How to get your tradeshow giveaway in the suitcase home

By Jerry McLaughlin (Published August 9, 2010)

With tradeshow giveaways, the trinity of usability, price, and marketing message can be difficult to achieve. The marketing department wants it to stand out from the crowd, but doesn’t have a big budget for it. The events team is strapped with exhibit storage space and shipping costs as it is. What’s an organization to do?

There’s no debating the fact that giveaways remain an important component to your tradeshow marketing strategy. It’s not only extremely cost-effective in the long run, it is also one of the most impactful ways to get your brand or message out.

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A study released in February by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) surveyed more than 1,000 consumers who recalled receiving a promotional product in the past 24 months. The results are amazing, and should be required reading for any marketing or event teams who want to cite hard ROI numbers for their budgets.

According to the PPAI’s “Effectiveness of Promotional Products as an Advertising Medium” study,

  • 94% of respondents could recall the promotional product
  • 89% of respondents could recall the advertiser
  • 78% could recall the message

Additionally, there’s the fact that consumers actually like receiving gifts:

  • 83% of respondents like receiving a promotional product with an advertising message
  • 69% generally keep the promotional product if they have a use for it
  • 36% generally give the product to others if they have no use for it–ensuring additional exposure for the advertiser

So, how can you rise above the trade show floor noise and create a promotional item that your prospects will not only love at first sight but remember (and use) months after you met? Follow these simple rules and above all think “useful!”

* Give a Gift That Lasts: Even though everyone loves a handful of candy or a tin of mints, these items will be consumed long before your prospects have had time to remember your name. Instead, invest in something that people deem worth keeping. A perfect example of this are the popular aluminum water bottles that. Not only will prospects take these bottles with them everywhere, they will be reminded every time they see your logo that you invested in something of quality that can be used over and over again. Squeezable flashlights and safety kits are similar gifts that people love and keep using long after the show.

* Make a Statement: The promotional item you give speaks volumes to what kind of company you are. Companies that give those little flashlights are recognized as companies that care about safety. Vendors that hand out nonwoven totes are viewed as environmentally sound. Nonwoven totes are in fact a perfect giveaways for the trade show floor: not only are they great for lugging materials around at the show, but they are easy to pack and incredibly reusable. When you given a prospect a nonwoven bag, they are going to take it (and your brand) everywhere, from the beach to the market and back again.

* Keep the Kitchen and Office In Mind: The PPAI study cites that 92 percent of customers said they kept a product because it was useful, with the kitchen and office as two popular gift destinations. Now, there is nothing surprising in this news. People tend to want things that they can actually use. Consider the PPAI’s list of “Top Promotional Products With The Greatest Advertiser/ Message Recall Due To Usefulness Or Uniqueness”:

1. Pens
2. calendars
3. mugs
4. magnets
5. MP3 players
6. custom t-shirts/golf shirts
7. personalized tote bags/bags
8. Gift baskets of food

* Go Gender Neutral: This may sound obvious but it is easy to forget that your gift needs to play to all audiences. Even seemingly gender neutral gifts like T-shirts can be unsuccessful as men and women look for different types of fit. Fleece personalized blankets, Frisbees and cooler bags are all great gifts that everyone enjoys. Lip balm and hand sanitizer are also extremely popular to brave the perils of the trade show floor.

* Buy Desktop Real Estate: Not only do you want your promotional item to travel home with your prospect, but you want it to stay with them. And what better place for your brand to show up than on someone’s desk? One promotional item that companies tend to forget about today is the old, reliable calendar. People love to have calendars on their desks even in today’s digital age. And a calendar is about the most powerful branding platform you can ever use—just think, you can start it on whatever month you want, have separate brand messages on every single month, and you can have your logo on every single page. Other great items include sticky notes and calculators.

* Tier Your Treasures: Remember, not everyone has to receive the same gift. Have some small items, like that candy, for the casual stopper-by and have a supply of nicer items, like personalized luggage tags, for your more serious visitors.

* If You Go Big, It Won’t Go Home: In the trade show world, size matters. No one wants to lug something big and bulky around, unless it’s really worth their while to keep. Mugs are also difficult. And remember, when you ship big items, this is a hassle for your booth staff as well. Unless you have a large booth, you need to avoid bulky items like apparel.

One final thought: when you make your order, don’t just buy for a specific show. Remember that you want your item to last forever, not just for a season or a passing fad. For example, stay away from awareness bracelets. Unless your name is Lance Armstrong, people won’t be interested. You are better off buying a quality gift, like those calendars or water bottles, that people will keep and enjoy. This also lets you buy in bulk, saving you money and headaches when it is time for your next tradeshow.

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About the Author

Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of Branders.com, the world’s largest online promotional items company. Branders.com has put more logos on more items for more people than anyone else on the planet.

Source: The Giveaways Guru

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