Select a Giveaway Attendees Will Take Away

Walk around any trade or consumer show and you will be able to collect a bag full of advertising specialties or giveaway items, all designed to promote. But look a little more closely. How many really do an effective job? How clearly do they get a message across? Is the message sufficiently visible? Is the giveaway useful or unique enough that you would want to keep and use it? All these questions, and more, need to be considered before jumping into the giveaway game.

What do you want to achieve by giving away a premium item?

Your giveaway items should be designed to increase your memorability, communicate, motivate, promote, or increase recognition. It is important not only that the message have an impact, but also the premium itself.

How will you select your premium item?

To select the right item, you need to decide on your objective. Do you want it to enhance a theme, convey a specific message, or educate your target audience? A clear purpose should help make your selection process easier.

Who is your target audience?

Having a clear objective for your premium item will also help you decide who should receive it. You may consider having different gifts for different types of visitors. You might have different-quality gifts for your key customers, prospects, and general passersby.

How does your giveaway tie into your marketing theme?

Is there an item that naturally complements your marketing message? Have the message imprinted on the item and make sure that your company name, logo, and phone number appear clearly.

What is your budget?

The price range for premium items is enormous. Quality, quantity, and special orders all impact the price. Establish a budget as part of your exhibit marketing plan. Consider ordering the same item for several different shows to get the best price.

What must visitors do to qualify for a gift item?

It can be a reward for participating in a demonstration, a token of appreciation when visitors have given you qualifying information, or a thank-you for stopping at the booth. Avoid leaving items out for just anyone to take.

How will you inform your target audience about your giveaway?

A novel or useful giveaway can help to draw prospects to your booth. Send a "tickler" invitation with details of the giveaway, or create a two-piece premium, sending one part out to key prospects prior to the show and telling them to collect the other half at your booth.

How will you measure the effectiveness of your premium? Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your giveaway. If it is a redemption item, code it so that you know it resulted from the show. Post-show follow-up could include a question about the premium—did visitors remember receiving it, and how useful was the item.

Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, is author of "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," and works with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting, and training. Visit www.thetradeshowcoach.comto sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.