The Win-Win of Tradeshow Giveaways and Promotions
Tradeshow Giveaways That Also Give Back
Trade Show Giveaway Ideas
Everyone enjoys getting something for nothing. Yet people are always skeptical that if something seems too good to be true then it probably is. They are waiting for a hidden "catch".
Knowing that, at your next trade show event, go out of your way to create the trust that your potential clients are looking for. Whole-heartedly offer them something free. In exchange, what you are offering them is the opportunity to get to know your company and to choose to do business with you if your company provides the product(s) or service(s) that they are looking for. No arm twisting needed. Nothing to feel guilty about. Work on building a relationship, not just on making a sale, and you'll sleep good at night.
At the same time, there is nothing wrong with expecting your tradeshow experience to be the worthwhile investment that it is meant to be. Plan to get a fair return on your investment in the trade show event's booth fees. After all, isn't getting that attendee-to-client conversion the main goal of the event anyway?
Keep in mind that the likelihood of you achieving measurable results from your tradeshow booth is directly related to the quality of decisions you make regarding the resources available to you, which include: your booth setup; your strategy for manning your tradeshow booth; properly displaying your company identity design (e.g., logo, print, and media materials); and selecting appropriate tradeshow giveaways and promotions.
The serious trade show attendee will appreciate your attendance at the event. They will want to see what your booth has to offer and they'll want the opportunity to ask questions; that is what they came for. Your goal is to have them remember your company, your product or service, and to give them a way to contact you (e.g., business card, print material, or your website address/ phone number on an imprinted promotional item); that is what you came for. Together that creates the win-win.
Accurately Estimate Amount of Tradeshow Giveaways to Order
When you research which tradeshow event to attend, always get estimates from the event sponsor on the expected attendance rates based on previous years. If they don't provide it, ask for it so that you can estimate how many promotional items to order. Additional clues might be found by checking with nearby hotels on how sold-out their rooms are.
I recommend: Do your research on trade shows events and venues through sites like: TradeShowWeek.com .
Choose a Practical Promotional Item, Taking Size and Cost Into Account.
Remember that it is important to select a promotional item that is useful, attractive, and doesn't take up too much space for visiting out-of-towners, yet is still large enough to properly display your company's logo and/or message.
I recommend: Consider choosing something like promotional tote bags as your primary giveaway. A high-quality alternative, that is also practical and doesn't take up much space, is personalized keychains. Take into account the cost and quantity of items needed, but don't let cost alone influence your decision; don't sacrifice quality or your company's image just to save a few dollars.
***Note that according to the PPA.org: "As a rule, promotional products of greater value generate more sales leads than products of lower value."
Have a Back-Up Supply of Promotional Items In Case You Run Out.
Always have a back-up supply of promotional items in case you run out of your main supply. Even if it is a smaller item, it's better to have something than nothing.
I recommend: Having a supply of trade show bags on hand not only provides you with an additional piece of identifying promotional material (and a walking billboard), but it can also serve as a back-up in case you run out of giveaways by the end of the event.
Order all your promotional supplies from the same vendor.
Consider ordering all of your trade show supplies from the same vendor. This may help you reach order minimums and reduce shipping costs. Have your promotional products shipped directly to the event venue, a nearby company office, or the hotel you will be staying at.
I recommend: Review your promotional product vendor's shipping and order minimum policies and look for quantity discounts. Often there is value in ordering several trade show promotions from the same vendor in one combined order in order to qualify for the benefits of larger order sizes.
Have Adequate Print Material On Hand, Too.
At a tradeshow you want to have at least as much print material (e.g., brochures, flyers, business cards, etc.) on hand as you do tradeshow giveaways and promotional items.
I recommend: Review your company identity design to see if the logo, business card, letterhead, banners, etc. are consistent, coordinated, and reflective of the company image you want to present to others. The image and quality of your promotional item should also be consistent with your company identity design.
Plan Your Trade Booth Manning Strategy.
Before hand, plan out how your booth will be set up. Decide if your booth personnel will consist of salesmen, subject matter experts, or both. Plan where they will stand. Are they blocking access to information on the table? Are they handing out the giveaways and engaging potential clients in conversation?
I recommend: Make sure that those manning your booth and representing your company are easily identifiable as such; have them wear clothing of similar style, or provide them with a "uniform" shirt with logo, and have them wear preprinted quality trade show badge holders. Even if the trade-show-sponsors already provide all attendees with badge holders, feel free to offer a good quality one that attendees can later re-use when travelling or on vacations, such as cruises (i.e., another walking billboard).
Don't judge a book by its cover.
When evaluating potential clients that visit your trade show booth, be careful to not judge the book by it's cover. There will be times when you can't accurately assess, by appearance or attitude alone, if the person you are dealing with is a key decision-maker or decision-influencer or not. Some people aren't always easy to read. Word-of-mouth, both positive or negative, makes everyone a potential decision influencer.
-- Here is a link to a story about mistakenlyjudging people by their appearance.
-- It might take a little effort to reach the real decision-makers for big-budget products or services, but often referrals from trade show attendees combined with online research is extremely useful and worthwhile for following-up on tradeshow leads in order to reach key decision-makers.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Granted that there is that percentage of tradeshow attendees that think of tradeshows as just time away from work or as that free trip on the company's dime. This group of people will look at your trade booth as a source of "freebies" to bring home as gifts for their friends or families. This is one of those inevitable annoyances that can surface at trade shows. Don't worry about it, those people aren't your target audience anyway. Give them their piece of swag and let them move on.
I recommend: There will be people that show up at your booth that just want the "freebie" and don't care about your product. There will always be things that won't go as you plan, both at your tradeshow, and in life. Don't worry about the things that won't mean anything in the long run. Stay positive and "don't sweat the small stuff."
Tips & Tactics
Be aware that your competitors might just be posing as potential clients to "fish" for confidential or new product information. Don't give away too much company-specific info without at least getting that person's contact information.
Have a sign-up list handy for those that want to be contacted by a company representative after the tradeshow or convention. Combine the sign-up sheet with a free newsletter or contest entry offer to entice people to at least leave an email address or a phone number.