Tag Archives: Marketing

What’s Up? Tradeshow Giveaways – New Promo Product Ideas

I’m always on the lookout for new and different ideas for tradeshow giveaways and client gifts.  Here’s a few that caught my eye at a recent trade show geared to sellers of promotional products (also known as ad specialties).  For variety, they include tech, kitchen and pet based ideas.

Tech Promotional Gift Ideas

OK, no surprise, these get a lot of my attention because many of our clients are techy and/or sell to techies.  Plus I’m a geek myself from way back when.

  • Phone Holders

The Griptyte Stand holds up any smartphone or mp3 player, without magnets, at a great angle for reading or glancing at on your desk, and has a nice sized message area.

The idea is not new, but many existing products are cheesy, in my opinion.   This stand works great on my desk.  I predict these will be kept and used.

  • Headphones, speakers and docks.

Also not a new category.

But I like that everything is getting more compact, less pricey, and frankly easier to carry around or use.

  • Styluses

Actually I saw some styluses at the show, but our favorite is the one we just did for a longtime manufacturing client of ours. So I’m showing it.

Dual function design means you get a “capacitive” side that works with all touch screens including phones and tablets, and on the other end, a traditional stylus for PDAs or for IRL keyboards.

  • Tablet holders with built-in keyboards

This one grabbed my eye even though it would be more likely to be a raffle prize than a giveaway at a tradeshow, based on its price.

It  would also make an awesome gift for a client, important prospect or sales person.  They’re never going to throw it out.  Unless someone else already gave them one already.

Office Products

  • Really big highlighters.

Nowhere near as sexy as tech.   I thought these huge highlighters were a fun idea any way.

If you have prospects or clientele that need ’em and don’t want to lose ’em, these 8 inch-long highlighters will definitely stand out, be used, and keep your message front and center.

Kitchen Products for Promos?  (Really? Yes, really.)

In talking to one of our long-time vendors – they sell the best pizza cutter in existence – we got reminded that people have been hunkering down in their kitchens lately and do a lot more home cooking.

  • The World’s Best Pizza Cutter

Gifts for the kitchen don’t have to cost a lot, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll be kept and used where they’ll be seen often.

I’m showing the latest incarnation of the greatest pizza cutter in the world, but we also sell a lot of corkscrews, wine bottle caps and … You get the idea.

Pet Products – Another “Sticky” Category

Pet products is a fairly new category of product for the promotional market.

  • Paw-shaped Pet Food Scoop with Clip

We all know how much people spend on their pets these days. With that in mind – how likely are they to toss out a gift that could make Fido or Fifi’s life more comfortable or less time-consuming for themselves?

Pictured here:  paw shaped pet food scoop with 1 cup capacity that also tightly seals pet food bags with a clip.

Interested in more ideas?

Search for More Tradeshow Giveaway Ideas

We have two search options for you:

Example categories: Tech, Trade Show, Green and Holiday Products.


You’re always welcome to give us a call and we’ll help you develop or track down a great idea.  Tell us your target audience, your industry and your theme or message, plus a budget and a quantity.


Related topics:





Branding Ideas from Marketing Guru

I recently attended The Women’s Breakfast for Champions, a networking program for Women Business Owners held by SCORE.

Branding and marketing expert Liz Goodgold of REDfire Branding spoke.  She provided a handful of actionable steps to increase personal branding for owners of service businesses, but anyone who networks could take advantage of her pointers.

She started with the premise that what we want is to create “flawless remembering” by those we meet, of who we are and what we offer.  We achieve that through what we do, in our word choices and behaviors. We create memorability through uniqueness, attitude, catch phrases or vocabulary, and providing an easy way to remember our name.  In her case, she introduces herself as Liz Goodgold, as in “as good as gold” – which has, quite literally, been how I have been able to easily recall her name.

Catch phrases and unique style or actions create an indelible memory. Who doesn’t associate “it’s a good thing” or “how’s that working for you?” with specific TV personalities?

