How To Find the Best Trade Show Giveaways

Trade Show giveaways, premiums, promotional products, traffic builders, tchotchke, swag…

These items have many names, but they all mean the same thing. A trade show giveaway is a small gift given away at trade shows and events. Many marketers spend lots of time trying to figure out which is the best trade show giveaway for their upcoming event.

Why bother, you ask? Exhibitors give these away to enhance their company’s image, and to encourage visitors to their booths. These promo items can range from the ridiculous to the sublime.

exhibit booths designed for product demos and displays

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Everyone expects swag at shows. Thus, you might expect that exhibitors shop for their premiums well in advance.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

This is according to a representative of a large premium supplier. She spoke so frankly that she asked me not to use her name.

I asked her how often customers come to her looking for ‘something.’ And asked her, do any customers come with no plan for how that item would relate to their brand? Or their message or their market?

“Honestly, it happens every day,” she said. “So, we dig deeper for details. We research their target audience and end-users for them.”

“Often we ask ourselves, ‘What would I want if I were a [fill in the blank]?’”

“This research gives us what we need to make more targeted product suggestions.”

What steps does she take to help her clients? How does she help determine what premium will be most effective for them?

“We go through a discovery process, where we ask questions like:”

  • What is your per unit budget?
  • Desired quantity?
  • Deadline for delivery?
  • Demographics of the recipient (i.e., males in the engineering field who love gadgets)?
  • Are Pantone colors for corporate branding needed on your trade show giveaways?
  • Size and location placement for your company logo or design?”
  • What do you hope to gain with this campaign?
    • increase sales, awareness or employee morale
    • educate prospects or customers
    • provide a call to action
    • drive traffic to a website or trade show booth
    • follow up after a sales call
    • include in a promotional mailing, general branding, etc.?
Next, I asked her, does she offer to help clients integrate the swag into show marketing efforts?

“Yes, typically, we can help our client create buzz. We do this by incorporating some part of the total premium in a direct mail campaign.

For example: 

If a client is going to launch a new smartphone at their next show: we would do a series of pre-show mailings:

  • Four weeks out, we send registered attendees a cell phone cleaning wipe with a full color printed invitation.
  • Three weeks prior, we send a customized pen that also functions as a stylus with the phone.
  • Two weeks before the show, we send a cell phone media stand with a reminder of our client’s booth number.
  • Then, at the show, the client gives away a Bluetooth speaker, for booth visitors who schedule a sales call at the show.
  • Traditional post-show follow-up is usually left to the client. This changes if they want to add other premium items into their post-show marketing plans.
She has some other tips for tradeshow marketers to consider when purchasing premium items:

“I recommend ordering at least four weeks before an event.”

“Unfortunately, premiums are often an afterthought, which leads to a frustrating last-minute scramble. This makes it difficult to secure inventory, the desired colors, and the quantities needed.”

“In turn, that incurs rush charges and expedited freight expenses. The sooner we are included in the process, the smoother it goes.”

How much swag should exhibitors buy for their trade show booth?

“When determining how many trade show giveaways to order, many exhibitors divide the number of attendees by three. For example, if they expect 3,000 show attendees, they’ll order 1,000 premiums.”

“But there’s a caveat. The best booth locations tend to get more visitors. So they will often need more promotional items.”

How much should you expect to spend, to get a good promotional bang for your buck, so that they remember you?

“Five to ten dollars tend to be the ‘sweet spot’ that will give you quite a bit of promotional bang for your buck.”

In closing our interview, I asked her one final but important question. What promotional items does she consider a waste of time in virtually any situation?

“Anything that will be thrown away (a one-use item), or anything that is disconnected from the company’s message.”

“There are tens of thousands of swag products to choose from. It is important to pick items with staying power that clients will see and use often.”

I appreciated her candor. You rarely find someone who will tell it like it is.

I hope you’ve found this premium supplier’s comments helpful. I hope her comments help guide you through the process of getting the right product for your next trade show.

The Best Tradeshow Giveaways, Revisited

Giveaways are constantly changing, and more people are looking for more inspiring products, and that can create more loyalty for their brand. Who needs another trinket for the charity pile that is full of other items with a company logo?

Custom products are also trending, and with all the advances in technology, more custom products can be created all the time on different kinds of surfaces and items, including apparel, which always grabs people's attention.

However, when choosing tradeshow giveaways that get awesome results, you also want to keep your budget in mind. For a more cost-effective promotion, you need to create a high volume of brand exposure. So, the items you give out need to attract more quality leads than ever before. 

Touch Tools

A touch tool is a useful giveaway item and something small that can be placed on a keyring and is something people can take with them wherever they go. In today's times, when hygiene is more important than ever, a customized touch tool is a unique tradeshow item that people can use to pull, press, and turn objects without having to touch the items directly. They are made from durable and high-strength ABS plastic.

Another great giveaway idea that is practical and can be placed on a keychain and taken wherever you go is a bottle opener or a small bottle of hand sanitizer. All of these ideas can be customized and targeted for your target audience and can increase booth traffic at your next tradeshow.

Blue Light Glasses

This is another high-quality product that you can get at a low and affordable cost for your next tradeshow. More people are transitioning to remote work positions at home, and many are spending more time in front of their screens.

These glasses protect the eyes and the health of those wearing them. It is protection from the blue light that screens and many other LED lights give off. You can easily customize these glasses with your brand using some tasteful messaging. 

Cleaning Spray and Microfiber Cloths

Another useful item that people would love to receive at a tradeshow is a small cleaning spray and even a microfiber cloth. Together, you can use them to remove fingerprints and smudges from screens, and they are small enough to carry around with you.

Not only is this giveaway idea a practical product you can use to promote your brand, but it is also memorable because it is something that will sit on people's desks to be used over and over again throughout the day.

Custom Socks

Custom socks are another inexpensive promotional item you can use to splash your company logo. Logo socks have even won exhibitor awards in the past as the best promotional product. Customers love apparel items they can actually wear, and socks are a universal pleaser.

Final Thoughts

Left un-mentioned in this discussion of SWAG is the possibility of offering free product samples along with, or instead of, SWAG. If you’re proud of what your business does, don’t be afraid to share it with the world to gain some new customers. Whether it’s traditional free product samples of your food or a giveaway that lets people experience a service you offer, there’s no better way to gain attention and create some loyal customers.

And final thought; a great premium is one element of the mix that can make your next trade show more successful. Another element that helps guarantee success is a great trade show booth. If you need one of those, we can help you imagine and create a great trade show exhibit. It will attract attention and communicate your message clearly, memorably, and effectively. To learn more, call us at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].