No Freebies For You!
Promotional products help you advertise your business, but you can’t expect to get satisfactory results from personalizing random items and simply setting them on your trade show exhibit. Whether you want to believe it or not, there are proper ways and improper ways to distribute your trade show promo items and your marketing efforts will suffer if you go about things the wrong way. You still have to work for attendees’ attention if you use promotional items, and it’s best to tailor your giveaways toward each specific audience. Always come up with a plan that will attract potential customers to your booth and then engage them in conversation before handing them one of your promotional products!
How do you maximize the effectiveness of your company’s promotional products at trade shows? First of all—before you even consider ordering any merchandise with your logo on it—conduct thorough research on the trade show you’re planning to attend. What is the primary audience of that particular trade show? What products do you think would interest that audience? Attendees at an antique car show will probably prefer a muscle cars calendar or a snazzy keychain over a pedometer, just like participants of a travel or tourism trade show will probably be more interested in luggage tags than they will be in a mouse pad. Educate yourself about your target audience before you spend the money on personalized products that could end up being a massive flop! Also, you should give people a reason (besides the appeal of “free stuff”) to want what you’re giving them; offer an exclusive discount or coupon along with your promotional products and double the chances that you’ll hear from those attendees after the show.
It’s also wise to come up with a way to gain attendees’ contact information instead of counting on them to call you on their own. To accomplish this, organize a drawing and offer bigger-ticket promotional products (like electronics, gift cards, or watches) as prizes in addition to your less expensive giveaway items. Require attendees to enter the drawing by writing their names, phone numbers, and/or email addresses on a slip of paper, and then you’ll have the means to contact them about doing business with your company after the show is over. Or, instead of the drawing, you can start an email newsletter with special offers and encourage attendees to sign up on the list to qualify for them.
Second of all—after you’ve successfully analyzed the expected attendees and their interests—figure out how you’ll draw prospective customers to your booth by using your promotional products. As previously mentioned, it’s not a good idea to just spread your items on a table and watch attendees from a distance as they come up and take them. Don’t stand back and wait for people to come to you! The key chains or t-shirts you’re giving away might be the best that money can buy, but you have to interact with people if you want them to remember you; otherwise, they’ll get your promo item home and forget all about who you are and what you do (if they even knew that in the first place). Try this: stand front-and-center in your booth, make eye contact with passersby, greet them, briefly tell them how you can help them, and THEN hand them one of the items you personalized. That way, attendees will walk away with a positive impression and they’ll remember that impression every time they use the giveaway item you distributed! Also, this strategy makes it more difficult for freebie-hoarding attendees to snatch up all of your merchandise before you can actually use it to promote yourself to interested clients.
Third of all—and very importantly—don’t think your work is done once you’ve analyzed, customized, and socialized your way through a successful trade show. What does that mean? It means that you need to follow up! If you managed to collect a hefty stack of potential customer names and phone numbers or email addresses, then use them to express your gratitude. A brief “thank you” phone call or email a week or two after the trade show will reinforce your company’s image, remind people that you’re committed to assisting them with their needs, and make that colorful stress ball or tote bag you gave them THAT much more effective.