Trade Show Giveaways: A necessary evil?

  • Mar 22, 2017

Before heading to a trade show, do you order giveaways out of obligation, since they are “expected?”

Even as you place the order, do you bristle at the realization that “scoopers” and “bag-ladies” will descend like vultures at your booth, snatching up promotional items so they can drop them into a junk drawer, never again to see the light of day?

If you feel this way, you are not alone. Clients often come to us complaining about the scenario.  Let us put your mind at ease by explaining that there is a science to the art of trade show giveaways. 

trade show peopleThe Science Behind Trade Show Giveaways

First, answer this question: what is your objective? 

Brand Awareness?

Lead Generation? 

Wining and dining prospective clients? 

Each objective requires a slightly different scientific approach: 

o   Brand Awareness. To get the most bang for your buck, use a flashy trade show display and offer plenty of easily accessible branding gifts, such as bags for attendees to carry throughout the exhibition hall.  Make sure the branding gifts you offer will be used at home or in the office.  All branding gifts should match your branding standards.

o   Pick-up Leads. Since you won’t be able to recognize buyers until they come up to your booth, the best strategy is to get as many people to stop as possible. Do that by branding your booth with a pull-up sign or on the front of your table cover. And, instead of slapping a logo on the front, print: “Free water here” or “Free Wine-tasting here,” both of which are sure to generate buzz and draw large crowds. You’re there to attract as many people as you can, so draw them any way you can. Then, when they arrive at your booth, plan your approach. Come up with a few short questions to determine if they are promising prospects. Finally, give them a branded gift for stopping by, in addition to the water or wine. Make sure it’s a something your ideal prospect would value. For example, if you’re in the home improvement business, consider branding levels, tape measures or hammers, etc.    


o   Advance Pick-up leads. Knowing who will attend the trade show in advance is valuable information. Since your booth will be competing with everyone else at the show, stand out by sending an invitation to your booth. The postcard should incentivize them to seek you out at the trade show, so they can redeem their invite for a gift that any key prospect would enjoy. When they arrive, don’t make the mistake of handing them the gift or hiring someone else to distribute the items and send visitors on their way. Instead, plan to ask a few open-ended questions, which you can pose even as you are reaching for their gift. This will initiate a conversation and provide you with valuable information.  

o   Wine and Dine your clients. This strategy is different than the rest, as it assumes you will reserve a special room for VIPs. If you want to dress to impress, don’t forget to outfit the room. Represent your brand on items such as logo’d napkins, wine glasses, and trays.  Use pull-up, or other temporary wall or floor graphic branded signs. And instead of giving gifts to attendees as they enter, give them as they leave, so you can thank them for coming and offer a wrapped gift.

o   After the show. Once you’ve picked up leads, made contacts, and connected with everyone on your list, follow up. Do this by calling, sending a personal thank you note, or with your business card and a pen that features their name.  

trade show on tableDoes it all work?  YES!

·      8 out of 10 consumers revealed that their impression of a brand positively changed directly as a result of receiving a promotional product from the featured brand.*

·      83% said they are more likely to do business with brands they’ve received promotional products from than brands from whom they have not received promotional products. *

OnTarget Promotions
 is a national promotional products agency based in Riverside, California. We help clients use promotional products along with other media to design and secure quality promotional programs that meet their goals and exceed their expectations. Since we believe nothing is a greater reflection of success than a repeat customer, everything we do is designed with our customer in mind. Your focus is our goal. Call (951) 682-8427 or email us to start your project today


*Resource:  Mapping Out the Modern Consumer - 2017 PPAI Consumer Study

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