The trade show giveaway is a gimmick as old as the trade show itself. As is evidenced in the growth of the promotional products industry, every year marketers struggle to find the latest and greatest item to slap a logo on and buy in volume. However, thinking about your giveaway as an integral part of your brand presence increases the chances that your target audience will remember not just your company, but the key message you want to convey. So rather than specific gizmos and gadgets, focus on what’s trending in developing and executing a premium program that will deliver the results you intend.
Select a medium that reflects your brand message: Companies expend a significant amount of time and thought in creating a branded environment to reflect their messaging at events. What participants walk away with should be an extension of that environment, theme and messaging. For example, a client may be launching a product in the technology space at a show in Las Vegas. The key competitive differentiator of the product could be the way indicator lights would alert the user. To drive awareness among the entire participant population, the client could then give away branded re-freezable ice cubes that light up and flash in the same colors of the product’s indicator lights. For high-level buyers who schedule a demo meeting, the client could decide on a premium giveaway such as a branded plastic cocktail glass that also lights up in the colors of the lights. Participants could go one step farther and use both the glasses and cubes during a show floor reception, creating buzz that also leads to lead generation. A key component is having two levels of giveaways, which leads to the next trend.
Provide different-valued giveaways for different participant groups: Every show will have those attendees who are just interested in picking up the freebies from each exhibitor. For these participants, have a lower-valued giveaway, but only provide it after a short qualifying conversation (versus having it on your reception table for anyone to take). For key targets, have a higher-valued giveaway, but only provide it after an in-depth qualifying conversation, demo, or scheduled meeting.
Giveaways are not ‘free’, so don’t treat them as such: If the giveaway is generating buzz and driving traffic to the exhibit, it should be doing so after the participant receives them, not just from walking past your booth. Giveaways are not free – there is an inherent value in the branded items you provide. Participants should have to exchange their information to receive them. Even if they are not a buyer today, they may be someday. Having their information to add to a nurturing program is a reasonable expectation in return.
Be sure to use giveaways strategically to keep the trade show experience and conversation going when the attendee leaves the show floor.