Creating Trade Show Giveaways That Actually Work

success-giveaway-300x300Trade show giveaways have become an ever-present component of the event marketing landscape. In recent years they’ve also been a hot topic of conversation among marketing experts, some of whom question their value to the businesses that hand them out by the tote bag-full at every show. For marketers, free promotional items have always had a clear and simple goal — to put a branded item into the hands of attendees in the hopes that it reminds or informs them about a given company or product.

But the world of promotional items is no longer just a sea of pens, pencils and key chains. Modern marketing tools, including detailed studies and analytics involving how giveaways are viewed and used by attendees, have made choosing and implementing promo items serious business that trade show presenters can’t afford to take lightly.

Choosing strategic giveaways for your business involves a host of variables, but there are some key aspects of this important decision that many marketers may overlook. Keeping these factors in mind can make the difference between realizing a significant return on your investment and supplying your guests with an item that will get lost in their goodie bag, never to be thought of again.

Presenting The Right Message

The most important step to creating a successful promotional item is determining exactly what you want to say to your perspective clients and how you’ll say it. Sure, it’s important to include your business name and contact information, but there are plenty of other messages your handouts can deliver.

Think about the overall goals of your presence at a given event and ensure that you’re reinforcing them every step of the way. If you’re at an event to promote a particular product create a giveaway that ties into that effort.

If you’re trying to establish your company’s place in the industry, let your freebees tell your guests you were ranked number one amongst your peers, or were recently the recipient of an award. As important as it is for your overall presentation to stand out from the crowd, it’s equally important that your marketing giveaways establish what makes you special.

Building A Better Giveaway

Trade show giveaways have never been known for their quality. Because many businesses give them out without even asking for any information in return (which you should avoid doing by the way), the focus is most often exclusively on quantity rather than quality. But take a step back and consider this — would you rather have 1000 items to giveaway that are immediately discarded, broken or ignored, or 500 items that recipients will be more motivated to hold onto?

Providing higher quality giveaways doesn’t have to be more expensive, it simply involves taking the time to consider all of your options and working with a supplier that you trust. Always ask for samples of any product you’re considering using and choose the one that you yourself would be more likely to keep or use.

Considering All Your Options

If you’ve shopped for trade show promotional items recently you’ve likely felt a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. While there’s no silver bullet in terms of the perfect giveaway for every situation, it pays to keep an open mind and mix up your offerings. Think about all the factors that can contribute to your items being valued and used by attendees.

Factors like the location of the show, the time of year and the demographic of your audience can all play a key role in the success of a given promotion. Don’t be afraid to mix up your materials and tailor your handouts to the given show.

Present A Unified Brand

Consistency is key to a lasting impression and your promotional items should always tie-in to the overarching theme of your presentation, either in theme, colors or branding. Once again, consider the message that you’re hoping to convey and make sure to incorporate it into your choice of marketing freebees. Consider how your staff will interact with and present the items as well. Apparel items are a popular giveaway choice as booth attendants can wear them as well.

Put Your Items On Display

In the end many marketers use handouts and giveaways to draw attention and build a buzz, so it should go without saying that you want your audience to be able to see what you have to offer. When choosing your promotional items, think about how they might be displayed or used in your booth. The best items will be able to pull double duty as static advertisements as they wait to be distributed to guests.

When it comes down to it, only you will be able to determine the best trade show giveaways for your particular business. Don’t be afraid to test out all of your options and be sure to consistently update your selection to keep things fresh. With a bit of forethought and planning, these items that your guests receive for free can continue to work for you well after the show is over.

Guest Blog Post by Brian Burr:
Brian Burr is the Chief Operating Officer of Burr has been involved in every aspect of the embroidery business for more than 18 years. Before becoming the COO of, Burr was a Lead Machine Operator for six years, a Chief Mechanic for an embroidery manufacturer for three years, and the Production Manager for a custom embroidery factory for five years. He received his B.S from the University of Utah.


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