8 Tips for More Successful Trade Shows

  • Feb 13, 2007

Walk around any trade show and you will be able to collect a bag full of trade show promotional items all designed to promote business. Everyone enjoys receiving a gift. Gift giving creates a favorable impression. It can build goodwill, be an incentive, communicate a message, and create awareness. However, how many promotional gifts do an effective job?

If you're about to be on the other side as an exhibitor, you may want to consider the following 8 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game:

  1. Define Your Audience: Having a focused objective for your trade show promotion will also help you decide who should receive it. Consider having different gifts for various visitors. You might have different quality gifts for your key customers, prospects, and general passers by.
  2. Set Your Goal: What do you want to achieve by giving away a premium item? Trade show items should be designed to increase your recognition, communicate a message, motivate an action, or promote your small business. It's important not only that the message have an impact, but also the premium itself.
  3. Find the Right Item: There is a multitude of different items you could consider as a premium. However, which one will best suit your purpose? To select the right item, decide on your objective. Do you want it to enhance a theme, convey a specific message, or educate your target audience? Set a purpose to make your selection process easier. A promotional specialist can also help you make an effective selection. Remember your company image is reflected in whatever you choose to give away.
  4. Add Your Message: Is there an item that naturally complements your marketing message? Have the message imprinted on the item with your company name, logo, and phone number. If space allows, add a marketing slogan. An important aspect of any gift is to remember who it was from long after the fact.
  5. Set a Price: The price range for trade show gifts is enormous. Quality, quantity, and special orders all impact the price. Establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan. Consider ordering the same item for several different shows. The greater the quantity of your order, the lower the individual unit price.
  6. Establish Qualifiers: What must visitors do to qualify for a premium? There are several ways to use your trade show gift effectively:
    • as a reward for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation, or contest
    • as a token of your appreciation when visitors have given you qualifying information about their specific needs
    • as a thank you for stopping at the booth
  7. Use the Pre-qualifying Secret: Trade show gifts can be used to pre-qualify your prospects. One company uses playing cards. Prior to the show, they send “kings” to their key customers, “queens” to suppliers, and “jacks” to new or hot prospects. They request that the cards are brought to the booth in exchange for a special gift. When the cards are presented, the booth staff already knows certain information about the visitor. They can then act on their previous knowledge and use time with the visitor more productively.
  8. Have a Sales Incentive: Will your trade show premium directly help future sales? Hand out a discount coupon or a gift certificate requiring future contact with your company for redemption. Consider premiums that will help generate frequent visits to customers and prospects, such as calling you for free refills.

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