Giveaways and freebies are a tradeshow tradition.
If you have a hot giveaway item, people will go out of their way to find your booth. But if your giveaways are lackluster, you're going to have to work to convince people that your exhibit deserves more than a passing glance.
From a business owner's perspective, tradeshow swag is expensive. But here's what you need to consider: You're not giving anything away for free. You're entering into a business transaction with every person that agrees to take home a giveaway item. They get the merchandise, and you get the opportunity to place your company's name and contact info into their everyday lives. That's the deal.
So when it comes to tradeshow giveaways, the trick is to maximize the benefit your company receives from the giveaway transaction.
- Nothing for free. There's nothing wrong with making a contact work for a good giveaway item. If you're giving away something that's a cut above everyone else's swag, it's perfectly acceptable to require people to fill out a contact form or turn in a business card. By the time you leave, you'll have a list of contacts filled with people who already have a favorable impression of your business.
- Give away useful items. Do you know what people do with useless items? They throw them away – which is exactly what you'll be doing with your hard-earned cash unless you invest it in giveaways that have a useful purpose. The more useful the swag, the more thoroughly your contacts will integrate it (and your company name) into their daily lives. Your giveaway's useful purpose doesn't have to relate to your company's mission in order to be effective. It just has to be useful for your target market. So a hardware store can give away a wallet wine guide, but only if the hardware store owner is sure that his customers appreciate a good Merlot.
- Don't go too cheap. The quality of your giveaway is a direct reflection on the quality of your products and your company. You might sell the highest quality machine parts in the industry, but if you're giving away pens that write poorly, people are going to leave with the impression that your parts are shoddy and your company is headed for bankruptcy.
- Be unique. Pay attention to what other people are giving away so you'll know what not to give away at your next tradeshow. If you can make your giveaway unique, you will have a better chance of standing out in people's minds after they leave the event.