In fact, all great brands must be unique – there is something about them that is like no other. If one brand reminds us of another, there is a dilution, when “mindshare” starts to leak into “marketshare”.

Three women helped make her case, by acting out celebrity branding – a Joan Rivers, an Adele and an Angelina Jolie were able to convey who they were easily through visual, auditory and attitude cues.

Liz’ comment that “if you cannot be imitated, you are not a brand” made a great deal of sense for individuals.  It is a bit of a puzzle, considering if this is equally true for B2B businesses and their marketers.

The morning ended with the tabletop exhibitors introducing themselves to the other breakfast attendees, with most attempting to find a new unique expression of their personal or business branding.


Marketing Pros Share Top Marketing, Tech & Business Sources

What do other marketing professionals read when they are looking for input, advice and inspiration?

This question occurred to me one day, while reading one of my own favorite industry magazines. On the one hand, I wanted to share the good read I was enjoying — and I also wondered if there were other great resources I didn’t about know myself.

So I decided to ask on LinkedIn.  I received a multitude of answers because I asked in a lot of different groups. (I’m still listening, if you have favorite links to relevant magazine or blogs.)

Entries marked by * were the ones that stood out with more votes. Otherwise, I am using alphabetical order.

Business magazines

Business Week*: http://www.businessweek.com
The Economist: http://www.economist.com
Entrepreneur: http://www.entrepreneur.com
Fast Company*: http://www.fastcompany.com
Harvard Business Review*: http://hbr.org
Inc: http://www.inc.com
McKinsey Quarterly*: http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com
Wall Street Journal*: http://online.wsj.com


Design Observer: http://www.designobserver.com
Smashing Magazine: http://www.smashingmagazine.com

Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing IQ: http://www.directmarketingiq.com
Direct Marketing News*: http://www.dmnews.com
Target Marketing Magazine: http://www.targetonline.com

Exhibiting (Trade Shows) & Events

Exhibitor Magazine*: http://www.exhibitoronline.com
MeetingsNet: http://meetingsnet.com
Successful Meetings: http://www.successfulmeetings.com

Mixed Marketing, Advertising and PR

AdAge: http://adage.com
AdWeek: http://www.adweek.com
B to B Magazine*: http://www.btobonline.com
Marketing Sherpa*: http://www.marketingsherpa.com
MarketingProfs*: http://www.marketingprofs.com


American Demographics: http://adage.com/americandemographics
Psychology Today*: http://www.psychologytoday.com
Response Magazine: http://www.responsemagazine.com
Urban Daddy: http://www.urbandaddy.com


CIO: http://www.cio.com
Computer World: http://www.computerworld.com
BusinessWeek Technology: http://www.businessweek.com/technology
InformationWeek: http://www.informationweek.com
TechCrunch*: http://techcrunch.com
Mashable*: http://www.mashable.com
Software Magazine: http://www.softwaremag.com
VentureBeat: http://venturebeat.com

Technology Marketing

It Marketing World: http://itmarketingworld.com
UBM Techweb: http://createyournextcustomer.techweb.com

Web Marketing / SEO / SEM

eMarketer*: http://www.emarketer.com/blog
Internet Retailer: http://www.internetretailer.com
SEO Mash (RSS feeds): http://seomash.com
Website Magazine: http://www.websitemagazine.com

Misc. Blogs

Bob Bly Copywriter: http://bly.com/blog
CopyBlogger: http://www.CopyBlogger.com
The Daily SEO Blog: http://www.seomoz.org/blog
Marketing Pilgrim: http://www.marketingpilgrim.com
Outspoken Media Blog: http://outspokenmedia.com/blog
Seth Godin’s Blog*: http://sethgodin.typepad.com
Six Pixels of Separation: http://www.twistimage.com/blog
Social Media Examiner*: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com
Startups: http://topblogs.onstartups.com

I’d like to thank contributors which include, to-date:

