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Using Swag Effectively

Do you ever get frustrated manning a booth at a tradeshow because so many “trick or treaters” walk by, looking for what free giveaways they can get from you? Often they have absolutely no interest in your product or service. How about the department discussions about what to give away and the inability to reach consensus? Sometimes having too many chefs in the kitchen, each with their own “super idea,” can make you just want to yell, “Pick something already!” And finally, are you frequently disappointed by the lack of quality visitors who come by your booth? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, read on.

So how do we battle those browsers for free stuff? Be selective – start changing your strategy to giving out swag to those who spend time with you. In other words, if they truly have no interest in your company, why should they get anything? Budgets are tight, so spend the money on someone who is willing to invest a few minutes. Under or behind your table should be a stash of items categorized from good to better to best. Distribute them judiciously to attendees based on time spent and qualifying the prospect. In all cases, be sure to get their business cards and provide the gift as a form of “thank you” for their invested time. Make sure to take notes about your conversation and place it in your follow-up box.

For those who disagree and have the mindset of giving promotional items out to anyone who wants it, we certainly understand. The more people you distribute your items to, the greater the chances are for your company to increase brand awareness. However, we are assuming that there are limited resources on your end, and thus you need to be selective and qualify the prospects.

Another idea could be to display a nicer item to be seen by all passersby, but unable to be grabbed as they walk by. Thus, they become curious and approach your table to ask about the item. At this time, you are given the opportunity to qualify this person and decide if the attendee deserves the gift.

Much of the selection of the right giveaway is driven by factors such as cost, theme and practical use. In terms of cost, we suggest a variety of gift levels by qualification. As for thematic versus practical, we feel tying to a theme is creative, yet the most valuable is one that will be kept and used so that your brand is always seen. While having an item like a light bulb-shaped stress reliever ties into an intellectual property theme, we strongly feel that something like a cell phone holder would be a better option because it is functional and will be used, resulting in your brand being remembered.

How about considering where you want your giveaway to end up or the size of the item? Do you want it kept in an office or brought home for the kids? Based on our experience, we found that our clients do both and it often comes down to personal taste. While we agree that both have positives, an item that ultimately goes back to the client’s office and desk is the dream. As we would all acknowledge the importance of shelf space in a retail environment, we feel in the professional world the perfect spot for your branded swag is on the desk. As for item size, a smaller item would be more ideal. They cost less to ship and they take up less space, especially if giving away multiple gifts. And finally, a smaller item is more likely to be packed by a recipient and brought back to the home or office.

To attract quality visitors, target those key prospects by inviting them to your booth or event. Advise them that if they stop by and spend a few minutes with you, they can receive a 2GB USB drive. If not, maybe tease them. Send them a cord to some device and tell them to come by and speak for a few minutes in order to receive a charger for that cord. The possibility of attracting key prospects is increased as who doesn’t want a free gift?

In recap, don’t let the tradeshow shoppers take advantage of you – outsmart them. Reward them with a gift if they spend some time with you. Although cost is a key factor, remember that you get what you pay for. The item is a reflection of your brand. Practical items are much preferred than thematic, but if you are able to do both, now you are talking. The ideal item is smaller and ultimately lands on the desk. And finally, it is okay to tease your prospects to come to your booth.

Contributed by Pride Products Owner Andrew Nadel and Senior Intern Ariana Velazco. Pride Products is a distributor of promotional products and corporate gifts for over 17 years. Logos can be imprinted, embroidered or embossed on products to build market presence and brand awareness. For more information, visit pride-products.com

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