9 Tips for Better Tradeshow Giveaways

If you’re considering giving away a promotional item at your next tradeshow, review these guidelines based on our experience working on hundreds of shows over the years. Plan ahead and implement these best practices, and you’ll enjoy a better return on your tradeshow investment.
  1. Have a goal for what you want to accomplish. Once you determine your end goal, you’ll be better able to position your message in a way that drives the results you want. If you want to generate leads, your giveaway item will be different from one meant to drive awareness or increase booth traffic. By predetermining your goal, you’ll be able to assess whether the giveaway item is in line with that goal.
  2. Make your giveaway item audience-specific. Rather than having pens, USB drives, or any run-of-the-mill product, look for items that tie directly to the booth theme and resonate with your core message. Products that have the most success in giveaways are new, innovative, or creative. Regardless of what route you take, the item should always be useful. Additionally, keep longevity in mind. You want something that features your logo/brand and that your audience will keep on hand.
  3. Promote your giveaway before and during the tradeshow. Use pre-show email, pay-per-click, or direct mail to tell people about the giveaway. Include a ticket in the pre-show promotions that provides an extra chance to win if redeemed at the booth. Once the tradeshow is in progress, include a registration bag insert that, again, provides an extra chance to win. These promotions will drive booth traffic.
  4. Anticipate the number of individuals who will be at the tradeshow. If there are going to be 10,000 participants, you won’t attract much traffic with a single giveaway. In a case like this, 100 giveaways of a smaller item would be more favorable and drive more traffic than just one large item.
  5. Easily capture their information. Once you drive traffic to the booth, make sure you get what you need from the lead without creating a multistep process. Keep the process painless and simple while qualifying the visitor. Scanning a badge is ideal, particularly if you have the option of asking one or two qualifying questions. Alternatively, you could exchange business cards or have them simply write down their name and preferred contact information.
  6. Differentiate yourself from your competitors. Review the show floor map to understand where your competitors are and to make sure your location is good for traffic. In the event you’re close to your competition, you can heighten your awareness by having your staff walk the show floor, in dispersed areas, giving out items and informing people as they walk. You can also differentiate yourself from competition by giving out items specific to your company, like free copies of your software. Ultimately, your message and creativity should stand on its own to distract from the competition.
  7. Avoid the appearance of a rigged contest. To avoid the notion of an unfair contest, host a live drawing. Be sure to notify participants of the drawing’s time and stick to the schedule. If the contest is electronic via a video game or on a computer, you can program it to win on the last day so people come back to your booth throughout the entirety of the tradeshow. Also, giving away multiple moderately priced prizes, rather than one expensive prize, reduces the likelihood that the giveaway will be viewed as rigged.
  8. Follow up on the lead generation. If you are capturing leads, have an appropriate person follow up within a week of the show, so your company is still fresh in your prospects’ minds.
  9. Track success. Find a way to track the success of the giveaway, such as including an entry in the scanned badge record, sending prospects to a landing page that requires registration to get an additional entry, or requiring them to email you to get an entry code.
Final tips
  • Keep your budget in mind and in line with the size of the tradeshow.
  • If you are creating a show theme based on the giveaway, make sure your desired item is in stock and deliverable in time.
  • Tie the giveaway item into your theme, brand, and company.
  • Plan for how your giveaway may affect future sales (coupons, gift cards requiring contact for redemption, etc.).