Swag 101: What You Need to Know about Trade Show Giveaways and Promotional Items
by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer
One of the most important aspects of trade show exhibiting is swag those promotional items designed to spread your logo and message to the masses. Here are some core considerations to help choose and design giveaways that won't be left in the hotel room.
1. Brand Alignment
Key consideration: Does the item support our 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. Gimmicky toys are simply gimmicky toys. The most important aspect of giveaways is the ability to tie the promotional item to the solution the brand provides the prospect.
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 our customers, prospects and evangelists?
Expert insight: There are two schools of thought on promotional items: make them practical or make them unique. Personalized pens, mints and custom water bottles always seem to be in demand, which means theyll get frequent use and spread your logo around for all to see. But something silly or creative also gets traction. Scottsdale, AZbased Symmetry Softwares blinking badges have become collectibles since their debut in 2009. Emblazoned with the words Payroll Goddess or Payroll Titan, the items carry the logo of the companys flagship brand, PaycheckCity. Most often, payroll managers are overlooked until something goes wrong with an employee's paycheck, and then unfortunately, payroll managers are not always treated so nicely by upset employees, explains Elizabeth Oviedo, Symmetrys marketing manager. The badges address that head on by calling attention to the wearer. We routinely hear from attendees at our trade shows that they have a collection of Payroll Goddess blinking badges from over the years. As a result of this marketing campaign we've seen increased brand recognition for PaycheckCity positioning us as the leader in paycheck management tools.
Action item: Consider what problems or frustrations your customers have and choose a trade show promotional item that solves or eases it.
Key consideration: Is the item built to last?
Expert insight: Its not a good reflection on your business if the promotional items you give out break or malfunction soon after the show. 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: Ask your vendor for items with high-quality construction and materials, and good durability ratings.
Key consideration: Whats the highest-quality trade show giveaway we 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 Jhan Robert Dolphin, director of Kenosha, WIbased Forge Ahead USA, a marketing assistance program that helps U.S manufacturers take advantage of their American-made status. 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 one that has a location in the show city so you can easily pick up the goods and avoid costly freight charges.
Other important tips:
Follow this expert advice to make sure your trade show promotional items get attention at the show and produce business results back at the office.