Aron Smith, Bhalchandra Pai, Bob McCarthy, Brian Bearden, Bruce D. Maki, Chad Barr, Chip Monroe, Christine Hueber, Corinne Speckert, David Schwartz, Dharmesh Shah, Dinesh Rãmkrishna, Filiberto Amati, John Groth, Ken Heun, Louis Camassa, Michael Bower, Michele Kastner, Mike Jones, Mike Klassen, Patrick J Mullen, Peter O’Neill, Peter T. Britton, Randy Zeitman, Sarah Nelson, Sherbrooke Balser, Susan Fantle, Unmana Datta

Note: while all ideas were checked out, a few were not included.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & events.


You Want My What Code? (PMS, RGB & CMYK Color Systems)

RGB, CMYK, and PMS – Trying to Capture Color in a Code

If you tell me you want a green table throw, a green backdrop, or even a green logo — how will I know which color you mean?   Even if you give me a standard description, like “Kelly Green”, how can you be sure you will get the color you want?

How can we be sure we reproduce the color you’re expecting?

What we need is to define colors using a system that can be communicated and then used and re-used consistently.

The way this is done is with codes.  As it turns out though, we need more than one way to describe color.

There’s one set of codes used for when dealing with images carried by light (TV or computer monitor), another for printing, and another entirely when we’re dealing with “spot” imprinting on t-shirts.

These codes are called RGB, CMYK, and PMS.   Each of these is important for different marketing projects.  We run into a fair amount of confusion on the meanings and uses of these codes, so I thought I’d give a basic tutorial here.  I’m not a graphic artist, however, so my definitions and examples are definitely based in the products used in tradeshow displays and event products.

RGB (Red, Green, and Blue)

RGB stands for Red Green and Blue.  If we mix – i.e. overlap – light of these three colors, we will get white light.  You might remember seeing a demonstration of this on a trip to a science museum.

Colors which when you add them together get lighter are called “additive colors”.  By defining how “bright” each of these colors is, on a scale from 0 to 255, you can “add” them together to get different colors.  (255,0,0) is pure Red, (0,255,0) is Green.

RGB codes cannot be used to define and reproduce all colors, only those that can be created by “adding” these three colors together.

An enhanced version of RGB coding is used for computer monitors, television screens and other electronic devices which are “colored” by means of rays of light.

Have you ever experienced surprise when your printer prints a “different color” than what you see on your monitor?  Or discovered your company website colors look different on your home computer monitor?  It’s because one issue with RGB is the codes are not device-independent.  The same code combination on one device will NOT look exactly the same on another device.

Also, if your graphic artist is most familiar with designing for computer websites, they may naturally try to provide you graphic codes for your logo using RGB.  These codes are not useful for the printing processes used for the paper, vinyl, or fabric materials used in trade show and event products.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) – also known as Process Color or “4 color printing”

You can create a wide range of colors by using different combinations of the colors cyan, magenta and yellow.  Adding these three colors mixed together in equal amounts creates a color near black; these are called the three subtractive primaries.  Including true black as a fourth color gives you a more realistic result.

With CMYK printing, a series of dots are printed, in layers, of each of these colors with the net result creating a complete picture.  This is often called “process color” or “four color” printing.

It’s actually possible to add more standard color dots to create a wider range of final color, so you will sometimes see “six color” or “eight color” printing.  For instance, by breaking cyan into light cyan and dark cyans, and the same with magenta, you will have “six color” printing, which allows your printer to produce yet more realistic color.

Process color is used for printing photographs and graphic images.   Because it can reproduce complex colored images, including shading, gradients, and drop shadows  – it is often referred to as “full color” processing/

If you’ve ever seen a picture where one of the plates used for printing is off, even a little bit (perhaps — back in the day — on the funny pages of a newspaper) you know  how much this process depends on exact alignment to create the effect using the mix of colors.

