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Trade Show Giveaway Top 10

Smart Questions for Smart Promotional Product Buyers
By Susan Friedmann

Walk around any trade or consumer show, and you can collect a bagful of giveaway items all designed to promote. But look a little closer. How many do a really effective job? How clearly do they get a message across? Is the giveaway useful or unique enough that you would want to keep and use it? These questions and more need to be considered before jumping into the giveaway game.

When deciding whether to use giveaways the next time you exhibit, consider the following questions:

1. What do you want to achieve?
Your giveaway should increase your memorability, communicate, motivate, promote or increase recognition. It is important that not only the message, but also the item itself have a positive impact.

2. What will you give away?
To select the right item, you need to define your objective. Do you want to enhance a theme, convey a specific message or educate your target audience? A clear purpose should help make your selection process easier. Remember that your company image is reflected in whatever you choose to give away.

3. Who is your audience?
Having a clear objective for your premium item will also help you decide who should receive it. You might have different quality gifts for your key customers, prospects and general passersby.

4. How does your giveaway tie in with your marketing theme?
Is there an item that naturally complements your marketing message? An important aspect of any gift is to remember who it was from long after the fact.

5. What’s your budget?
Quality, quantity and special orders all impact the price. Establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan. Consider ordering the same item for several different shows. The greater the quantity of your order, the lower the individual unit price.

6. What must visitors do to qualify for a gift item?
There are several ways to use your product effectively: As a reward for visitors who have given you qualifying information about their specific needs; or as a thank you for stopping at the booth. Avoid leaving items out for anyone to take. This diminishes value and has little or no memorability factor.

7. Will your giveaway directly influence future sales?
Consider handing out a coupon or a gift certificate that requires future contact with your company for redemption. Consider products that will help generate frequent visits to customers and prospects, such as calling you for free refills.

8. How does your giveaway complement your exhibiting goals?
Premiums can be used to pre-qualify your prospects. One company uses playing cards. Prior to the show, they send "kings" to their key customers, "queens" to suppliers and "jacks" to new or hot prospects. They invite each recipient to bring the card to the booth in exchange for a special gift. When a card is presented, the booth staffers already know certain information about the visitor. They can then act on their previous knowledge and use time with the visitor more productively.

9. How will you inform your target audience about your giveaway item?
Make sure your prospects know about your giveaway. Send a "tickler" invitation with the details of the giveaway or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects prior to the show and telling them to collect the other half at your booth. (See inside for several two-piece premium ideas.)

10. How will you measure the success of your giveaway?
Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your giveaway. If it is a redemption item, code it so that you know its results from the show. Post-show follow-ups could include a questionnaire about the premium: Did visitors remember receiving it? How useful was the item? After the show, critique your giveaway with your exhibit team: Did it draw specific prospects to the booth? Was it eye-catching enough to persuade passersby to stop? Did your customers find it useful? Did it project the right corporate image?

There are plenty of exciting promotional products and premiums from which to choose. Make your giveaway work for you and it will be money well invested.

Adapted from the May, 2000 issue of Trade Show Ideas, a publication of the Trade Show Exhibitors Association.
Susan Friedmann

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