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3 Smarter Promotional Giveaways for Trade Shows, Expos

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By Fausto Mendez

    At massive trade shows, like CES in Las Vegas, promotional giveaways have morphed into an art form as companies from around the world aim to outdo each other with more effective giveaways, and it’s become clear that the best promotional campaigns are more creative, utilizing a strategic combination of products, messaging and distribution.

    Below, I list three (smarter, more effective) promotional giveaway ideas that can apply to most trade shows. We haven’t seen these ideas out in the real world - not exactly as we present them here - so they might give you the winning edge over the guys at the next both. 

Flash-Drive Bracelet as a Contest Entry

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    We’ve seen wearable flash drives at CES and other press-heavy shows, but they are almost always used to distribute basic information, like brochures and links. These are especially popular with companies that target reporters because they make it easy to deliver press shots, link lists and other important details while allowing the reporter’s attention to stick to whatever’s more important. This is a pretty smart tactic, but you’re limiting the bang per buck if you stop here. 

    Remember that the main goal of most giveaways at any trade show is to act as a billboard for your brand, so you should design your campaign in a way that keeps these bracelets on your targets’ wrists. One way to do that  is to launch a contest around the bracelets.

    As you hand out the bracelets, tell your targets that one of your employees randomly delivers prizes to people that wear the bracelets on the show floor, but you won’t know who or where he is because he’ll be dressed like everyone else.

    Make sure that you have the prize on display at your booth to tempt your audience. Of course, the more valuable the prize, the more likely that people will wear it, so it’s probably better to hand out a few big prizes than many low-quality ones. Still, there may be situations in which your target audience might prefer an inexpensive prize. For example, condoms might be a very popular prize at SXSW.

 Promotional T-Shirts, Tote Bags or Backpacks as Coupons

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     This idea can work for any trade show where you aim to sell to attendees, and all you need to do is print a coupon on your promotional shirts, tote bags or backpacks, preferably next to a very large version of your logo and slogan.

    The key is to hand out shirts away from your booth and to require the customer to wear the promotional item during purchase in order to redeem the coupon. As a result, attendees will put it on and later walk to your booth to make the purchase. The result is crowds of people wearing your logo and buying your stuff; of course, that’s assuming you have a product that people want. 

 Mugs, Tumblers or Cups for Access to Free Coffee, Alcohol or Water

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    Promotional mugs, tumblers and cups are some of AnyPromo’s hottest sellers, but if you hand someone a free cup, you’re not pushing your campaign to the max if he hides it in his tote bag right away. As a result, your best bet is to offer free drinks to attendees that have your mug, tumbler or cup in hand. 

    Whether you offer caffeinated drinks, alcohol or water depends on your specific situation, but the goal is to create a buzz of “that brand that is giving everyone free drinks if you just use their cups.” Furthermore, you can use the opportunity the catalyze important conversations with individuals that may be interested in your product, brand or cause, and the cup will serve as a friendly, non-intrusive ad after the show. 

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