Trade Show Swag and Giveaways Made Easy

Ah, the trade show.  A standard in corporate marketing.  Nothing like being on your feet all day long for days in a row, am I right?! 

But to come up with swag or a giveaway that doesn't suck... That's the real struggle.

With all the tradeshows I've hosted over the years, you'd think I'd have a slew of ideas for good swag and giveaway/raffle items.  It's still a struggle though each time a show rolls around.  Every company and budget is different, and what attendees will actually like and use changes every year.  So while I don't have an all-inclusive list of things people will rave about, I do have some tips for choosing the best items for your audience, and a list of some of my favorite swag and giveaways that have been timeless over the years.

Tip 1: Find useful items related to your industry.

Actually useful items.  Not something useful in theory but that people throw away (ahem, I'm talking to you over there with the cheap branded notepad).  Think unique but helpful.  Do you provide a service?  What items do people use when they work with you? If you're going to spend the money to put your logo on something, make sure it's something that won't be thrown away or tucked in a junk drawer.  Better yet, pick an item you know people will use daily if they use your service or product.

Tip 2: Consider a high ticket item for a giveaway.

If you're using a giveaway as a means to collect email addresses for your list or get some warm leads for future sales, be sure to offer something of value in return.  It doesn't have to be a super expensive item, but it should have a high perceived value.  (Side note, if you're hosting a giveaway or raffle, be sure to follow all laws and regulations - many states consider it gambling and your booth can be shut down if you're not in compliance with local law.  Sometimes making your giveaway have a requirement as simple as "Share your favorite ____ on the back of this form for your chance to win" will make it compliant by adding a level of skill required to win.)

Tip 3: Ask your audience what they want.

If you have time to decide, ask your top customers what they would like to receive from you.  You may be surprised by the results!  Some of my favorite suggestions came from customers.

Now, if you are short on time it gets a bit more tricky.  You may have to be more creative and you may have to work with what vendors have on hand.  In that case, your best bet would be to contact your local promo vendor to see what they have.  Be sure to not pick something just to have something.  Sometimes it's better to have nothing at all then to give away junk that nobody really wants.  Below are some of my favorite items if you're looking for ideas:

Favorite Branded Swag Items:

  1. Nice pens (read: not cheap)
  2. Embroidered hats
  3. Portable power banks
  4. USB sticks
  5. Purse hooks
  6. Insulated cooler bags
  7. Nice lunch bag
  8. Coffee mugs
  9. Travel cups/mugs
  10. Offers for reduced cost services

Favorite Giveaway Items:

  1. Sporting event tickets
  2. Ipad
  3. Hotel stay
  4. Travel voucher
  5. Car rental voucher
  6. Uber gift card
  7. Popular store gift card
  8. Gift basket of locally crafted items
  9. Original artwork
  10. Autographed items