In the tradeshow and events world, digital printing or dye sublimation (which both use process color/CMYK) are typically used for your display graphics, whether they are printed on vinyl, solid substrate or fabric material.

Spot Color Printing Using the Pantone Matching System (aka PMS codes)

With spot color, a precisely pre-mixed color of ink is directly applied to the paper or fabric material.  This allows the use of a relatively exact color which can be replicated time after time.  PMS Codes are normally used when a small number of precisely defined colors are needed.

Spot colors are used to replicate logos consistently.  They cannot be used for artwork with gradients, shading, or drop shadows.

The most common system used to define spot colors is the Pantone Matching System a.k.a. PMS codes.  Pantone(R) provides a system for carefully calibrating colors across a wide range of printing processes and printing machinery.

Sometimes both Spot and Process are used together — for instance on company brochures or catalogs – when precise colors are needed for logos, and a wider range of colors are needed to represent the company’s products.

Examples in the tradeshow and events world include screenprinted items such as T-shirts and table throws, and padprinted promotional items.

As confusing as it is, you will sometimes be asked for your “PMS numbers” even when working in a medium that does not use them – i.e. CMYK digital printing.  This is to provide a “sync up” point, to try to get certain especially important colors (i.e. for your logo) using the more universal system, in order to get as close a match as possible, within the limits of the other systems.

Conversion Between Color Codes

It is not possible to convert precisely between these different color code systems.

Sometimes a piece of art prepared according to one of these color-coded systems must be used on a project which requires a different code.  It is rarely possible to make a direct match between these code systems.

This is why you will sometimes see “close PMS matching only”  on a product description — for instance, when your logo is being printed digitally (using CMYK or 4 color processing).

Of course, our production artists are trained and work hard to make as close a match as possible so your marketing materials and tradeshow products will work together, but there are limits to what we can do.


Occasionally we find that a graphic artist you have hired —  who typically works on one type of project which uses one kind of color code — is not familiar with the others.  They may  try insist that we should be able to use what they provide.  Now you will know better!

You should now be better prepared to understand why a particular project we’re working on for you requires your artwork to be prepared in a particular manner.  Less mystery for you and we can work with you more easily to get the results you are looking for!



Tip of the Iceberg

Are you new to tradeshows or having a tough time getting the results you’re looking for?

Success starts with understanding one key secret: the time spent at the show is only the tip of the iceberg.  Success or failure depends on what you do after and – especially – before the show.

Exhibitors with poor results often rely solely on the at-show efforts of their booth staff – often poorly trained and ill-prepared – to make a show a success.  They make the mistake of confusing logistics administration with true strategic planning.  They blame the exhibition management for not bringing in enough of the right prospects, or the economy, or the booth design.   Worse yet, they sometimes decide that “trade shows don’t work” and give up rather than learn how to succeed.

Great results can be had, in almost any situation, with proper planning, preparation and support, based on a clearly defined set of goals.

And since successful tradeshow exhibiting allows you to introduce yourself to new markets and new prospects, solidifies relationships with existing customers, and speeds up your sales cycle with prospects, planning correctly is well worth the time and effort.

High Level or Annual Planning

Planning for individual shows will be easiest if there is an annual marketing plan which includes an overall tradeshow plan, even at a high level.  Fortunately, you can create a good individual plan on its own, which can be used later to start an overall plan.

A high level plan:
– sets a consistent overall strategy
– helps you evaluate specific opportunities for fit
– suggests how & when different marketing approaches can reinforce each other
– creates a consistent framework for evaluating results
– saves time in preparing for individual shows

Tradeshow Planning: Setting Strategic Objectives vs Logistics Management

“Tradeshow planning” is often confused with handling the logistics of the show: budgets, deadlines, and the “stuff” involved whether it is the booth, the clothes, or the giveaways.

Preparing for the logistics is critical.  And costly if done incorrectly  – it only takes one show with missed deadlines, and rush charges for everything  from production to shipping to show services, to make this point clear.  This planning and tracking is often handed to someone who is good at handling details, which is appropriate.

