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By Will Farmer

When it comes to gearing up for your next tradeshow participation, picking what free giveaway you want to offer attendees that pass by your booth should be an easy decision. Easy yes, but how can you translate a giveaway into an effective marketing opportunity?

For most, the goal of offering a unique giveaway is giving potential customers an item that they will hold on to and not end up tossing as soon as they leave the exhibit hall. Giving away an item someone will use time and time again, that is branded and that leaves a lasting impression with potential clients is a lot to ask for, but it is very doable. According to the Promotional Products Association International’s 2017 Consumer Study Summary, 83 percent of people are more likely to do business with a brand due to their promotional product, so we know something is working.

LEDVANCE, an international company for lighting products and networked light applications, offered a unique giveaway that caught the attention of thousands at a recent tradeshow. The basic concept of their giveaway was to draw attention to their exhibit, create a buzz at the event and leave attendees with a unique gift.

Each attendee was able to personalize a light bulb with a name or phrase that an artist then etched into the bulb while they waited. If the long line didn’t generate interest enough, they also set up a camera overhead with monitors so those on line could see the artists at work.  Each bulb was then was placed in a custom designed box with SYLVANIA branding for safe transport and creating a nice desktop display for their home or office – keeping their brand front and center with potential consumers and clients.  While in line, each attendee’s badge was scanned to capture their contact information.

As an exhibit design, fabrication and tradeshow management company that has worked in this industry for over 30 years and has serviced hundreds of brands with their booth and exhibit needs, we have seen our fair share of promotional products in convention and meeting venues. The LEDVANCE example is a giveaway we’ve seen recently that is an effective way of pulling in potential customers. Offering something unique but most importantly drawing people to your booth so you have an opportunity to connect with them, obtain contact information and hopefully start a relationship.

The research shows that promotional giveaways can work, but what the research may not directly illustrate is in order to make these products effective, there is a lot of hard work that is accompanied by the promotional product. On top of having a fun, unique giveaway, that item must be paired with an eye-catching exhibit as well as highly engaging representatives manning the tradeshow booth. At Creatacor, we incorporate all three of these tactics when hitting the tradeshow floor ourselves.

Recently, we put a spin on the traditional giveaway by having attendees build their own items to take home with them. The goal was to highlight what we do, and how well we do it while urging attendees to stop and spend time at our exhibit, allowing us to initiate conversation. In addition, we wanted to showcase creativity, build capabilities and ease of working with them to create something great.

We offered three “make-and-takes” giving attendees the option to choose which gift would be most useful to them. They included a mobile phone stand, a bottle opener and a picture frame.  The phone stand was “tool-less” similar to rental systems we offer.  For the other two, we supplied a screwdriver to make the task easier and to show how we are always prepared and in return, so are our clients.

Continuing with the theme of our business, we provided easy to understand blueprint-like directions as we would do for a typical exhibit installation. In the end, we found this method to be highly effective in helping us connect with potential clients. Executing these three simple steps allows our team to begin building client relationships through “make-and-takes”:

Step 1: Build a giveaway
Step 2: Start a relationship
Step 3: Create a partnership

Promotional giveaways are a marketing trend that will not be going away any time soon and are constantly evolving. In order to stay current and relevant, it’s important for companies to review how they are incorporating giveaways and to make sure they are offering something that stands out and leads to building, which will hopefully be a long standing relationship between you and your new customer.

Will Farmer is COO/partner at Creatacor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunications Management from Ithaca College and has been with Creatacor since 1990, starting as a junior project manager and eventually working his way up serving as an account executive and vice president of client services.

This story originally appeared in the July/August issue of Exhibit City News, p. 64. For more pictures and original layout, visit http://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecnflipbook_julyaugust2018_web?e=16962537/62860459

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