus. Presented with this jumble, the visitor may or may not try to figure out whether the exhibitor has something of interest to offer.

According to psychological research, when the brain is presented with too much information to absorb, it easily becomes confused. And at a trade show, a befuddled mind often takes the easy way out, and together with the body, moves on to the next booth.

The message I get from these types of exhibitors is three-fold – ill-prepared, lazy, and selfish. They are ill-prepared and lazy because they haven’t taken the time to focus on one specific product or message for their target audience, and selfish because it’s all about them and not about their prospects and customers.

To avoid buyer confusion at your next show, here are three important keys:

1.    Take time to plan and crystallize your exhibiting goals and objectives.  The purpose of your booth is to attract the right buyers so that you can have a meaningful conversation about their needs and wants.

2.    Have one clear message and focus for your booth.  Remember that according to trade show research, over 76% of visitors go to shows to see “what’s new.”  With this in mind, present something new, exciting and different.

3.    Keep your booth open and welcoming.
a.    Get rid of chairs to avoid the sitting temptation.
b.    Keep tables at the sides or at the back of the booth (tables at the front act as a barrier).
c.    Make sure your booth isn’t overflowing with your own staff who stand around chitchatting with each other when the show is slow.

Finally, as you prepare for your next show, remember to keep focused on what’s most important to your target audience – not you!

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies”and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.

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Exhibiting Magic: 13 Awesome Quick Trade Show Fixes – Part 2

In the wonderful world of exhibiting, and as the trade show season starts up again don’t you yearn for that magic wand to give a quick magical fix to your tradeshow trials and tribulations.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have attendees motivated to flock to our booths because they wanted to and not because they had to?

The question is, “what magic can you perform on the trade show floor, to help captivate and charm your prospects’ with your products/services?”  The following seven tips are a continuation of last week’s article. I hope they will give you some more irresistible ideas to get those creative juices flowing:

7.    Expect the unexpected
Many of history’s greatest discoverers and inventors happened across their major discovery quite unexpectedly.  Often, they were looking for something else.  Remember Christopher Columbus set out looking for India, and lo and behold, look what he found!  What are the two most unexpected things that might mysteriously happen during your next exhibiting experience?

8.   Put magic into your thinking
When you ask yourself “what if” questions you stretch your thinking and plant the seeds for creative new ideas.  What if ghosts and goblins were to roam the show floor?  What if exhibit booths could fly around the show hall positioning themselves right in front of your major prospects?  What if people wearing special glasses were the only attendees able to see your exhibit display?  What if you tried this exercise?

9.    Slay a dragon
Dragons elicit fears, and fears often stand in the way of you doing new and creative things.  So many exhibitors fear uncharted territory.  You fear the unknown and you fear failure.  Take time to look at those fiendish creatures that hold you back from being and doing all you can before, during and after the show.  What dragons can you slay?

10.   Learn from others
There are countless people and situations you can learn from.  The key is being open and receptive, and in essence, being prepared to be a lifelong learner.  Look to the past and learn from historical figures, borrow ideas from innovators, learn from others’ mistakes, use ideas from the patterns and cycles in nature.  Where can you look for some magical theory?

11.    Transport people to another place
J.K. Rowling performed incredible magic transporting people around the world to the enchanted magical world of wizards, spells and mythical beasts in her Harry Potter series.  In fact there is a wealth of folklore, mythology and history that shimmers beneath the surface of her stories.
How can the magic you dream up transport your exhibiting program to another level?

12.    Go where others fear to tread
When you exercise the courage to do something different, you take a risk.  You have a risk muscle that you keep in shape through regular exercise.  It takes courage, a pioneering spirit and a sense of adventure to overcome the scary stuff and seek out unknown opportunities.  How can you exercise your risk muscle?

13.    Believe in your success
Thomas Edison once said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”  Believe that the creative ideas you conjure up will bring you untold successes.

Now all you need do is wave your magic wand to put them into action.  Which ideas will you start with?

The moral of the article is to never get caught without your wand, as you never know when you might need it!

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.