Why does everyone use them? Simply put, when executed strategically, they work.
The right item, coupled with the right show and right strategy can be a highly effective lead generation tool. Promotional giveaways can drive traffic, generate buzz and leave a lasting impression long after the show. When treated as an afterthought or as a stand-alone component in your tradeshow program, they are often nothing more than a wasted investment.
Mistake No 1: Placing promotional items ahead of strategy.
Strategy comes first. Promo items come second. What do you want to accomplish at the show/event? Define your tradeshow objectives first so that your giveaway item supports your theme versus the other way around.
Mistake No. 2: Not thinking like your audience.
Make your selection based on relevance to the target audience. While an engineer will love your Swiss army knife tool, a chef may not. Let your audience demographics drive your selection process. Be sure to include your sales team in the selection process. They know the audience best and have valuable insight into their mindset.
Mistake No. 3: Giving the same thing to everyone.
Tier your giveaways based on relevance. Hot prospects get one promotional item. Tire-kickers get another. Let the value of the potential business prospect determine the value of the incentive item. Keep high value items locked up and safe.
Mistake No. 4: Not controlling distribution.
Promotional giveaways are a tool to encourage interaction between booth staffer and prospect. Qualify attendees by requiring an action in return for receiving the promo item. Prospects earn the item in return for providing contact information, opting into your newsletter or watching a demo. Promo items are a reward, not a right. Plus, prospects will place a higher value on an item they have to earn.
Mistake No. 5: Forgetting to factor in the entire cost.
When selecting a promotion item, be sure to consider the entire cost of the item. Artwork design, setup costs, printing and shipping all should be factored into the final budget.
Mistake No. 6: Selecting based on price point.
Never purchase cheap items just to have something to give away. Cheap pens and water bottles that leak will reflect badly upon you, not the manufacturer. Quality always wins over quantity.
Mistake No. 7: Thinking short-term.
Promotional items can be used in many ways outside of a tradeshow. The sales team can use them as a leave-behind after a sales call. They can be used as corporate gifts and as employee rewards. The cost of each promotional item goes down in relation to the quantity. Think multi-purpose when researching giveaway items so you can harness the power of bulk purchasing.
Mistake No. 8: Giving away the same old thing.
Just because a promotional item worked in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s immortal. As the times change, so should the giveaways.
Mistake No. 9: Playing comedian.
Remember that humor is not universal. Just because you think something is funny or witty, doesn’t mean your target audience will.
Mistake No. 10: Not including contact information.
While this seems elemental, I’m always surprised to see it happen time and time again. Make sure company contact information is clearly visible on the item and don’t forget to include social media icons.
About Peggy Swords
Peggy Swords is the founder and president of Excalibur Exhibits, a $10 million Houston-based exhibit manufacturing and production corporation. Excalibur Exhibits designs, builds, delivers, assembles and disassembles as many as 300 exhibits per year. Swords was named as a finalist for NAWBO Houston 2003 Woman Business Owner of the Year and 2005 Enterprising Woman of the Year Finalist. Additionally, Excalibur Exhibits is a five time member of the Inc 5000, a three time member of the LSU100 and a two time member of the Houston Fast 100, a list of fastest growing privately held companies.