Promotional Giveaways: What You Need To Know

Over at Exhibitor Magazine, Candy Adams recently wrote about a dozen things that event and tradeshow marketers should avoid doing with promotional giveaways. Here are a few tips on how to choose and give away the right promotional item.

Strategize Before You Buy

Coming up with neat promotional items to give away to tradeshow or event attendees is easy. But finding an item that fits your brand, your audience, your budget and still manages to add business value, is difficult. Before you even think about buying promotional items, ask these questions:

What are your business goals for the event or tradeshow?

Business goals will always trump “being cool” so just offering the coolest promotional item won’t really be effective. If brand awareness is a goal (it definitely should be at an event) then your items should be logoed and memorable. If capturing leads is a goal then offer free trials of your product or service in return for attendee contact info.

Who’s attention do you want to capture most?

You won’t capture everyone’s attention all of the time so defining your target audience is key. If you want to go after millennials then the promotional giveaway should be relevant to people in their teens, twenties, and early thirties. You can get even more specific by figuring out gender, age, or industry. The more specific you get about your audience, the more or less money and time you can spend on finding the perfect item.

What is your financial, human, event/venue and time constraints?

Promotional giveaways can be costly in many ways. Financially, simply estimating the cost of the item as your one fixed promotional cost is a big miscalculation. Promotional items require shipping, printing, storing, which can up the final cost.

You will also be paying for the manpower needed to properly distribute and handle the items. You need to figure out what kind of limits or requirements certain events or venues have before buying promotional items. For instance, some venues don’t allow food or raffles due to health concerns or government regulations. Finally, time is the most important event resource so you’ll need to calculate how much of it will be used up for setting up and actually giving the items away.

The answers to these questions should give you a better idea of what kind of promotional item you should offer. You’ve chosen a promotional item, now what?

Train Your Staff

Because promotional giveaways can be expensive, it’s imperative that all of the people working with the items know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. People who are handing out the items should be able to easily identify members of the target audience, engage them in conversation and have them leave with positive feelings towards the brand. Take the necessary time before the event to properly train your event staff. It’s the only way to ensure that your promotional giveaways aren’t going to waste.

Make Promos Sticky

Remember business goals? Promotional items as one-time giveaways are a waste. They need to make people do, say or feel something for them to have any impact on your business goals. By making sure that your logos and brand messaging are placed clearly on the items, you’re making them sticky and memorable.

Another way to make them sticky is to have a call-to-action (CTA) tied to the items. For instance, if you’re giving away a hat, asking people to take pictures of themselves wearing it and then uploading to Instagram with a branded hashtag can give you a ton of earned impressions. Once you have their social information, it might be easier to keep lines of communication open with them for future sales and business development.

Promotional giveaways aren't magic bullets for lead generation or attendee experience woes. However, they can act as memorable tokens of appreciation between brands and attendees. And who doesn’t like to be appreciated?

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.