With so many places to order branded merchandise, how do you know what you’re really getting? Sometimes it takes an expert to help you figure it out. This episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee feature Mike Stanton of Agitprop Productions discussing the ins and outs of tracking down quality promotional branded items.
Drawing a tradeshow crowd is the boiled-down essence of the reason for exhibiting at a tradeshow. With hundreds or thousands of competing tradeshow exhibits, every single one of them wants to find a way to draw the biggest crowds throughout the tradeshow. Having a crowd – and knowing what to do with it – is the best path to success in your tradeshow marketing endeavors.
Given that, let’s take a look at ways you can spend a little money and draw a crowd.
Hire a pro. Professional presenters know what they’re doing. They will put together a short presentation designed specifically to not only draw a crowd but inform and educate the crowd about your product or service.
Have an exhibit that is visually appealing and feels comfortable to walk into. Many exhibits look great but feel intimidating and will turn people away. Does your exhibit invite visitors to come in?
Do consistent pre-show marketing. Letting people know what to expect at your show is one of the keys to getting people to make a special trip to your exhibit.
Leverage your social media activity. Make sure that all posts include the show hashtag and your booth number.
Have a famous person in your exhibit. No, you can’t hire the Brad Pitts, George Clooneys or Jennifer Lawrences, but you can hire an author or speaker that is well-known in your industry to draw a crowd.
Have a well-trained and fun booth staff.
Offer food. Yes, at a food show, you won’t stand out that much. But at a non-food show, it can help draw a crowd. One exhibitor I saw years ago at a tech show made smoothies for visitors. Since it took a minute or two for each smoothie to be made, the staff had plenty of time to chat with folks in the smoothie line to determine if they were prospects or not.
Offer a unique giveaway. Promotional items are a dime a dozen, but if you are offering something useful and cool, word will get around.
And remember – once you have drawn a crowd, be sure you know what to do with them!
Frankly, I don’t know that much about tradeshow giveaways. I tend to leave that to the people I know who have been doing it for years. Maybe it’s easy to pick something out of a catalog and submit an order. Choosing the right giveaway that resonates with your audience takes more thought and insight.
So I thought it might be fun to see what shows up when you search for tradeshow giveaways + blog posts + 2017.
What’s New for 2017?
First, here’s a post from the Delta Marketing Group. It’s a 2014 post that was updated earlier this year. It highlights tech giveaways such as smartphone smart phones, cable dock magnet mounts, keystands and more. There are also several with non-tech items such as socks, adult coloring books and more.
Perry Office Plus offers a look at light-up items, chargers, LED flashlights and others.
EmbroidMe offers a variety of items in this infographic.
The idea behind tradeshow giveaways would seem to be to make something useful so that they keep the item around for a long time. IAEE looks at some of these items, which included phone chargers, wearable tech and others. If your giveaway is environmentally friendly, it leaves the visitor with a positive impression of your company.
Let’s wrap it up with this blog post from Crazy Dave’s Promos, which offers tradeshow giveaways such as USB flash drives, totes and bags, stylus pens and more.
Of course you can easily go online and order tradeshow giveaways. But to me it makes more sense to find a trusted partner that you can work with over time. It’s a good way to keep you aware of trends. This helps you come up with unique offerings that match with what your company is trying to do with tradeshow giveaways.
Here are six random but unforgettable tradeshow tips to take you to a successful tradeshow experience.
Standing out. Your tradeshow exhibit should stand out from others in any way it can. Of course, with hundreds or even thousands of booths trying to attract eyeballs, that may be difficult. But if you realize that every other booth is trying to do the same, you can stand out by being different. That may mean a dynamic color, a hanging sign, bright colors, bold statements and compelling questions in your marketing message.
Freebies. There are right and wrong ways to approach giving away trinkets and tchotchkes. Don’t give something away just for the sake of giving something away. Having a pen with your logo on it may mean something to you, but to a visitor, it’s like every other pen they got that day. If the giveaway is usable and memorable, it may get noticed longer. For instance, a premium giveaway for a special visitor that you’re really trying to sell may mean a metal coffee cup with your logo or something similar. Work with your promotional products company to find the appropriate freebie.
Business cards. When was the last time you went to a networking event or tradeshow and realized you didn’t have enou
gh business cards? It happens. In fact, it happened to me last week! Plan ahead and don’t forget to take more than you think you’ll need.
30-second pitch. Most standard sales pitches will be packed with features and benefits, but that is a good way to become very forgettable. Instead, come up with an engaging question, or an introductory question that gets a visitor to stop. Then you can go into a pitch that focuses on how you work with clients: “we help frustrated marketers that can’t find a good graphic designer, or they’re embarrassed by poor printing, or they don’t have an overall program to get their brand image out online – I don’t suppose any of these concerns or challenges affect you?”
Traffic Flow. If your booth is blocked off from the aisle by tables and chairs, people won’t come inside your booth. If they don’t come inside your booth, you can’t have a comfortable conversation with them about what their challenges are and how your product or service may help them. No matter what size your booth, the traffic flow should be a prime consideration of your booth design.
