Plan Ahead to Make the Most of Your Tradeshow (Part 3)

Getting ready for a trade show can be overwhelming, but with the appropriate direction, pulling off the perfect trade show can be as easy as 1 * 2 * 3.  In part 3 of this 3-part series we focus on selecting the perfect Promotional Product for your Trade Show.  Part 1 (Marketing Materials)   Part 2 (Display Booths)

Step 3:  Finalize Your Message with the Perfect Promotional Item

Too often, promotional products are an afterthought.  Instead, integrate your promotional product into your whole marketing plan.  Make your promotional product an asset rather than a giveaway.  This allows you to measure your return on your investment.

This is the sound advice from Bruce Reissaus, MAS of Advertising Specialties Alliance in Cranberry Township.  We interviewed Bruce regarding best practices when purchasing promotional products.

Q: What is the best way to ensure that you recognize the investment of a promotional item?  Bruce: Create a theme – have a hook.  Make the promotional product part of your complete program, from the pre-show mailing or invitation, to the ‘at show’ giveaways, through to the after show follow-up.  The post show follow-up can be your most valuable opportunity.

Q:  How far in advance should exhibitors contact you for their promotional needs?  Bruce: The recommended timeframe depends on the project.  We recommend up to 3 months to set the parameters and budget for a new project.  However, if you already have a specific item in mind, we recommend 6-8 weeks lead time to allow us to best source your product.  This will ensure the best pricing and logistics.  We can sometimes turn products around in 48 hours, but we can’t guarantee the best pricing or logistics.

Q: What budgeting tips can you provide for selecting promotional items for a trade show?  Bruce: Is a 25-cent notepad really going to entice someone to convert to your product or service?  Probably not.  Rather than thinking that you have to give something to everyone, upgrade your promotional item, buy fewer higher quality items and give these to your A prospects.  Rather than displaying the promotional products, make an opportunity to follow-up.  By talking with the prospect at your show and making a promise to mail or deliver it after the show, you are making a promise you can keep, and thus building trust.

Q:  What is your #1 tip to keep in mind when selecting a promotional item?  Bruce: If you pick items that are cute, they are likely to end up in children’s toy boxes.  A common mistake is to see something you like and select an item based on your preference.  Instead, think about your recipient.  To do this, you must first highly define your audience.  What would they like?  Is it something they will be using when they have a need for your services?  Does the item relate to how they think?

Here is an example of a successful ROI.  Engineers like to solve problems.  Our client created a targeted list of engineers.  We then sent these engineers one part of the promotional item and invited them to come to the booth to find out what the product was.  When they arrived with the item, they plugged it into the remaining part. What was it?  A pizza cutter.  By sending a unique handle, they had to come to the booth to solve the problem.  This allowed our client to identify those prospects on their hotlist and to engage them as such.

And last, but certainly not least, follow-up on the opportunities you created.  Look for our next article in our March Newsletter on best practices for following up with leads generated at Trade Shows.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group ~ The Edmiston Group provides senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis.  Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

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