Back to the Basics: Non-Tech Trade Show Giveaways People Will Actually Use

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Ah, the B2B trade show. If I close my eyes, I can almost smell the freshly assembled acrylic and vinyl, practically taste the weak coffee and branded breath mints. Go ahead, close your eyes, too, and listen for the muted clomp of high heels on convention center carpet and the din of 800 eager exhibitors pitching at once…

Still with me? If not, I’d understand – it’s nearly impossible to focus amidst the sensory extravaganza known as the B2B trade show. It’s loud. It’s colorful. And every booth is trying to top the booth next door. Considering the fact that some B2B brands spend up to 40 percent of their annual marketing budget on trade shows, it only makes sense that you feel a mild panic about making sure people come to your booth. Is technology the answer? Yes. And no.

Go tech wild – just not with your swag

Before you decide we’re outdated fuddy-duddies, let me say that there is absolutely a need for technology at the trade show (hello… lead capture apps, anyone?). Try using geo-fencing to serve attendees mobile ads while they are browsing the expo. Launching a new product? Create some serious buzz with top-notch VR product demos. Techy items like the Apple Watch Series 2 or the ever-popular Hoverboard make for hot raffle prizes if you want an “enter to win” hook at your booth. Oh, and as for email and social campaigns? I’m going to assume you’re doing it. And hashtagging the heck out of it. (If not, get on it!)

Give ‘em stuff they’ll actually use

However, when it comes to the freebies you stock your display table with, digital isn’t necessarily the way to go. Smart wallets – thin silicone pockets that attach to your phone – are cool in theory, but not necessarily something people will use… or want when it has some rando brand logo on it. Same goes for smartphone stands (who doesn’t already have enough junk on their desk that can serve the same purpose?). In reality, what you need your giveaway to do is as basic as what you need your brand to do:

  • Be helpful – Is it filling a need that already exists?
  • Have longevity – In terms of giveaways, this doesn’t mean permanence. It means they won’t throw it away with the fliers in their swag bag.
  • Start a conversation – Your giveaway lures them to your booth. Make the most of it with your pitch and lead capture.

Our top 5 giveaway picks

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If you can tie your giveaway directly to your brand or featured product, that’s a plus. Our client DeBeer Refinish sure painted a pretty brand picture when they handed out yummy candy apples to promote the brand’s new breakthrough red toner… for that sweet candy finish. If you don’t have anything obvious (or delicious!) to leverage, check out our favorite non-tchotchke giveaway ideas:     

  1. Fruit infuser water bottles – This idea is twofold. First, attendees will flock to your booth for refreshing fruit waters to get them through the long day. Second, infusion bottles provide a very handy takeaway for healthy beverages… and branding!

  2. Tide to Go® sticks – I like to assume most people, deep down, are like me, i.e. a hot mess. A Tide to Go stick, complete with your logo, is easy to carry and mega-practical (especially with all the happy hours full of free drinks and snacks begging to be spilled).

  3. Umbrellas – Sounds boring, right? But people break them and lose them easily, and it sucks big time being stuck without one when you need it. Save your potential client from a torrential downpour, and they may get curious about how else you can save them.

  4. Fidget spinners – Or whatever the kids are playing with these days. Many attendees have traveled and are away from their kiddos for several days. They will be drawn to items they can pass off as souvenirs. Plush toys, decks of cards and portable silverware sets are also in this category. (Side note: am I the only one who abhors packing school lunches?)

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  5. T-shirts (good ones) – Let me make this painfully clear. No one wants a t-shirt with your logo on it, besides maybe your mom. However, if you put a cool graphic or clever saying on it, they will come. Just don’t forget to tastefully place your logo and url on the sleeve or back.

Need help brainstorming for your next trade show? Holler at us. We’re happy to help.

What’s the best giveaway you’ve ever snagged at a trade show? Is there a certain item that makes you cringe? Let us know in the comments!

 

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