Have fun! Tradeshows are a short-term, high energy commitment. The more fun it looks like you and your staff are having, the more people you’ll attract. And tradeshow are all about attracting people and knowing what to do with them!
Take these 6 unforgettable tradeshow tips and use them to make your next tradeshow appearance a successful one!
As tradeshow veterans, you probably have your go-to list of ‘don’t forget’ items. So I thought it would be fun to check around and compile a thorough list of things you might at least consider taking in your kit. Whether they are in a travel bag, or (in some cases) in the exhibit crates, the list can get long. The key is to have an item when you need it. And being on the tradeshow floor trying to get a light to hang, or unscrew a tight screw or fix a banner stand, each situation requires a different fix.
So let’s jump in and see what people would put on their list.
After walking the floor of many a chaotic tradeshow, I’m always interested (and somewhat amused) by what catches my eye. And what doesn’t.
So what works to bring ’em in? What is like honey to the fly?
Here, in no particular order, are several things that made me stop and take a look at a product or service:
demonstrations: a professionalpresenter with a 5-7 minute presentation can do wonders for a tradeshow exhibit
eye candy: this can be large colorful graphics, something moving (rotating or spinning graphics/wheels/etc), booth babes, anything that says “STOP! LOOK! NOW!” Admittedly, the booth babes drew my eyes but rarely connect me to an actual product!
whether it’s Muriel Hemingway or Dr. Andrew Weil or anyone else that catches an eye, a celebrity gives your booth credibility and power – at least to a certain amount of the audience.
unusual product: a new or unusual product, even in a lousy-looking booth, can be enough to draw me in.
unusual booth design: a stellar, spare, unusual booth design is a very attractive piece. If it’s unusual enough it’ll have people stopping regardless of the product. Again, the product has to be worth the attention or the booth design fails. But with the right combination, POW!
giveaways or free samples: a typical giveaway gets me to stop for a heartbeat. A cool/unusual/clever giveaway that ties in with the product gets me thinking. If it’s damn yummy I will come back for more and figure out where to buy the product when I get home.
smile: a pleasant smile and non-threatening greeting from a booth staffer does wonders in getting people to stop and examine your offerings.
action in the booth: video or audio interviews draw a crowd. A simple camera/microphone set-up makes people curious. Curiosity helps draw a crowd.
The initial goal of your booth is to get a visitor to stop. Once they’ve stopped, they’ve mentally committed at least a smidgen of time to your offerings. From that moment, it’s up to your (highly trained) booth staff to positively engage them, qualify or disqualify them, grab contact info if interested and move them into the sales funnel.
Since I’m known on Twitter for having information on green marketing, my friend “Tradeshow Guy” Tim Patterson asked the question, “Are there items in the promotional giveaway world that are truly ‘green?’ And if not, that’s a story in itself!” It sure would be.
It really comes down to how do YOU define a “green” promotional product? Currently, defining what is green is all over the place. One can call a reusable bag or water bottle green because it would be reused several times and not immediately make its way to a landfill. For the most strict green marketers, a reusable item is a cop out. They might not be happy until the item has been made of plastic derived from organic non-food supply corn grown in the United States in a factory powered by sun or wind that is employee owned and gives 10 percent of its profits to charity.
Because it is so difficult to determine if a giveaway is green, some time back I developed the Green Promo Score Sheet which is available for free download at GreenPromoScoreSheet.com. It helps you assess the “green-ness” of your giveaway based on over a dozen factors such as if it is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, organic, fair trade, etc.
If you do decide to go down the green giveaway path, make sure that you select a giveaway that matches your objectives or purpose. For example, if your company is promoting that you are using alternative energy, don’t give away something that uses standard batteries! You might want to consider a flashlight that uses dynamo power (usually a crank which you turn to provide power) or solar.
When purchasing green promotional products, ask your supplier if he tell you what makes the item green or ecofriendly if specific claims are not made in the offer. Here is an example that I saw at an area business’ expo. They were giving out “natural” canvas tote bags to hold literature. Kudos for using a reusable product. But that may not have been the optimal choice for this event that was touting green products. Here’s why…
A lot of people think that if it’s cotton, it’s natural and therefore organic. Not so! Standard cotton production is not very environmentally friendly. It uses large amounts of pesticides, herbicides, and water. Organic cotton production uses non-GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, manual or natural weeding, and water saving techniques.
Watch for vague words in product descriptions such as natural, ecofriendly, or green. These need to be defined.
The number of green tradeshow giveaway items available is increasing all the time. While labeling standards are still in a state of flux, it pays to find out why a product is green before you spend your green.
About the Author
Heidi Thorne is a promotional products and social media marketing consultant, specializing in ecofriendly, USA and union made products. A variety of more ecofriendly promotional products is available at her PromoWithPurposeShop.com shopsite. For more information on how to green up your marketing, visit her blog at PromoWithPurposeToday.com.