Trade shows can seem like an arena of competitors all battling for the most contacts and sales. Instead of entering the battle armed with swords and shields, exhibitors show up with eye-catching, unique displays, worthy giveaways, and a team of matching booth attendants.
In an arena with close to a hundred competitors, it’s often difficult to stay afloat in the competition let alone, lead it. To help you survive and meet the goals you’ve set for attending, we’ve compiled our best practices for using branded promotional materials, better known as company swag, at trade shows.
You need both! If you rely too heavily on literature, you risk presenting the front that your company is solely concerned with its products. That may not sound so bad to you, but have you ever had the experience of talking to someone you just met who can’t seem to hold a conversation about anything unless it relates back to them in some way? The same thing can be said of companies that only come armed with literature. They appear to only want to talk about themselves rather than provide that extra level of value for interested leads.
What can happen if you only show up with swag? Your booth is definitely going to have a fun vibe, but that’s about it. Lots of swag can mean that a booth isn’t seriously interested in talking business. It also means that your booth may get bombarded with people who are just interested in picking up a piece of cool swag, rather than learning about your company and its services.
It’s important to have a good mix of both at your booth. Save your literature for high quality leads and use your swag items to attract the right kinds of prospects. See section 3 for more detail about how to accomplish this.
When it comes to swag there are lots of products to choose from. You can go small like branded pens or keychains or go big with phone cases or a chance to win a kayak. The key to deciding what to order is thinking about how a person is going to use the item. One that we see all the time are branded golf balls. Now let me ask you, what happens to golf balls when you use them? If the lead is a pro golfer this probably never happens, but for the majority of business people out there, it’s common to lose a certain number of golf balls per game. Now that swag you were hoping to serve as a constant reminder of your company is gone.
Think hard about how people will use these items and what part of the item they are going to be looking at the most. If you brand an umbrella for example, usually your logo appears on the exterior of the shade. This means the user won’t see it very often, but the rest of the world will. Is it more important for that lead to see it or for your brand to get seen by many?
Make sure you think through what swag you want to represent your company and how a lead will interact with it.
One tactic we suggest using is spending a little bit more on big-ticket swag items to save for your qualified leads. These items should be used for prospects that you know have a high interest in your product/service and are likely to buy. Having a valuable swag item to present to these leads shows them your business is serious about doing all that it can to deliver on its service/product.
You don’t have to spend a large amount on these items, as you should not be bringing a lot of them. Remember these should only be presented to the leads that you feel confident you will be hearing back from.
We’ve talked a lot about swag and what kinds you should be planning to bring to the floor, but keep in mind that these items should be used sparingly. Many companies make the mistake of using company swag to attract visitors to their booth. They have booth attendants handing out swag to the people that pass by. It is true that swag is a major pull to the passerby, but do you really want to talk to the person who was going to walk by your booth until they saw a gorgeous pen they just couldn’t ignore? Probably not.
Swag often attracts the wrong kinds of leads. Most of the serious, high-quality leads want to know about the details of your product/service, not collect the latest and greatest pen. When you use swag to attract the wrong kinds of leads, your sales reps will waste their time trying to convert a prospect who isn’t serious about what you have to offer.
Use swag to keep your brand at top of mind with qualified leads and keep it within the booth. Most likely only those who’d like to talk about your business will venture inside to receive the swag.
Arm yourself with the right weapons. It’s hard to stand out in the trade show sphere, but having the right kinds of branded material and using them properly will ensure that your booth attracts your ideal leads.