Peter Eberly, Director
Product and Vertical Marketing
We’ve all been there. Wandering a crowded trade show floor, gazing at booth after booth of vendors you might or might not need. Trade shows are famous for drawing in big brands to showcase their newest technology, their most innovative solutions, or latest products. What else are they famous (or maybe notorious) for? Trade show swag.
The promotional products industry had more than $17 billion in revenue in 2018, an increase of 2.4 percent over 2017. Much of that was spent on giveaways for trade shows and events. What happened to most of that swag? Unfortunately, a lot of it ended up in the trash.
Functional and high-quality swag stands out
According to “The Best (And Worst) Conference Swag” on Quartz.com, the best swag is free, useful, reusable “and – crucially – high quality.”
An ASI study found that most people retain trade show giveaways for about eight months. And, once users are finished with an item, they will often give it away. That means the item — depending on what it is — can be in a potential buyer’s hands for more than a year.
Choosing the best giveaways
So, what do you need to consider when choosing a giveaway for your trade show or event? Remember these tips:
- Provide something useful. How useful the item is drives the recipient’s perception of the brand/company and future impressions (whether they keep and continue to use the item so others see it). Another tip to consider: Many people collect giveaways to share with their children. Is there something you can offer for kids who may be at home?
- It should be aligned to the show or theme. If you are at a technology show, it makes sense to give a promotional technology product. Think of the entire show holistically (pre-show, at-show, post-show). Make sure your giveaways fit with the overall flow and company plan for the show.
- Choose giveaways that are personalized or can be personalized. For example, before one show, our team sent emails offering personalized phone cases to attendees. They had to stop by our booth to pick it up which provided the opportunity for a conversation. The more you can personalize, the better.
- Interesting and novel giveaways also are more likely to be held onto by attendees. Socks and digital swag like subscriptions or gift tokens are gaining in popularity. Leveraging nostalgia also can make a memorable impression on attendees.
Working with an experienced vendor with deep market knowledge can help you identify innovative ideas that will capture attention and create positive impressions and associations for your brand.