Promotional Giveaways for Trade Shows: Don't Give Away the Farm

As I walked the aisles at a recent trade show, I was struck by the many promotional items in each booth.  Some folks were in the aisles giving away items like it was trick treat time at Halloween.  Potential clients and browsers had bags at the ready to catch any flashy item that was handed to them.  There were pens, pads, flash lights, and hats ready for the taking.  I encountered one booth that literally looked like a flee market.  There were literally hundreds of items in groups piled high on tables that surrounded the entire booth.  People were lined up to walk around the U shaped counters, grabbing a plethora of items.  At the end of the line of stress balls, calculators, and hand sanitizers was a leather like portfolio.  You could tell that was the coveted item since there were far less of these than all of the other items.

I was curious so I engaged a sales person (once I caught his eye above the towering note pads).  He was friendly and introduced himself.  I was familiar with this company but asked what they were marketing at this particular show since it seemed out of their traditional show schedule. I also asked what the strategy was behind the many promotional items laid out for the taking.  He said they just had lots of stuff and they thought it was a good way to get people to the booth.  What kind of people I asked?  He looked puzzled.  I smiled and walked away since I didn’t want to give my unsolicited professional opinion.

Promotional items should be thoughtful and planned just like any other facet of your trade show program.  While we all want our companies to be remembered after we leave the show, we want to be remembered for the right reasons.    You can have inexpensive promotional items and also plan nicer items for qualified prospects.  The items that you take to the show should also be something that either relates to your theme or the something that the prospect will use long after they leave your booth.  For example, a USB drive with your literature uploaded, logo, and website is useful and keeps your name in front of the client whenever they plug it into their computer.

Just as a good item can create a great impressive, it can crate a bad one if you give away lots of cheap items.  Budget accordingly.  It may be better to provide fewer quantity of a nicer item that will go to your very best prospects.  Always give some sort of giveaway, but don’t give away the farm.