As a marketer, I know that trade shows and conferences are often central to getting in front of prospects in the area (and beyond!), as well as being a great way to connect with consumers on a deeper, more personal level. Having great content to share with attendees is the obvious first step to developing your game plan, right? But that’s not all you’re going to need.

The physical promotional products you’ll need to bring in order to make an impression often end up being an afterthought.

Both content and promotional products are equally important, of course, but many times the physical representation of your brand is set on the back burner. So, what can you do to make an impression and spark more conversation with the hundreds of people you will encounter?


One of the most impactful portions of your trade show strategy will be your booth. Booth displays have come a long way and are no longer just tables lined up in a convention center space with a company logo on them, with a pile of sad pens off to the side. These structures can be as complex or simple as you want, but the options are truly endless. They can create the feeling of exclusivity for anyone who visits your booth with private conference areas, great for any industry where privacy or information security is important and you may prefer to speak in an isolated area.

It is also a great place to connect with any customer in an intimate setting, regardless of the context of the conversation. They also provide a company with endless opportunity to display their brand, with hanging sign options, branding locations on the walls of the structure and monitors that can be added to the exterior of the booths to capture the attention of your audience. These booths have evolved to adapt to consumer needs and allow a company to put their best food forward and catch the eyes of the crowds.


Another way to set your company apart from the other vendors in attendance is to develop a very structured and thought-out plan for the giveaways at the event. There are the typical trinkets that you are exhaustingly overused, but in order to stand out you need to make sure your product is three things: useful, of good quality and long-lasting. Personally, I know I’m not usually one to pick up anything from vendors at trade shows at all. So even if I connect with a brand, if you want me to keep you top-of-mind once I’m out the door, you’ll have to create something pretty special to motivate me to snag one for myself. (And I doubt I’m the only one who thinks this way.)

In addition, the item you give should represent your company and should be tied to the theme of the event. It can be an industry-specific item or be catered to the audience you know will attend. For example, maybe you’ve identified your audience personas as being golf enthisuasts, so a tiny put-for-prizes set up and a “hole-in-one!” theme might be a great way to tie your booth theme and giveaway together.

But no matter what you choose, it must be something that catches a consumers eye and encourages them to spread the word about your booth, which brings me to my next trade show trinket tip…

“Viral” Campaigns

The goal of any trade show strategy is to gain visibility, make connections and, most importantly, drive leads that translate into measurable ROI. The best way to do this is to encourage the attendees to do this for you. But how? Simply by appealing to our most basic human instincts.

One way is to dangle a high-value shiny object before their eyes. Or you could put a twist on the traditional raffle, giving booth visitors a wristband with multiple removable tabs on it. You tear off one tab for raffle entry and put the bracelet on their wrist. You then tell them that for each additional person that they bring to the booth increases their odds of winning. Maybe a visitor gets one entry and has three tabs left on their bracelet. They can then bring three new visitors to the booth for extra entries. The three visitors then get a bracelet and bring three more each. This exponentially increases the chances that you will have visitors.

This is just one idea, of course. You can put your own spin on the campaign experience, based on what you want to create. The point here is to think like your prospects. What would really interest them? What attracts attention? How can you leverage gamefication strategies so you and your connections-to-be win?

Final Thought

As integral as they may be to marketing strategies, trade shows are still unfairly maligned as a necessary evil, where proper attention isn’t given, and marketers are perfectly content to just “check the box.”

“As integral as they may be to marketing strategies, trade shows are still unfairly maligned as a necessary evil.”

The approach for your physical appearance at a trade show is not a difficult concept, but it does require some deal of thought to ensure that the image you are exibiting fully represents your company’s values, standards and ideals. Stay tuned for other avenues that will help you streamline your online presence with your physical promotional offerings! But until then, what are some of the best trade show strategies you’ve seen? What’s the best giveaway or booth that sticks out in your memory and why? Share in the comments!

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