Marketing Idea #83: Tradeshow Giveaways

Marketing Ideas Tradeshow Giveaways

The best and most obvious reason for visiting some tables at trade shows is for the free giveaways. You will find that many people will make the rounds to collect the free stuff. In some cases, the booths without free giveaways may experience lower traffic as a result. It’s a cheap ploy, but the right giveaway can gain you exposure you wouldn’t have had without it. Of course, you have to question the quality of your traffic if it’s only coming over to steal another one of those great metal pens…

Tip: Have fun with your giveaways! After all, if it’s really good, it will likely end up in the hands of their kids.


 

10 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game

by Susan Friedmann

Walk around any trade show and you will be able to collect a bag full of trade show giveaway 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 giveaways do an effective job?

Before jumping into the trade show giveaway game consider the following 10 ways to master the tradeshow giveaway game:

Define Your Audience: Having a focused objective for your trade show giveaway 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.

Set Your Goal: What do you want to achieve by giving away a premium item? Trade show giveaway 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.

Find the Right Item: There is a multitude of different items you could consider as a premium giveaway. 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.

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. An important aspect of any gift is to remember who it was from long after the fact.

Set a Price: The price range for trade show giveaway items 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.

Establish Qualifiers: What must visitors do to qualify for a giveaway item? There are several ways to use your trade show giveaway 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

Use the Pre-qualifying Secret: Trade show giveaways 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.

Have a Sales Incentive: Will your trade show giveaway 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.

Inform Your Target Audience: Novel trade show giveaways can actively help to draw prospects to your booth. Make sure your prospects know about it. Send a tickler invitation with details of the giveaway, or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects prior to the show and telling them to collect the other half at your booth.

Have a Tracking Mechanism: Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your trade show giveaways.

If it is a redemption item, code it so that you know it resulted from the show. Post-show follow-up could include a question about the premium: Did visitors remember receiving it, and how useful was the item? After the trade show, critique your giveaways with your exhibit team:

  • Did it draw specific prospects to the booth?
  • Was it eye-catching enough to persuade passers by to stop?
  • Did your customers find it useful?
  • Did it project the right corporate image?

There are plenty of exciting trade show giveaways for you to choose from to avoid the usual pens, pencils, and key chains. Make your premium work for you by applying the 10 ways to master your trade show giveaways and experience show success…it will be money well invested.


Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, is The Tradeshow Coach, and author of “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,” working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and training. For a free copy of “10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make”, e-mail article4 (at) thetradeshowcoach.com, or visit her website www.thetradeshowcoach.com.

Rebuttal: Free Samples

Marketing Ideas Free Samples

In response to Seth Godin’s “Free Samples” post, May 11, 2012:

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Free samples

It bothers me to watch the hordes at the farmer’s market, swooping in to each booth, grabbing a sample and walking away. The thin slices of handmade rye bread, or the perfect strawberries or the little glasses of juice—all of them disappear into the hands of people who have no intention of buying.

Sure, someone stops and buys now and then, which is why the farmers keep offering the samples. To them, it’s merely a cost of doing business, a relatively inexpensive way to keep prospective customers coming. I’m not sure I could do it—the people afraid to look me in the eye, all that slinking around, and most of all, the profits walking out the door, over and over again. Enough thin slices makes a loaf.

This is vexing, even to someone who merely makes ideas. Watching people sneak endless tastes with no intention of making a purchase—sometimes I gasp at the audacity.

The distinction in the digital world is profound. In the digital world, the more free samples you give away, the better you do. The miserly mindset that afflicts the merchant watching inventory walk out the door at the market is counterproductive in the digital world. That’s because more free samples cost you nothing.

The scarce resources in the connection revolution are connection, attention and trust, not molecules, atoms or strawberries.

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Free Sample Double-Take

While I see great value in most of Seth Godin’s marketing ideas, I will respectfully cry foul on this one. I would have placed this comment on his blog, however—at the time of this writing—Mr. Godin has turned the commenting feature off. Curious, for someone who reports engagement is a primary vehicle for building a trusting, loyal following?

People are People

Though I agree things may be different in the digital world, I would also say the contrast is not so stark. People are people, no matter where we draw the lines on a map, and no matter whether that map is of the real or digital world. In fact, free samples probably work just as well in the flesh; they simply exhibit different properties.

Let’s Compare

Yes, your reach is broader online. You can reach anyone with a computer and an Internet connection (so long as they can find you.) This means greater volume, greater exposure, and—hopefully—greater opportunity for sales. It also means greater exposure to vultures and trolls. In the digital world, your free samples can be snapped up by people who never read them, or worse, repackage them as their own. C’est la vi.

Marketing Ideas Free SampleIn the real world, free samples also entice—same as their online counterparts. Accepting a free sample in the real world carries less anonymity, however. In a crowded farmer’s market, you can’t use a fictitious name or a junk email address to grab that succulent sample; you or your minions (maybe you send in your child, eh?) must get close enough to the purveyor to risk being greeted. As a shop owner, immediately your connection is stronger and your ability to engage the potential customer (face-to-face) is dramatically increased.

The same time and effort that went into crafting that piece of digital brilliance may also be the same time and effort that went into crafting that bread. Sure, digital assets can be downloaded and reproduced over and over. It’s the “do it once, replicate over and over” model. Yet, while many of us don’t need the latest, greatest marketing book, we all need to eat. Now we’re moving into differences in product selection, which has precious little to do with whether free samples work in the real world (which they do.)

Example: Used car dealerships employ a variation of the free sample concept all the time. Have you ever test-driven a car but needed to get buy-in from your spouse or parents before signing your life away? Has the salesperson ever told you to take the car home overnight to get a feeling for it? That’s known as the “puppy dog close” and it works wonderfully. The “free sample” is in the chance to try the vehicle on, wear it and show it off. The dealership is banking (literally) on you becoming emotionally bonded with the vehicle. The more connection you feel to that vehicle, the more likely you will adopt it and the sizable loan or lease that accompanies it.

Afterglow

Maybe Mr. Godin was simply searching for something to critique so he could segue into his final point about connection, attention and trust. He obviously must understand the ancient, time-proven concept of free samples, even though he finds himself “vexed” and “gasping” at the “audacity” of it all.

What about you? Do you believe free samples work? Have you used them in your own business? Have they compelled you to buy more yourself?

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Reference

Godin, S. Free Samples. Retrieved from http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/05/free-samples.html on 05/11/2012.