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How to Select the Right Promotional Products for Your Trade Show

Are T-shirts better giveaways than chocolates or key chains? Here are some simple guidelines for trade show specialties:

The item should be functional and always have your company name and phone number or website address.

• The specialty should tie into your company’s exhibit theme or overall marketing message. For example, to celebrate its 75th anniversary, one mining equipment manufacturer set up an exhibit booth with a diamond-mine theme. The giveaway was a $3 diamond-tip engraving tool, which could be used for putting identification numbers on personal possessions.

• Some specialties are more appropriate for some types of shows. Rulers and other measuring devices are big at construction shows, while desk-top items are popular with professional groups, for instance.

• Cutesy is nice, and may even initially draw a crowd, but it rarely spurs future business.

Don’t give “kid toys” to adults because these items inevitably end up in the kids’ rooms and out of your buyer’s sight.

TIP #1: Apparel is Important
• Imprinted apparel should be an important part of any trade show planning session (both as a giveaway and for outfitting your booth workers) Basic tees are consistently popular because they provide a nice big canvas for a logo, they’re inexpensive to produce in large quantities, and sizing is less of an issue than with more fitted products like sport shirts. Sizing is an important consideration when giving away products. During the chaos of a show, you don’t want to waste time searching through several different sizes for your booth visitors. Consider tote bags and headwear as possible alternatives, especially since they can be put to use immediately.

​TIP #2: Forget the Fishbowl
• One common show promotional tool we suggest you avoid is the “drop your card in a fishbowl” contests for free gifts like a flat screen TV. These often attract many unqualified leads and offers little goodwill among those who don’t win.
• However, if you do plan on using booth games or contests, don’t make booth visitors feel like losers. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure everyone wins something and everybody leaves the booth feeling good about their experience. Bottom line: Have imprinted prizes for everyone.
• Also be sure there is a selling element to it. A good way of utilizing game time is to interview and qualify people while they stand in line.
• If possible, conduct a game at your booth that can be promoted before the show, such as mailing out:
• Treasure chests keys along with invitations to visit your booth
• A jigsaw puzzle piece that may win by completing a puzzle in the booth
• A playing card (printed with your logo) which the booth visitor will use to fill in winning poker hands in your booth

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