5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Giveaways

Photo: iStockphoto.com/yasinguneysu
Photo: iStockphoto.com/ yasinguneysu


It’s that time of year when everyone is thinking about giving gifts … making lists … and searching for just the right item to give to each recipient.

But what about trade show gifts – How much thought goes into what you’re giving away in your booth? If you’re like a lot of exhibitors, probably not nearly enough. So here are five questions you should be asking before you even think about ordering anything to be shipped to your next show.

  1. What best aligns with your goals and message for the show? Perhaps you want to increase visibility or motivate sales. In the same way that goals are individual to each company who exhibits, so are the appropriate gifts. Simply because something is the hot gadget of the month and other exhibitors are handing it out doesn’t mean it’s the right gift for you, nor that your audience will get excited about it, which brings us to …
  2. What will your audience appreciate or find most valuable? There’s a significant difference between what will appeal to a group of physicians at a medical show vs. what attendees at a construction show might find useful. Always keep your audience in mind and select gifts they want and will use, not necessarily something that your staff finds clever. You may also want to have different gifts for your VIP clients or hot prospects than you do for a more general audience.
  3. How will you control the distribution of the gifts? Piling items on a table is never the right answer here. These carefully-selected gifts should be given to attendees as a thank-you or reward for spending time in your booth. Make them feel special by making it more of a presentation than an afterthought. You can also use some type of a qualifying tool in your pre-show promotions by coding the invitations based on the rank of the prospect. The hotter the prospect, the better gift they will receive when they stop by the booth.
  4. Should you tell them what you’ll be giving away, or simply hint at it in your promotions? Again the answer is, “It depends.” You could send out some kind of teaser that piques their curiosity and gets you on their ‘must-see’ list. Or you could outright tell them what they’ll be getting from you when they stop by your booth. The best answer here is simply to let them know that you’ve got a reward for them when they take time to come and meet with you at the show.
  5. How will you track the distribution of items and the ROI of the giveaway after the show? Yes, you heard right. It’s not about handing out as many gifts as you can, as fast as you can. The point of giving anything away is to make an impression and ultimately to gain a customer. If you’re not tracking who gets the gifts, you don’t have any way to follow up. And if you’re not following up, you’re missing potential sales. So use gifts to enhance your future success.

What are some great giveaway ideas you’ve seen at shows? Please post them in the comments below. And there are more effective tips and ideas for giveaways coming your way during the featured Strategy of the Month calls in December in the Exhibit Marketers Café.

© 2015 Marlys K. Arnold  (from the November 2015 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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