Using Promotional Products for Trade Show Marketing: Industry Interview

Trade shows, conferences and other industry events play an important role in building lasting B2B connections. Often, the first impression that a perusing colleague (or competitor) has of your brand is your trade show display and promotional goods. We reached out to several trade show marketing experts to find out what strategies they use to maximize promotional product effectiveness at industry events. Their responses were informative and inspiring.

The Power of Promotional Products

Virtually every one of our respondents commented on the critical role that promotional products play at trade shows. “In my experience, if you have a great promotional product, attendees will flock to your booth,” said Charlene Walters of Own Your Other. She also pointed out that trade shows are about offering a “spot of refuge” with “whatever little luxury you are able to provide.” These luxuries can range from a simple place to sit, to even a massage. When combined with a promotional product to take home, your attendees are sure to remember their experience at your booth!

Trade Show Marketing Secrets

Every marketer develops their own favorite methods for gaining visibility at conferences and events. Polly Kay of English Blinds shared four features of an effective promotional product:

“1. They need to be innovative. Visitors to trade shows can go home with a hundred pens and keychains, should they choose to. Why will another product of this type stand out from the crowd?

  1. They need to be useful for the longer term. Think about what your prospects will still be picking up and using some time down the road.
  2. They need to get your message across.
  3. You have to give them out freely.”

Another important point was added by Syed Irfan Ajmal, Content Marketing Executive at SIA Enterprises:

“When the audience is present at your booth, make sure to collect their contact details. After the trade show event, you can follow up with them for multiple purposes.”

The Ubiquitous Pen

Of all the promotional products available to savvy marketers, none is more popular than the pen. Utterly practical, promotional pens find their way onto virtually every desk. The trick, according to our respondents, is to make your pens stand out from the bunch. Dan Ratner of The Next Steps has done extensive research into what makes a great promotional pen, including over a thousand trade show booth visits. His takeaway tip? Use that pen to send a message:

“When sifting through my bag of loot, I noticed that most didn’t communicate anything. Sure, a logo or toll-free number or website address were imprinted on the barrel of the pen, but I had no idea what their story was or what they offered.

What if I liked the pen they offered and used it every day until the ink ran out? Would I ever check out their website? Would I even care what they did or what their value proposition was?”

These questions led Dan to discover novel designs such as pens with mini-rollup banner systems. Taking the time to research and invest in unique promotional products paid off for him. “I still have friends and colleagues coming to me telling me they were their favorite pens and even digging them out of their purses or briefcases or backpacks to show me as proof,” he said.

Since trade shows can involve massive amounts of displays and demonstrations, standing apart from the pack is a goal of every presenter. Trade show marketing is both art and science, and promotional products have a place in any visibility strategy. Dan’s main point was to not overlook the power of the pen, especially when offered in a unique way:

“If you’re looking for a promotional item to giveaway at a tradeshow or event that will help grow your following, don’t settle for a pen that does little to nothing to tell your story and promote your brand, products and services. That pen may be the only connection you make with a prospect.”

Getting the Conversation Started

Trade shows and conventions are all about making personal connections. Booths that offer quality branded goods are more likely to entice passersby to come and get the conversation started. Eric Hoppe of Crowd Content Media shared his thoughts on this matter, along with how his team used a unique promotional product to break the ice with attendees:

“I really feel like promotional products should invite attendees to stop at your booth and start a conversation. To do that, I think they need to have some sort of emotional or personal appeal to attendees that compels them to come over to talk to you.

We’ve tried a few different products that help us make this connection. The one that worked best was creating dog bandanas that said “director of content barketing” on them. People love talking about their dogs, so they were happy to get some dog related swag, and we made many great connections that started by talking about dogs.”

As you can see, promotional products can go a long way toward making a splash at your next trade show or industry event. The quality of your promotional goods reflects your brand as a whole, which makes it critical to only work with the best customization service available. Instant Imprints brings you a world-class customization experience, combined with the local touch of our Image Experts, resulting in a superior trade show marketing solution. No matter what your promotional goals are, let Instant Imprints help you reach them.



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