4 Tips for Tradeshow Giveaway Success

Proforma Blog

Image courtesy of PPAI

Many of us have been to tradeshows where we’ve been given bagfuls of promotional products by exhibitors that are designed to create goodwill and positive brand imaging which hopefully leads to a business relationship. Some of these giveaways capture our attention because of their uniqueness, quality and usefulness. Others are ‘circular filed’ before they leave the building. Therefore the challenge for those of you who exhibit at shows is; How do you choose a promotional product that has a long shelf-life, will be a lightning rod for attendees at the show and will simultaneously give your brand and marketing message maximum exposure?

The answer? Show that you C.A.R.E.

Category? Pens, caps, bags, office accessories and drinkware represent over 40% of the promotional products industry. People use these products. The trick is to find an item within one of these categories that meets your standards for quality, creativity, usefulness and end user appropriateness. Avoid anything that’s perceived as ‘seen that done that.’ Choose bright colors or unusual shapes and sizes to spark interest.  Remember the goal:  Select an item that your prospect will use and use often. Frequent use will lead to more impressions and greater brand awareness.

Appropriate? You also want to consider audience appropriateness when choosing a promotional item. You probably wouldn’t give a fridge magnet to a CEO, a mouse pad to fishermen or a $1 tape measure to a professional builder. Similarly you will help the prospect connect your brand with the service you provide when you tie the item to your industry. Financial services companies often give away calculators, pens, pads and clocks; technology companies mouse pads, usb’s, keyboard and monitor cleaners; travel companies luggage tags, bags and passport wallets.  If the item doesn’t have industry applications at least make sure it mirrors your image.  Are you promising above average service, value or quality? Choose an item that compliments and doesn’t detract from the image.

ROI? The key to developing an impactful marketing and advertising strategy is to utilize best practices that maximize return on investment (ROI). To that end be aware that the average cost per impression of an ad specialty item is $.004 versus $.019 for newspapers, $.033 for a national magazine and $.019 for primetime TV1. In addition, the recipient of a tradeshow give away has typically been prequalified by virtue of their show attendance making them a highly targeted prospect which will drive up the effectiveness of your campaign. If your giveaway accentuates your value proposition it will drive up your ROI further. If you claim to be a Mercedes or even a Toyota in your industry space don’t give out anything that reminds the recipient of a Pinto.

Entertainment? In order to increase brand awareness an effective tradeshow give away must be functional, attractive, have longevity and whenever possible contain a fun factor. The ultimate goal is to create buzz, visibility and for prospects to positively engage. It’s working if you see ‘em smile….and a smile is your best referral source. At the very least the item must be useful. Usefulness means your brand, contact information and marketing message are being seen over and over by your target audience which increases the likelihood of them calling you to place an order.

Show that you C.A.R.E. and you will reap a harvest of goodwill with prospects and clients and propel your brand to higher and higher levels.

Source: 4 Tips for Trade Show Giveaway Success

AboutWoody Kaye

Corporate Values, Inc. was formed in 1999 by Woody Kaye as a distributor of promotional products offering more than 600,000 imprintable items that can be fully customized with corporate or business unit logos, and/or conference or event information. Our company’s customer profile ranges from Fortune 400 financial services companies to retail conglomerates to technology start-ups. Corporate offices are in Roslyn, New York. Woody’s career has included commercial and investment banking, retail specialty food, acting as a sales rep in the golf industry and as a salesman for a promotional gift company. From highly structured and corporate to a “fly by your own compass” environment. From finance to food to fairways. Corporate Values developed out of a passion for outstanding service and creative solutions. Exceeding customer expectations is a goal with each and every client. This orientation stems from Woody’s own strong personal value of service. For Woody, helping individuals and organizations find solutions to their needs is where he finds true fulfillment.


  1. Great tips, thank you Woody!
    Giveaways are a great method to attract extra traffic to your booth and capture some good leads but it is more work than just picking whatever cheaper pen and putting a logo on it. Your article shows the important elements required for success. I specifically like the concept of “C.A.R.E” that makes it easy to remember!
    Now, the next logical step is to actually capture these leads you have generated. Traffic for the sake of traffic isn’t enough – you will need to have a short talk with each potential customer, identify his needs and value (is it a hot, warm or cold lead?) and write a precise report. Standardize your report template using digital solutions. At myfairtool.com we believe in digital – pen&paper has been a loyal solution for decades but it doesn’t give you the necessary edge to be better than competitors. Record all your notes digitally and follow-up personally with each prospect immediately after the event (48h MAX!)

    Good luck everyone with your next trade show!

  2. I really like the C.A.R.E idea. I would have never thought of those as aspects to choose a freebie item at a trade show. I like how you choose the word impressions. And the more someone use that freebie, you are creating more impressions which is more likely to lead to a sale. Thanks for sharing!

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