However – the single most critical aspect of planning for a successful tradeshow is – to borrow a well known idea – to start with the end in mind.  (Thank you Dr Covey, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”)

The key is being clear about – and keeping a laser-like focus on – your business objectives, target audience, branding, strategies for implementing each objective, and ways to measure results.   All show preparations must be geared towards achieving these goals.

Meet the deadlines, of course.  But start at the beginning, with a plan to succeed.

An individual (or marketing campaign-level) tradeshow plan:

  • Sets specific business objectives to be met, aligned with overall strategic goals
  • Defines target audience, including demographics and key pain/purchase points
  • Clearly identifies tactics, goals and measurements for each objective
  • Establishes a budget and ROI rationale
  • Sets up a timeline including planning, logistics, marketing and promotional efforts, staff preparation to support goals, etc.
  • Provides a clear evaluation process

Let’s look briefly at each of these topics.

Business Objectives for Tradeshows

In the long run, tradeshows are all about building your business.  That may mean generating sale-ready leads, and it may not.  There are many ways to use tradeshows to support your business or organization.

Trade Shows Can Be Used To:

  • Generate quality leads
  • Reinforce existing relationships
  • Strengthen company, product or brand awareness
  • Reach the media or provide input for blog
  • Announce or measure interest in new products or services
  • Perform competitive analysis
  • Find vendors / potential partners
  • Use as “because” to contact customers, prospects and dormant leads

Target Audience

You need to specifically who you will be targeting at each show.  This is because your marketing message – the one that will move you towards your selected objective – must be based on the needs and interests of your target audience.    It’s all about WIIFM – “what’s in it for me”.  If you don’t know who, how can you direct your message?

You want your booth to be designed in a way that reaches out to the right people, filters out the others, and starts a conversation.  This is why one of the very first things we ask for when we prepare to design a tradeshow display is “who do you need to reach – at this show”.

Tactics, Goals and Measurement

“Build sales” is not helpful as an objective.

“Build sales by setting appointments” – that is actionable and measurable.  You can train your booth staff how to qualify attendees, how much to say in the booth, and when to move to “make a sale” of an appointment time.  If you’re handing out gifts, to know the correct moment to present them.   You can decide how to lay out your booth based on this goal.  You can determine how to word your marketing collaterol.

And before the show?  This goal now leads to specific pre-show tactics like promotional mail or email, offering them an opportunity to meet you in person.

Here’s a few things you can measure already in this scenario:

  • How many invited prospects came
  • How many additional people were attracted by other at-show activities
  • How many signed up for appointments
  • The results of those appointments
  • The number and size of sales resulting

Of course, setting appointments may not be the next step from a show for your business.  What is?  Select your objective, then determine what needs to happen before the show, at the show and afterwards to make it happen.

Know your objectives, set up tactics, make them measurable, and focus your efforts based on these.


There is a lot to juggle in preparing for one show, never mind if you have a series of shows.  You need to read and understand the show book, with its rules and deadlines.  Preparing a project plan with milestones and deadlines, is not a bad idea.  You may need to “rent” this service from your tradeshow provider, or you may be able to keep it in-house by getting the most organized person on your staff to keep track and pay attention when they say a deadline is looming.

Some of our tips can be found here:  TRADE SHOW PLANNING – A TIMELINE FOR SUCCESS


You need to evaluate every show.   Evaluate based on the objectives you set, for effectiveness.  Also evaluate your staff on how well they met their individual goals, and ask for their input on what could have been done better in preparing them, in setting up and executing on your plan.

The essence of a plan is to take a good look at how events can support the major corporate objectives, who will be reached, how and when, with what budget and in order to reach what measurable results.

Need help starting, thinking through, or implementing your plan?  We’d be happy to help.


Deborah Elms is CEO and head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses, non-profit organizations and associations create and retain customers through the effective use of tradeshows & events.