Monthly Archives: May 2013


How to: Make an impact at trade shows


With the exhibition season fast approaching, companies across the UK and overseas will be preparing for trade shows, consumer shows and everything in between.

Promotional products, or ‘freebies / giveaways’ as they are more commonly known, work well at trade shows as people love being given something free. But how many pens does one person need? Has over-use of popular items such as pens, USB sticks and bags made promotional merchandise nothing more than a cheap gimmick? Or can it really bring in new business?

Recent research undertaken by the BPMA suggests it can. The research found that 94% of  respondents remember a brand after receiving a promotional item, and 39% said they would be more likely to do business with the brand in future. Considering the above – have you got your trade show strategy in check?

Planning and preparation is always key in the organisation of any event; even more so if you intend to launch a new product/service and encourage visitors to your stand.

Here’s our top tips to help your brand stand out at an exhibition – why blend in with your competitors when you can stand out from the pack?!

Tip#1: Give your visitors something useful

Yes everyone loves a freebie, but if it’s a useful gift, they are more likely to keep it – and use it in their daily lives. If it’s well thought out, relevant to your brand and useful to your customers, it will sit on their desk, in their pocket, car or bag and be in constant view – acting as a daily reminder of your brand. Anything where you have given away something of benefit to the customer, which they will keep with them and use again, gives you quite a low-cost communications channel.

BPMA research into the length of time branded promotional merchandise is kept reveals that low-cost items, such as mugs and pens, can deliver a cost per impression of just £0.001 – a tenth of a penny. This compares favourably with other forms of media such as television (£0.008 per impression) and advertising (£0.003 per impression), it says.

No matter how useful, the promotional product needs to be relevant to your brand. Think about seasonal trends too, and opportunities to tie in products as part of your wider marketing and brand strategy; such as offering customers the opportunity to win a prize.

For example, a car company could give away branded car fresheners, and tie this in with a competition to win a car or free fuel for a year. This would enable the brand owner to communicate their proposition to prospective customers via something they would use time and again.

Tip#2: What’s your trade show strategy?

A common sight at most B2B industry trade shows is one of stands filled with random merchandise, often low quality items which can appear as a gimmick and risk de-valuing your brand. You need a strategic approach behind the entire concept of the stand – and all the extra promotional tactics, such as promotional merchandise, must fit as part of the overall theme.

For example, merchandise doesn’t need to be material – it can be food based too! If your exhibition stand theme were that of a ‘cinema’ – what better way to enhance the user experience and create a cinematic feel by using popcorn and confectionery or frozen yogurt as promotional merchandise? And that tied in with a cinema style golden ticket competition to win a prize?! The smell of the popcorn should be incentive enough to attract visitors to your stand!

Promotional merchandise can drive visitor traffic to your stand, and when they get there, you can give them a lasting memory of your brand to take away.

Tip#3: Importance of monitoring effectiveness

It can be hard to quantify exhibition success. The usual criteria for assessing the success of a show is the amount of traffic to the stand and the number of enquiries generated. But can direct ROI from promotional merchandise be measured? Promotions that are targeted and require something from the customer in exchange, usually contact information, are easier to quantify and measure.

If you tie in merchandise as part of a pre-show marketing campaign, your response rate and engagement should be much higher. For example, sending prospective customers merchandise before the show, which links to an incentive/prize draw will gain their attention and make them more likely to take part in the campaign and more likely to visit your stand.

Make sure you’re using online channels to maximise the reach of a promotional campaign, as not only does this reach a wider audience, but it is easier to target your message and more importantly, easier to quantify and measure results.

Need inspiration?
Contact us today for advice and ideas on how to integrate promotional merchandise into your marketing mix, and which products might work best for your brand and industry sector to make an impact at your next event. Our friendly team has the expertise and the passion to come up with some cracking ideas and a no obligation quote on request! Simply call 08707 500057 or drop us a line at