If you’ve ever walked the floor of a trade or consumer show, you know how easy it is to collect multiple giveaway items, all or which are designed to promote a business. However, how many giveaways really do an effective job? How clearly do they get a message across? Is the message sufficiently visible? Is the giveaway useful or unique enough that you would want to keep and even use it?

The Problem

The problem is that most exhibitors don’t really know what to give, and why they’re giving it, which results in giving away the same old stuff as everyone else, such as pens, notepads, or candy. Alternatively, there are giveaways that are often so cute that they end up in the kid’s toy box. These are great items to attract those show vultures who wander the aisles looking for freebies. These don’t serve the real purpose a giveaway.

The Real Purpose

The real purpose of your giveaway item is as a memento so that visitors easily remember you, your products or services and your company long after they’ve left your exhibit … and the show. You could compare it to a souvenir you might buy while on vacation, as a way of being reminded of the good times you had. You also want to use them to entice prospects to come and visit your exhibit. In this way you can use them as a reward or token of appreciation for visitors participating in a demonstration, presentation or contest, or as a thank-you for their time and the qualifying information they shared about their specific needs. In other words, once you’ve had a meaningful conversation with them, you thank them with a small gift. Used this way, your giveaway becomes the foundation for engagement. It creates the possibility for developing a deeper relationship with your prospects and customers.

Developing a powerful giveaway takes thought and creativity. Apply this 18-point checklist to dramatically improve the effectiveness of your trade show giveaways:

  1. Define your objectives for your trade show giveaway.
  2. Consider how you will select your giveaway item.
  3. Plan who should receive the item.
  4. Decide what promotional message/slogan you want to convey.
  5. Decide how your premium item should tie-in to your marketing theme.
  6. Plan how your premium item will complement your exhibiting goals.
  7. Allocate a realistic budget to achieve your objectives.
  8. Consider having your giveaway be original and relate to your business.
  9. Make sure that it is appealing and appropriate for your target audience.
  10. Make it a useful item if you want people to keep and use it.
  11. Consider what benefits your visitors get from this gift.
  12. Gauge the item’s appeal by asking if you would like to receive it and what you would do with it.
  13. Make sure that the item projects the company image you want your target audience to receive.
  14. Make a plan for distributing your item.
  15. Decide who will receive the item – every visitor or only to a select group.
  16. Decide what visitors need do to qualify to receive a gift item.
  17. Plan how you will inform your target audience about your giveaway item.
  18. Organize a system to measure the effectiveness of your giveaway.