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4 Minute Read

Should I give away promo items at a trade show?

4 Minute Read

Blog Image_Promo-at-tradeshows


Well actually – only if you are interested in getting the best return from the $$$ you have spent in just showing up at the expo.

If not, then please don’t waste your valuable time by reading the rest of this article.

What are good promo items?

The term “promotional product” is extremely broad and is basically anything that has your name or brand on it. This means it can range from the all popular pens right through to a bicycle or a BBQ bearing a quality sticker that represents your brand. Or even a digital item like a check-out code that will give the recipient free products on your webstore.

The main point with tradeshow promotional is that it has to meet the following criteria or it becomes impractical:

  1. Small enough for someone to carry for the rest of the day
  2. Useful enough for someone to keep long enough to get back to their home or office.
  3. Able to pass airport security (or at least fit into someone’s check-in baggage!)
  4. And represent your message and brand effectively

Valuable Ideas

Recently I participated in a LinkedIn group chat that has over 20,000 members and attracted almost 100 marketing and tradeshow professionals to participate – commenting on what are the great ideas for promo items at tradeshows and what has worked for them.

A lot of brilliant ideas but it all comes down to you as a company or individual. What is your purpose of exhibiting?

Unless you can answer this with confidence you will never be able to have an effective expo result.

Never go without!

A key message that was repeated is this… “you must never go with nothing!” even just a basic item like a pen and pad – or a bag of lollies is better than nothing.

People now just expect to be able to take something away from your stand – and when you don’t have anything to offer – they walk away with a very bad taste and you can be sure that a negative story will get told back at the office.

“I went in to the stand and spoke to the nice sales guy for 15min and all he could hand me was his card and a brochure! They can’t even afford a simple pen so they mustn’t be a very stable company – obviously on their last legs.”

When you sell a small enough product you will have a huge impact if you only give away a sample of the product itself.

Give it as a reward

Always, always, always, give the gifts as a reward for something that you get from the prospect. Randomly handing out products is a great way to get rid of excess items but does little for your ROI.

Having a conversation and getting a name, email, phone number or even a referral in return for a gift will mean a lot more to the prospect than if you just hand a goody bag to people walking past. Make it meaningful.

The whole point of a trade show or expo is to talk to people. Unless you are talking to people you are better off spending your money on advertising online or in social media.

High perceived value

Try and give your promo gift a high perceived value – presentation can go a very long way in a prospects mind and tells them what you are like as a company.

Consider a company whose staff grab a handful of loose pens and a notepad from the table and hand them to a prospect they’ve spent 5 min talking to.

Now think about a company that has 2 pens tied in a ribbon or paper sleeve and has the notebook and pens in a clear pvc bag.

It has cost them maybe an extra $4 and will most likely get thrown out or packed in to a bag draw somewhere… but the image that the 2nd company is leaving is one of success, forward thinking, resource and capital.

Who doesn’t want to deal with a company that is going places!

Do your math…

Finally, you need to be doing your sums. Make sure that whatever you are handing out and the qty that you expect to hand out are making financial sense.

If you expect to get 200 quality leads at the expo and your product or service is worth $20 then it isn’t viable for you to be spending $10 on a package to hand out.

However, you would spend $10 per lead if your product or service is worth $2000.

Talk to us today to find out how we can help you with these decisions.

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