Will your trade show giveaways be trash or treasure?

Swag, tchotchkes, freebies - trade show giveaways have earned a lot of labels, and not all of them are nice. Ever heard someone dismissing "gewgaws" and "doodads" as a waste of money? Ouch! The truth is, trade show giveaways have great potential rewards - if you choose the right item. They also have some risks if you're not careful. Here's the good, bad, and ugly of trade show swag.


1. Increase booth traffic with an attention-getting giveaway. When trade show attendees see that you're giving out something cool and free, they're more likely to stop by your booth - and if it's really compelling, they'll tell friends and colleagues to visit you, too. In the trade show biz, they call that "booth buzz." 2. Inspire the "reciprocity effect." Studies have shown that when people receive a gift, they feel obligated to return the favor. This means they're more likely to give you their business - or at least listen to your pitch. 3. Emphasize your message with something they can touch. The most effective communication engages all the senses. Your booth will be full of things they can see, and they'll be able to hear you speaking; add something they can hold and touch, and you increase the likelihood that your message will stick in their mind. Choose giveaways that convey the unique features of your company. Mini Screwdriver Set Key Ring 4. Quickly show prospects that you understand them. The best promotional products are the ones that are useful, so take some time to think about what would your target audience needs. What would make their lives a little easier? A computer repair technician might like a mini multi-tool keychain. A business traveler might appreciate ear plugs in a convenient case. A college student might want a handy highlighter for studying. People like doing business with companies that "get" them. 5. After the event, your item serves as a reminder. Part of the marketing value of a trade show giveaway is in the moment the gift is given - but a bigger part is in the days and weeks following the event. Ideally, the prospect will keep the item, use it often, and be reminded of your company, calling when they're ready to get down to business. Consider including your website or phone number on the item.


1. Watch out for herds of swag scavengers. Remember the "booth buzz" we mentioned above? It can backfire if you're not prepared. Of course you want lots of people to visit your booth - but not if they're only there for the freebies and there's no chance they'll ever do business with your company. Then they're just taking up space and preventing you from focusing on actual prospects. Make sure you have a clear path for people who really want to engage with you. 2. The wrong item may be perceived as "junk." Consumers today have a love-hate relationship with stuff: We like getting stuff, but we also worry about the amount of stuff that ends up in landfills. If your company is distributing useless, unappealing, unoriginal items, people may develop a negative impression of your company. Don't let bad swag give you a bad name! 3. The item might end up in the trash, wasting your marketing dollars. This often happens with low-quality items. When you're working with a firm budget, it's tempting to choose the cheapest item you can find. But if the item breaks right away, you get no value from it at all. Think of it this way: Would you rather spend $30,000 on a car that will last you 10 years, or $3,000 on a car that will go up in smoke next week? As with everything in life, value matters in trade show swag. Finding that perfect trade show giveaway can be a challenge. As with any marketing effort, keep your goals in mind and watch out for the pitfalls. Feel free to lean on our expertise. Contact us, fill us in on your project, and let us search for the perfect trade show giveaway for your event.