You need a gift that is unique and useful. Why is uniqueness important? Let's say your trade show has 250 booths. Of that number, it's practically guaranteed that at least half of them, or 125 of your competitors, will be handing out pens with their company logos. Pens are great, but if you are but one of those 125, your pen will get lost amongst 124 others. Choosing a promotional gift that is unique gives you the assurance that potential customers won't lose your gift immediately after receiving it.
Usefulness is equally important. Customers love free gifts, especially gifts that they can actually use. A printed business card contains valuable information about your services, but it may not even make it all the way home with a potential client, much less get used. A promotional coffee travel mug on the other hand will probably go into a cupboard to later be filled up with coffee. Every time that person takes a sip, he or she will see your company's logo. The likelier it is that an item will be used, the better your chances of imprinting the name of your business on the minds of your potential customers and clients. You may want to keep a number of different types of promotional giveaways on hand for distribution. This way, you can target the interests of a particular customer. For instance, having a cache of promotional water bottles will come in handy when you run across customers who participate in sports. Logo-embossed golf balls make a great hand-out to clients and potential customers who regularly play the greens. Climbing-grade carabiners make handy advertising tools with rock climbers. Computer users would find a promotional mouse pad or customized flash drive indispensable. There are literally thousands of different types of items which can be printed with the logo of your business. The next time you participate in a trade show, consider bringing a variety of promotional gifts along. It only takes a few minutes of conversation with clients and customers to determine what their interests are.
Remember, your goal is to place something into your customer's hands that will actually make it all the way home with them, get noticed, and get used. Just imagine the potential you will have when it comes to recognition.