Giving Gifts at Trade Shows

How is a trade show exhibit like Christmas? Well, the same time and effort you put into your holiday shopping should also be put into the promotional giveaways you plan for your trade show exhibit. The best gifts under the tree are often the ones you least expect and are the most thoughtful. The same is true of trade show giveaways.

The same is true for trade show giveaways. You should spend at least half of your promotional planning time on brainstorming the best gifts for your visitors, leads, and customers. Think about the people you do business with, talk to your salespeople, sit down and brainstorm the sort of gifts your audience will most appreciate.

You likely wouldn’t buy the same gift for your ten-year-old as you’d buy for your great-aunt. For 2018, be sure to plan different promotional items for different show attendees. You should think about higher quality, higher value gifts for your customers and top leads, and more cost-effective items for other visitors. Brainstorm creative ways these gifts can work together. For example, you could gift your best customers/leads with bluetooth headphones, new high-quality leads with a bluetooth speaker, and your other visitors with earbuds.

We’ve all been there—you asked Santa for a snowboard (though you’ve never snowboarded a day in your life) you come downstairs in the wee hours on Christmas morning and there it is… the cheapest snowboard they had in stock!

Think about your budget, your visitors, and who you expect to see at the show, and plan your promotional spending accordingly. Don’t waste your money on cheap items that are going to be in the garbage next week, but don’t overspend on giveaways your customers don’t need (I never did take up snowboarding…)

Everyone needs socks, just like everyone needs pens. Except, a box full of socks on Christmas morning is not very memorable—just like giving away pens at a trade show. Avoid items that have been overdone, such as pens, water bottles, coffee mugs.

Full disclosure—branded socks are actually trending as a trade show giveaway. So while they may not make a great Christmas gift, they might be a great giveaway at your show!

My mother-in-law believes that a good Christmas means a huge pile of presents under the tree. Unfortunately, that usually means we spend the week after the holidays sorting through a garbage bag full of knick-knacks we have no use for, about two-thirds of which we end up giving to the Salvation Army.

A mountain of gifts under the tree may look great, but it’s only as good as the thought that goes into each gift. You don’t need to have a mountain of giveaways for every single person (and swag stalker) that pauses at your booth space. Spend your money wisely by saving useful, higher-quality giveaways for real leads.

Christmas parades and carols. Advent calendars. Holiday movies and TV specials. Gingerbread houses and craft sales. More than half of the excitement in the holiday season is the build-up, the pine-scented, candy-cane flavoured anticipation. Give your customers and leads a sneak peak at their ‘gifts’ by showcasing your high-quality giveaways in your pre-show promotion. Have them looking forward to visiting you because of what’s waiting for them under the tree in your booth.

After all the time, thought, and effort you’ve put into your gifts, the wrapping shouldn’t be an afterthought. Try to incorporate your brand and message into your giveaways as more than just a printed logo.

Tracey was telling me her kids wanted hover boards for Christmas. My first thought was, ‘what the heck is a hover board?’

At your next show, be sure to pay attention to what other exhibitors are giving away. What seems to be popular? Do some online searching—what’s trending? In 2018 we expect smart phone and digital accessories to continue to be the most popular giveaways. These include stands, smart wallets, cases, speakers and headphones, cable organizers, chargers, etc.

Higher quality items continue to be the expectation. Smart keychain items and fidgeters continue to be popular on the more cost-effective end, as well as drink coozies and USB sticks.

Following the ‘unplugging’ trend means that paper items like customized notepads, colouring books and pencil crayons will also be highly sought after. But most importantly, creativity in your items will always be the winner. Think outside the box and make your giveaways memorable!

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