Tag Archives: Pre-show Mailing


Do you give away promotional items to visitors to your trade show booth?  If you do, what should you give?

It has become such a commonplace that “something” should be given out at a show that all too often just “anything” is.  In that case, it probably won’t do any good.

Let’s take a closer look.

First, why use promotional giveaways?

  • The obvious answer, first – they attract people to your booth
  • They reinforce your brand, products, or services in customers’ minds
  • They promote what you offer as an alternative to their current supplier
  • They promote goodwill
  • They can educate or inform about new products and services
  • They return with prospect to home or office to keep your message and your contact information in sight

Essential Rules of Giveaways

There are a few key points to remember when you select promotional items for your business or organization, whether for holiday thank you’s or as trade show giveaways.

The most successful giveaways should:

  • Be easily linked in your prospect’s mind to your product or service
  • Provide something that will be of value or interest to them
  • Do something clever or fun that will catch their eye or create goodwill

Next, let’s look at how to link your goals for a show with the items you select.

#1 Are you trying to get as many people as possible into your booth?

If your business is consumer oriented, uses a “mass marketing” business model, or is new and trying to introduce its products or services as widely as possible – you want high booth volume.

In this case, you need a giveaway that is generally well-received but not too expensive because of the quantities required.

Candy provides a strong draw, as do fun or interactive items. But remember, though these will get people in your booth – they won’t do anything in themselves to make them remember you. If your goal is simply to attract lots of people – to fill out a questionnaire or to hand a coupon, for instance, then you do not need an imprinted giveaway.

If your goal is to draw lots of people you plan to qualify further, though, you probably will want a second item, imprinted with your company’s brand or product information, to be given only to those who have qualified.

#2 Are you looking for a particular kind of prospect?

If your services or products are geared only to specific industries or individuals, then your goal is to find viable prospects without giving out a lot of costly gifts or spending too much time with inappropriate visitors.

An excellent way to have your prospects pre-qualify themselves is by offering something that matches their needs or interests, but has little appeal to others.

Provide a gift that your prospect will take and keep on hand long past the end of the show – but make sure it is clearly branded to keep your company name in your prospect’s mind or it is a waste of your money.

For example, once upon a time, I received a “Dogbert” stress toy at a show. I kept it for years because it was well targeted to my professional profile, in the software industry – but since it did not have a company name or logo, all those years of potential positive branding were lost to whoever decided to “save” on the expense of imprinting.

#3 Are you looking to reinforce relationships and promote your brand through increased product/service knowledge?

In this case, your promotional goal is to get specific information to current customers to motivate them to expand your relationship, say through an upgrade or add-on purchase. In addition, this is a situation in which you could clearly benefit from the planning and execution of a pre-show promotion.

A pre-show promotion works by advertising your involvement with the show in advance, to current customers and known prospects. This usually involves an enticement to bring them to your booth. If they bring the coupon you have sent or emailed them, or mention a particular offer number, for instance, they will receive a special gift.

A twist on this theme is to send part of a gift to them, with the remainder available at the show. An amazing percentage of people will arrive with half of their imprinted gift or puzzle piece, ready to receive the rest of the item. This may be the chance you have been waiting for to talk with specific high-profile prospects.

#4 Are you looking for increased name recognition?

An established vendor in a niche market might take a giveaway and add a spin to it to grab buzz at a show.

For instance, one manufacturer at a clothing industry show gave away hundreds of bright red shirts, along with raffle tickets. They offered a cash prize once an hour to someone spotted wearing the shirt in the convention hall.  Near the end of the show, they drew a raffle ticket for a new highend laptop.  To win, you had to be wearing your red shirt, of course!

This whole process was expensive – but by the end of the show there was close to 100% recognition of what had been a lesser player in that industry because by the final day of the show, there were literally hundreds of people wearing identical red shirts.

Who Will They Call?

If you consider your show goals and your target audience carefully, your giveaways can not only help get the right people into your booth, but also be kept long past the day of the show.

Promotional products that make it back to the office or to the home for use and/or viewing by your prospect have been shown to be associated not just with more “eyeballs” on your brand, but with increased likelihood of giving you a call, when the time is right, and your product or service is needed.

Should you use promotional products at trade shows?

Only you can decide if they make sense in your overall plan.  If budgets are tight, it’s far better to spend money on your booth and getting professional graphic design than to purchase “stuff” blindly.

If you use your giveaways as part of your strategy, they can help you reach and communicate with your prospects for a more successful trade show!