10 Tips for Avoiding Promotional Product Waste, Disappointment and Mistakes at Your Next Trade Show

trade show

10 Tips for Avoiding Promotional Product Waste, Disappointment and Mistakes at Your Next Trade Show

A lot goes into a successful trade show experience and every business wants to receive a profitable return on their show investment. Aside from the show itself the most important thing to remember is that most of the work for marketing is in the preparation and implementation leading up to the show.

This is particularly true when it comes to the promotional products (baseball hats, pens, cups, etc.) offered in your booth or at any time during the event. By putting adequate time and thought into the process, you can avoid the pitfalls of a poorly executed and costly, promotional giveaway.

Here are 10 ways to assure success:


  1. DON’T ORDER WITHOUT A PLAN: Don’t get swept away by a sales rep pawning the latest, coolest new promo item. Without a clear strategy, you risk negative ROI from your promotional budget and your campaign can end up a total waste of money. So plan ahead and know what you’re going for within the overall campaign, the brand impression you want to make or the interaction and experience you want attendees to have before you place an order.


  1. CREATE YOUR STRATEGY: Ask ”What do we want to achieve?” Name recognition is only one goal, so consider what’s possible beyond that. Once you have an objective in mind, choosing the right items becomes easier. Do you want your items to make a splash at the show?  Do you want the promo item to have a long shelf life making lots of impressions over the years? Or be very utilitarian for your audience so when they associate with it they feel you’re helping them?  These are just a few ways to approach your strategy.


  1. APPEAL TO YOUR CUSTOMERS: Promotional items that don’t fit your target customers’ tastes or lifestyle can backfire – confusing or even alienating them. So be mindful about who they are and cater to their preferences and lifestyles.


  1. CHOOSE RELEVANT, REUSABLE ITEMS: The last thing you want to see at the end of a long day are your promotional items in the trash. Make sure they’re not only relevant, but well made, too. Promotional items reward your investment when sturdy and useful enough to be used repeatedly over a long period. Such items not only enhance awareness, but create a positive association with your brand.


  1. AVOID CRAMMING TOO MUCH INFORMATION: Don’t ruin a promo item by making it difficult to read. Keep things simple and only provide the basics. Name, website and/or phone number is often enough.  If the text, logo or images are too small you’ll miss an opportunity for that impression.