Swag 101: Trade Show Giveaways and Promotional Products
by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer
Updated March 2016
You work hard to design an attention-getting booth to stand out in crowded exhibit halls. Savvy marketers put as much effort into designing useful trade show giveaways as they do eye-catching trade show banners, signage and expo floor displays.
Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing and designing branded giveaways and other promotional products:
1. Brand Alignment
Key consideration: Does the item support your brand and corporate image?
Expert insight: It's got to be something that communicates the company's brand strategy, otherwise it's just another gimmick, explains Los Angelesbased branding expert Rob Frankel. The most important aspect of giveaways is the ability to tie the promotional item to the solution the brand provides the prospect. For instance, branded aprons are a natural choice for food-related businesses.
Action item: Brainstorm trade show giveaways within the context of your brand or product/service promise.
2. Audience Value
Key consideration: Whats going to resonate with your customers, prospects and fans?
Expert insight: There are two schools of thought on promotional items: Make them practical or make them unique. Theres a reason tote bags are the number-one branded giveaway because people use them. Promotional pens and branded hand sanitizer, stress balls and water bottles are always in demand, which means they get frequent use and spread your logo around for all to see. More substantial and creative logoed items also get traction, such as LED keychain flashlights, chargers, and even games and toys like a mini basketball or paddleball.
Action item: Consider what problems or frustrations your customers have and choose a trade show promotional item that solves or eases it. Or think of something fun that makes them smile.
Key consideration: Is the item built to last?
Expert insight: Low-quality or malfunctioning branded giveaways dont reflect well on your business. Swag pieces are infamous for being cheap and short-lived exactly the opposite of how you want a relationship with your brand to be, Frankel declares.
Action item: Check online reviews for the products you consider, and ask your vendor for items with high-quality construction and materials, and good durability ratings.
Key consideration: Whats the highest-quality trade show giveaway you can get with the marketing budget available, and whats it going to cost to get the item to the show?
Expert insight: Whatever swag you decide on usually has to be shipped to the trade show, event or promotional location, cautions Chicago-area marketer Jhan Robert Dolphin. Think ahead about the size and weight of the items you want to hand out. Shipping can be a killer, and what if they take up too much storage space in a trade show display? If the items are too big to easily carry around, the idea fails.
Action item: Investigate free shipping options with your vendor, or select a provider who has a location in the show city so you can easily pick up the goods and avoid costly freight charges.
Other important tips:
Armed with this expert advice, you can ensure your trade show swag ideas reflect well on your business and resonate with recipients. Thats the key to getting better results from your branded giveaways marketing activities.