Trade Show Swag: What’s Hot for 2015

tchotchkesAn intriguing thought crossed my mind as I prepared this blog on the benefits of trade show giveaways. Given the nearly universal appeal of tchotchkes I wondered whether anyone has proposed a doctoral dissertation analyzing the irresistible allure of ball point pens, pocket-sized hand sanitizers, disposable water bottles and tote bags emblazoned with exhibitor’s logos.

As a veteran of scores of trade shows, I’ve seen well-dressed, affluent –looking professionals saunter over to a booth and scoop up a key chain, pencil, highlighter or a tiny box of breath mints. Generally, these items retail for under three dollars. Perhaps there is some deep, underlying psychological reasons fueling the attractiveness of inexpensive items neatly arranged on a table, offered free to guests.

However, I think trade show giveaways are popular draw because most people love getting gratis goodies, aka swag or what folks in New Orleans call “lagniappe”. Savvy exhibitors understand the value of a well-chosen gift and tap its power to bring visitors to their booth.

In an excellent post, The Sales Pro blogger Johnny Bravo answers the question, what makes a good trade show giveaway? “Although there are a lot of options available” writes Bravo, “not all are created equal. To make the selection process easier I’ve broken it down into the 3 criteria a trade show giveaway should have before you decide to use it at your next event.”

  • Cost Effective. Distributing free iWatches at your booth may make you the hit of the show, but it will probably also break the bank. On the other hand you always need to put quality first. Fewer items given to the right people are better than giving out junk to everybody. Come up with your budget first and then work backwards to the actual swag.
  • Intriguing. The giveaway needs to be either unique and memorable or it has to be useful. This will make it less likely that it will be tossed as soon as the attendee returns to their hotel room or in the office. Promotional tablet stylus, much more unique.
  • Branded. Make sure you always have your logo or tag line on the swag. Bravo says “Make sure all of your branded material, giveaways and collateral, are consistently branded. Use the same logo, the same fonts, the same typeface, and the same colors across all your material.”

Bravo’s five favorite giveaways for 2015 are:

  • Hand Sanitizer. Great for shows – at networking events you are constantly shaking hands.
  • Touch Screen Cleaning Cloth. Will be used often.
  • Tablet Stylus Pen. A real hit for those hardcore tabletphiles.
  • Reusable Bag or Tote. Bravo waxes, “This is my top favorite tchotchkes to get, but I kid you not; of all the tradeshows I’ve been to there are usually only one or two exhibitors who give away bags or totes. I think more companies should give them out because 1) gives you a way to carry all the other goodies you pick up through the day 2) It is a large promotional item with a lot of available print space for branding, logos and/or advertising and 3) it can be used for grocery shopping, carrying food to the beach, as an overnight bag, to hold wet clothes after the beach, etc., proving multiple opportunities for brand exposure.”
  • Wine or Beer. Interesting option – it will make you popular, but has limited branding opportunities. Plus, as with all events with liquor, this opens you up to liabilities.

People live and die by their smartphones these days so EventRebels likes portable phone charging devices.

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