Trade Show Strategy: Exhibiting giveaways – branding vs. sales

May 8th, 2008 by Frank Damelio

dreamstime_4292517“Our flat-screen TV booth prize was a huge success”.

“Man, we raffled off Red Sox tickets and a flat-screen at our booth – what a disaster”.

Quotes from two of my trade show clients who told me what they had done in the past to generate exhibit traffic.  Why the difference?  Show type and primary objective.

The first case was a success for two reasons.  It was an industry-specific show where the vast majority of visitors comprised the exhibitor’s target market.  An example of this type of show is a dental conference, in which almost every attendee has an interest in dentistry.  The second reason for success was that the company was aiming to build brand recognition.  The flat-screen TV pulled in the masses, who then saw the exhibitor’s logo, heard the company’s tag line and signed up for the prize.  These visitors then received follow-up underscoring the company’s message and showcasing the logo.

In the second case, the flat-screen and sports tickets were a wasted investment.  It was a general show. For example, a home show attracts some visitors looking for candy and others looking for a kitchen remodeler.  In addition, the exhibitor was looking to make sales from prospects interested in his product. He later lamented that he had a whole bunch of leads for a television; painfully few were interested in his product.  This exhibitor would have faired far better if he offered a high-value giveaway from his own product line.  In this case, it would have selectively attracted prospects.

It’s interesting that broad-appeal products work best in focused trade shows and specific-appeal products are more effective in broader shows.

It is my experience that, in general, larger companies are less concerned with generating hard-sales from a show as compared to medium and smaller companies.  This is partly because larger companies see branding as facilitating sales down the line.  Smaller companies do not have this luxury.

The trick is to consider the show type and objective before launching into your giveaway strategy.  If you are promoting copier services at a business expo – think twice about giving away David Copperfield tickets, unless you want to see your profits vanish.  A nifty prize might be $400 worth of toner for the winner’s copy machines.  You’ll probably leave the show with significantly less leads than the exhibitor across from you who pulled in the masses with fancy electronics.  That’s good, because your sales staff will be calling on a handful of qualified leads, while the other guy’s sale staff will quickly grow discouraged from following up on a mountain of junk.

We invite you to share your experiences with prizes and giveaways right here.

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2 Responses to “Trade Show Strategy: Exhibiting giveaways – branding vs. sales”

  1. Ray Frias Says:

    Great advice! Sometimes in our effort to generate traffic/leads little thought is given to the quality of the traffic/leads. Always maintaining a strategic focus in any marketing/promotional efforts is a critical element to success.

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