Q&A: Do I Need to Give a Promotional Product To Everyone That Comes By Our Booth at a Trade Show?

  • Jul 22, 2015

Should Everyone That Comes By Your Booth at a Convention or Trade Show Get a Promotional Product?

Austin, Texas: I get this question a great deal about trade show marketing: Do I Need to Give a Promotional Product To Everyone That Comes By Our Booth at a Trade Show?

Short Answer: Not necessarily!

Long Answer: See below:

Before you exhibit at a trade show, you first need to think about your target audience.

Then, decide on your objective when meeting this type of client or buyer.

After qualifying someone that walks into your booth, decide if they are a potential hot lead, warm lead, cold lead or not at all your type of prospect.

Remember, not all trade show attendees are equal in terms of purchasing potential so why treat them all the same.

If you have a dump bin in front of your booth with low cost promotional items, you will be attracting everyone and anyone–most of whom will most likely be cold or non-leads.

What a waste of time and money!

I suggest having three types of promotional products or swag in your booth- but not necessarily on display.

1) Top Tier Gifts: Reserve these for existing clients, hot leads and invited guests.  It is always wise to do a pre-show mailing to select clients.  These top tier gifts can easily be $25-$50 or more– as you are trying to make a lasting impression and/or thank these people for past business or stopping by.  Some of the most popular Top Tier gifts have been high end imprinted power chargers, promotional selfie sticks, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, debossed padfolios and imprinted computer backpacks.

This is not the area to cut your budget on.

2) Mid-Level Gifts: These are for warm prospects that have shown a certain level of interest and have possibly scheduled a follow up call or visit in the coming weeks.

For these clients, depending on the profit margin of your product or service, we have seen such promotional products as  imprinted phone chargers, logo stainless steel water bottles, and journal books.

These promotional products should be of substantial quality ad they will be used and displayed by these prospects while you are trying to follow up.

3) Lower Level Gifts: For this category, there is the most debate as to what constitutes a recipient of this promotional gift group category.

If you have a dump bin, you pretty much have to give something to everyone–so make it nice but inexpensive–like a promotional stylus pen or microfiber cloth with your logo.

My suggestion is to try to keep these Tier 3 promotional gifts behind a pedestal or counter to make it less obvious and to not create a circus atmosphere.

If someone asks for a Tier 3 gift for themselves (and of course, for their mother), you will most likely want to make them happy by handing them the promotional gifts as you gently escort them out of your booth.

We have found that non-prospects seem to take up the most time from newbie salespeople, as they often act interested just to get your swag freebie. For them a firm handshake, a smile, and a “thank you for stopping by” as you hand them your promotional gift and lead them out of your trade show booth works wonders.

Don’t let your booth fill up with non-buyers and freebie-hounds.  Get them outside of your booth with the greatest of ease with Tier 3 promotional gifts, and keep your booth filled with actual prospects and buyers.

I suggest in terms of dollar spend, you budget 30% for Top Tier Gifts, 50% of your budget for mid-level gifts and 20% of your budget for Tier 3 gifts.  Your quantities will be much lower for Top Tier gifts and the promotional gifts should be much nicer. For Tier 3, don’t sacrifice on quality but definitely limit your budget to about $1 or so–max.

By  narrowly defining your target audience at your trade show or convention, you can quickly categorize the type of attendee that walks into your booth.

Make it memorable.

Make the gift useful so it will be used over and over again.

Keep it small and not too heavy.

Have fun.

Happy promoting!


  • Category: Trade Shows
  • Tags: promotional gifts, promotional products for trade shows, promotional selfie sticks, Should Everyone That Comes By Your Booth at a Convention or Trade Show Get a Promotional Product?, trade show market