Saturday, December 13, 2014

Promotional Items and Trade Shows

Promotional Items Attract Quality Leads At Trade Shows and Conferences.

Trade Shows are hard work. One of the hardest working contributors to B-to-B Trade Shows are "Cheap and Cheerful" promotional items. When used properly, carefully selected promotional give-aways boost lead counts and grow the number of quality leads produced from an exhibition, conference, or other industry event. You’ll get more visitors to your booth at minimal cost, expand your potential prospect contact list, and out-perform your competitors.

Well chosen promotional items are eye-candy and provide an element of entertainment. No matter how busy or how important a delegate walking down your exhibit aisle is, promotional items will get their attention.  These lowly "cheap and cheerful" booth workers are often noticed well before people pay attention to your carefully designed booth. Delegates and prospects are people, and people love novelties and freebies.

Deciding what promotional item to order can take some thought and deliberation. Choose items which fit the venue and focus of the conference. It's easy to keep costs under control, just don't go low quality or boring. In other words, cheap or boring give-aways which break or quickly stop working are worse than having nothing at all. Avoid branded items which are eaten or consumed (such as gum or candy). Better to give them something that has function or is 'fun' and a conversation starter. When people show other people their new company branded 'toy', you've won. Think out of the box.

At one key conference and exhibition, for example, we stopped VIP senior execs dead in their tracks with our 'secret weapon', a cleverly themed promotional item which fit the event perfectly. These men and women manage, own, and lease significant assets and usually would ignore the booths around them while engaged in their deep conversations. They would have strolled right by us with barely a look had we not put on the exhibit table our clever promotional item... and that is how we met many of these key contacts. They wanted multiple samples too.... for their kids, grand-kids, people in their office, and themselves.

Hard Working Booth Staff.
The promotional item created a face-to-face opportunity to meet, greet, and give them our slate of services and created golden opportunities with significant new potential accounts. These inexpensive company-logo give-aways will be happily found in their homes and offices…. providing great brand exposure for us. Call it "In-House Advertising". Needless to say, our global manager for that business niche now insists we have these giveaways on duty at his major worldwide trade-show events.

At another key European conference for another business line I used the same strategy, once again tailoring an inexpensive but eye-catching give-away item to the event. One of the country managers had been very skeptical of trade shows and promotional items, based his past experience. He was amazed at the sheer number of quality leads generated thanks to the promotional item working in tandem with a newly designed booth, literature, and a hand-picked team of experts. He also now insists that the same approach be used in the future. I can cite many more examples of how promotional items help drive in leads and spark conversations with valuable prospective customers.
Promo Item Going Viral.

There is also a viral marketing benefit to this. People who were given the cheap and cheerful giveaway item showed it to their colleagues and friends at the conference, and pointed them our way. They also post photos of the giveaways on social media and share them. We gained additional qualified leads as a consequence.

At a recent and massive trade show and conference, I gave every one of the hard-working people registering delegates one of our event themed promotional items as a thank you from us. They loved them, and they wore them while registering hundreds and hundreds of delegates! They even came back for more. We gained significant conference exposure as a consequence. When you are in a massive trade show with over 1,000 exhibitors and you're only a minnow in a very big sea, every bit of 'viral marketing' and 'guerrilla  marketing' helps.

Silly promotional item? Yes. Effective at the job of attracting leads? Yes.

There are advantages and disadvantages to various promotional item approaches. There is no single solution. In fact, each solution comes with its own set of challenges. Having a drawing for a big-ticket item is valid and can attract a lot of business cards and contacts, but only one person will win. Inexpensive giveaways make everyone who stops by a 'winner', and if a conversation is started and a contact is made and recorded, both sides win. If budget allows for it, it would be ideal to have both a 'raffle drawing' for a big ticket item and mass quantities of branded promotional items.

I can’t tell you how many times we've made important client contacts at trade shows because we had a ‘cheap and cheerful’ bauble on display…. too many to count.

When exhibiting at trade show or conference, include an appropriate give-away item. It can be quality, it can be classy, it can be silly, it can be clever. But include one.

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