Advertising specialties (i.e. premiums, incentives, giveaways, trash and trinkets, bribes!) have been an integral part of the trade show industry since its inception. We've ail walked by exhibits loaded with pens, mugs, coasters, note pads, only to load them into our "logo bag" then take them home for the kids or, worse yet, the trash!
Which of these premiums had an impact on your buying decision? Which one of these premiums is the most effective? The answer is up to you! The most effective premi¬ums work on two levels. First, they reinforce your company's message and name rec¬ognition; second, they support your specific objectives for the particular trade show. Any ad specialty item should reflect the quality of your product or service, and the professionalism and reputation of your company.
Over the years, our ShaBang Exhibit clients have shared their experience with successful trade show giveaways.
The premium should also be something truly useful. In fact, best premiums are those that help your prospect get their job done better or faster. These have a high perceived value, yet low reproduction costs. Examples are audio and video media, flash drives, newsletters, article reprints, informational booklets, software, etc.
If you choose to use giveaways, make sure that you advertise them in your pre-show promotion and that you are getting something in return. In other words, don't fork over a prize until the attendee fills out a lead card, views a product demonstration or otherwise "earns" the reward. Use them as parting gifts — "Thank you for stopping by our booth today, please accept this (insert bribe here!) for taking the time to visit us today. "Insist on making your premiums work hard to help you get the sale.
THE WRONG INCENTIVES:
Bags and candy bowls are two of the biggest culprits here. Bags simply don't meet the criteria for an effective premium. Sure they act as a temporary walking billboard, but what use do they ever get after the show? They fail the test of long-term, post-show value. You will also find yourself always having to make a better bag. First one com¬pany upgrades, then you counter, and pretty soon these "bag wars" get very expen¬sive. We suggest avoiding any types of containers with no after-show value.
Candy bowls are probably the most worthless incentive to use — unless you are a candy manufacturer! You turn attendees into thieves -- they walk up, grab a piece of candy, and bolt out of the area before you can make eye contact with them. A candy bowl doesn't offer any value in getting visitors into your booth, in fact, it takes up valuable space and valuable time in wasted chitchat. Everything in your booth must work to help you get business. If your premiums don't help you make the sale, don't give them away.
GAMES DRAWINS AND PRIZES:
Many exhibitors use games to entertain attendees, inform them of new products, and oth¬erwise involve the normally passive visitors. Games can draw a crowd and help booth staffers interact with attendees in a fun and soft-sell manner.
Make sure that any game fits within your show objectives. If you are looking for highly tar¬geted visitors who need a lot of detailed product information, games will only be viewed as an annoying waste of their time. If however, your objective is to increase company or brand awareness to the general public, games can be a cost-effective way to stop atten¬dees in their tracks and take notice of your exhibit.
To make sure that you are getting the most out of your in-booth game, you must:
• pre-qualify participants by inviting key prospects and promising a great prize
• train your booth staffers to handle the increased traffic and congestion that may occur
• Only give a prize after you have received a completed lead form
• work product information into the format to inform while you entertain
Be careful when using games such as toss the basketball, throw the darts or miniature golf — these can draw a lot of people, but many of them may not be qualified for your products or services. Make sure the game also ties in well with your objectives — otherwise, you will be wasting your booth staffer's time and your company's money!
Drawings are primarily used to add names to your database. The key here is to make sure to give something away that will attract only your buyers. If you sell computers, advertise that you'll be giving away software or a peripheral device. If you're a catering company, offer to cater a small dinner party for free. If you sell siding, offer a large discount on re¬siding an entire house. My point here is that don't give away an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii or a big screen TV -- these will attract ALL types of people to your booth, not just your target audience.
Now, if your product or service has mass appeal to the general public, then by all means offer something that will attract everyone. But believe it or not, not everyone wants a free set of golf clubs or tickets to the big game, so make sure it truly has mass appeal.
Good at-show promotions - giveaways, games and drawings — work on 2 levels --
1. They reinforce your company's message and name.
2. They support a specific objective for that show.
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