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19 Details For Smoother Trade Show Promotions

January 03, 2013 | | Comments 7

promotions for tradesshowsTo have a successful trade show promotion, you need to offer something of value that will bring your prospect out of the aisle and into your booth.  Sound simple? At first blush, it is.  Yet, you also have to think through an unexpectedly large number of details to get trade show promotions right.  Why?  To ensure you sand out all the awkwardness that could unwillingly put splinters of friction into the hands of your booth visitors and booth staffers. Here are 19 questions to ask yourself about the details of your trade show promotions to ensure best results at your show: Ordering Promotions:

  1. Will the giveaway be high enough quality to represent our brand?  And still affordable for our budget?
  2. How much time does it take to customize the promotion with our logo?  And what size and format do they need our logo?
  3. Are we adding any messaging besides our logo to the promotional item?  Who signs off on that message?
  4. Do we have enough time to get them customized and shipped to the show, and still see a sample before the entire production run is begun?
  5. If we are doing an overseas show, can we source a giveaway supplier with inventory in country, to save time and shipping costs?
  6. Will the giveaway fit into staffers’ pockets?
  7. How many giveaways do we need, enough for every lead, or more for trick-or-treaters, or fewer so only best prospects get them?
  8. Do we need to have one giveaway, or multiple levels of giveaways for different levels of visitors?
  9. Do we need to have different giveaways to appeal to various audiences at vertical market shows?
  10. Are there any rules prospects have to follow to receive our promotion?  Or legal rules for us in offering it?
  11. Are there more environmentally sustainable versions of our giveaway choices?

Promotions In Your Booth:

  1. Where are we storing the promotional items in the trade show exhibit space?  Is there enough space?  Are they easily accessible during the show?  And secure?
  2. Do we need to unwrap the giveaways before the show to save staffer time during the show?  Or, conversely, put our own branded wrapper on them?
  3. How will we display the promo items in our booth — out on the edge in the open, back further in the booth, or hidden away?
  4. Is our promotion complicated enough that we need emails/letters/ads to promote and/or explain our promotions before the show, and signage to promote and/or explain our promotion in our trade show booth?

Booth Staffers and Promotions:

  1. What point in the conversation with attendees is the best time to give them the giveaway?  Will they receive it during or after the show?
  2. How do we train booth staffers to tie a themed promotion to our competitive advantages?
  3. If we have Crowd Gathers, do they hand out the giveaways, or will our employee booth staffers give them out?
  4. What do we tell attendees if we run out of promotional items, depending on how aggressively we promoted it before and during the show?

Here’s your goal:  Get this all figured out long before the show starts, so that you don’t spend the first day trying to work out the kinks, or worse yet, have kinks that can’t really be resolved during the show. Because it takes a surprising amount of time to think through all these details. But it’s so worth it, when your booth staffers have much smoother interactions with prospects, and your promotions do their job to entice, entertain, engage, and remind visitors why you are the best solution for their needs. What other detail questions do you ask to make for smoother trade show promotions?  Let us know in the comment box below.

What's Working In Exhibiting white paperThe top way exhibitors say they increased their trade show results is through promotions.  Find more information on that and more in our What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  Click here to request your free 32-page guide. 

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About the Author: Mike Thimmesch is Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, with over 25 years of Marketing and Trade Show Display Marketing experience.

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  1. Dave says:

    Good questions and worth answering BEFORE the event – Thanks!

  2. Michael says:

    Great article Mike. Cool ‘stuff’ definitely draws more of a crowd.

  3. Jason Biddle says:

    Mike, I really enjoyed reading this list. As a professional in the promotional products industry, I must say that these are fantastic questions to ask oneself in preparation of a tradeshow. And to go one step further, I’d suggest discussing these matters with the suppliers from whom the giveaways are ordered. The branding specialists at promotional products companies are trained to help customers find the best freebies that will support their marketing strategies.

    That leads me to one detail that I’d like to add to your list, Mike.

    #20 – Will the promotional products add value to our brand or will they simply be a waste of money?

    Don’t spend valuable marketing dollars on giveaways for the sake of having giveaways. Instead, really consider what promotional products will strengthen the branding. Be strategic when deciding what promotional products best complement the marketing plan.

    The difference between a thoughtful giveaway and a thoughtless giveaway could be a new customer.

    • Thanks for your comments and your #20, Jason. I like to point out that if you buy a cheap giveaway, and it breaks, do you want your company logo on it? How will that affect your brand?

      • Jason Biddle says:

        Yes, you’re right, Mike. Companies certainly don’t want recipients of their promotional products to view their brands poorly due to a negative experience (such as a broken giveaway).

        It’s easy to make the assumption that a cheap (inexpensive) giveaway is more prone to breaking than an expensive giveaway. However, the durability of a promotional product relates more to craftsmanship than to price. Even more reason to have a good discussion with the sales associates of the company supplying the promotional products. They will be able to confidently recommend specific products that have a history of great performance.

        Perhaps the best way to test the quality of potential giveaways is to heed detail #4 and order a sample. Seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and tasting the promotional products will surely resolve the matter.

        And most of all, regardless of what giveaways are used, be sure they add value to everyone who receives them!

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