How to Use Promotional Items

07/09/19 by Bev

At Exhibit Edge, we are always asked about promotional items – what’s hot, what’s cool, what’s on sale, what’s new – but the big questions that need to be asked are:

  • What’s the purpose of the promotional items at the show?
  • How do you use them effectively?

So, why do you have promotional items at a trade show?  Well, you may answer that it helps lure people to your exhibit and talk to you.  You put a large display of items out on the front counter for people to take, and they do. You need to realize that there are some attendees that are there for the sole purpose of taking your stuff.  They have no intention of having a serious discussion with you and may engage in a superficial conversation long enough to grab an item, or three. So that is probably not the best way to use promotional items.

Many companies are ok with this approach and keep separate items of greater value under the counter for special situations. Keep an eye on the counter items as I have seen some people grab handfuls when you are not looking.

Here’s some tips for effectively using your promotional items:

  • A promotional item should be given to disengage from a conversation not to lure a customer to your exhibit.   Let me explain. As an exhibitor you should have specific qualifying questions to ask an attendee as they approach. If you determine that the attendee is not a good prospect then reach under the counter and use the promotional item to disengage from the conversation and move on. You have very limited time to reach quality attendees and the promotional item can be a good way to disengage.
  • You should have different types of promotional items to thank quality customers and potential customers who you want to show special recognition to. This pretty much goes without the need for explanation, right? Studies show that a quality item increased brand awareness and favorability.
  • You should keep in mind that the purpose of lower end promotional items should be for name recognition or brand awareness. Don’t get items that will not be seen after the first use such as food items with your logo on the wrapper or toys that the attendee will give to their kids. You want to purchase items that will stay on a potential customer’s desk or something they will carry with them and use a lot. That is why you see pens, flashlights, notepads, and other practical items distributed a lot. Your job is to make sure the item you distribute stands out and is of good quality
  • Realize that attendees that fly in cannot carry large quantities of promotional items home as they do not have room in their suitcase for extra weight. Items should be small and you should offer a good prospect the ability to send information and promotional items to them in a follow-up manner.

Bottom line: use promotional items to solidify your position in the minds of your potential customers, not to break the ice. And of course, make sure it’s not something that’s likely to end up in the trash at the end of the show!


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