Welcome to my annual Trade Show Marketing Giveaways list of unique ideas. This list is based on what our customers are asking for, trend analysis shared by industry experts, and deep research on what your audiences actually want.
As 2020 brought a year of unprecedented changes to tradeshows and events, I’ve updated this list to help you pivot in 2021. Even as live events begin to return, the perfect trade show giveaway has changed. Influenced by the rise in corporate gift boxes and virtual conferences, promotional product trends have shifted focus to quality over quantity.
Trade show giveaways can no longer be cheap, throw-away items. Whether it’s a virtual or in-person tradeshow, the key is to choose high-quality gifts that truly delight. That might mean buying less items, and being more strategic about who you give your giveaways to. Either way, the key is to remain focused on delighting your customers with high-quality gifts that reflect your company and your brand.
The Return of In-Person Trade Shows
In-person trade shows have returned - with some key differences. Smaller, more focused events are expected to be the norm. Why? There’s a couple of different reasons.
First, it’s still going to take a bit of time before thousands of people can safely meet together. Smaller events with a more niche audience will be preferred to control crowd size. Second, budgets have decreased for in-person events. Event planners are navigating this change by reducing the number of events they attend, and instead focusing on smaller, less expensive events.
This means there’s no longer a need to give out thousands of items. It makes investing in a smaller quantity of high-quality items a possibility - which moving forward will be a necessity. During the in-person event hiatus, people got used to high-quality gift boxes arriving at their doors. Now, as in-person events return, this expectation of gift-like quality giveaways will remain.
Tech items are always a high-quality favorite. This type of tradeshow giveaway is a premium gift that has longevity. Another trend we’ve been seeing is fun and creative food gifts. We’re not just talking about chocolates here. Think outside the box and give attendees something they can’t just find anywhere. A healthy snack will be appreciated during a busy afternoon of event sessions, or a clever treat tied into your brand can leave a memorable impression.
Virtual Trade Shows are Here to Stay
Even with the return of live events, virtual trade shows will continue to play an important role in any marketing strategy. This has also led to a shift in the typical trade show giveaway.
As products have to be shipped, instead of simply handed out, companies are looking to choose high-quality items that can easily be sent to attendees. Companies are also looking for products that will inspire action, emotion, and loyalty for their brand - not just another trinket with a logo in it. The need for brands to form a personal connection with customers has never been higher, and giveaways are helping recreate this human experience even in the virtual world.
I still believe that handing out or shipping cost-effective promos for trade shows is essential for generating a high volume of brand exposure. But today, your promo items need to have a higher perceived value in order to capture that brand connection.
Here is my 2021 list of popular unique trade show giveaways that will help you think beyond the pen and make a big impact on everyone who visits your booth - in-person or virtually.
1. Crumbee Desktop Vacuum
As employees return to the office, there’s a renewed priority on workspace cleanliness. This miniature desktop vacuum, known as the Crumbee, is one of the top trending promotional products of the year. Recipients will love how it makes it easy to keep their desks clean, organized, and crumb-free.
The Crumbee is small enough to fit into the palm of your hand and is completely wireless. Plus it features a 360 degrees rotatable design, for tight corners and hard-to-reach areas. It is operated by two double-A batteries that offer up to 100 minutes of continuous clean time. When the vacuum gets full, just pop off the bottom and empty the contents into the trash.
Customize it with a full-color digital imprint on epoxy dome and this unique trade show giveaway will make your brand pop.
2. Snack Cube
A snack cube, like this gummy bear cube, is one unique take on an edible trade show giveaway. It can serve as the perfect snack to hand out during an in-person trade show or a fun way to incorporate breaks during a virtual trade show. Individually packaged in a clear container, this snack cube will keep your food item away from germ-filled hands. Plus, your attendees will love that they can reuse the conveniently sized 2.3 x 2.3 inch cube container, giving some extra exposure to your giveaway.
Customize it with a 4-color process label that showcases your brand’s logo or custom artwork plus gummy bears customized to your brand’s colors. Or, you can choose a different snack item like apple rings, jelly beans, or goldfish crackers. We recommend staying away from the chocolate options, as these can melt, especially in the warmer months.
3. Scented Silly Putty
One of the biggest benefits of tradeshow giveaways during virtual events is the added engagement they can offer to your attendees. This scented silly putty, known as aroma putty, is a great way to incorporate a stress-relieving break into your event or just add a fun and interactive activity for participants.
Made out of a special scented material, this putty will keep hands busy and ease the mind as attendees enjoy stretching, squeezing, and sniffing it. It comes in six refreshing flavors: orange, grape, mango, watermelon, green apple and blue raspberry. Make it your own by personalizing the container with a full-color label.
4. Branded Journal
It may seem simple, but writing journals are currently in high demand, especially among millennials. Despite the rise in technology, planners and notebooks have risen in sales over the past few years. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that retailers like Target and Michaels have dedicated more and more shelf space for paper planners and notebooks over the past year because of this increase in sales. Jump on this trend and impress both the younger and older generations by investing in a two-in-one set like this that includes both journal and pen.
This journal is hardcover bound and has a built-in elastic closure. With a color matching elastic pen loop and ribbon page marker, it will have your company looking sharp and on-brand. Plus, it offers a large imprint space for your logo or a message of your choice. Choose from several bold colors like lime, orange or pink.
5. Custom Water Bottle
Water bottles have always been a tradeshow giveaway staple. Yet, a cheap, plastic bottle will no longer cut it. Event attendees - whether in person or virtual - expect something more premium. This 24-ounce H2go stainless steel bottle is up for the challenge.
Insulated with a threaded lid, it’s designed to keep beverages cold. It’s made from 18/8 stainless steel making it both sturdy and durable. A matte powdered coated finish gives it a pop of color. Choose from professional-looking tones like navy, storm gray, black, red, or white. Personalize it with a regular spot color imprint or add a bit of shimmer with a glitz imprint option.
6. Custom Stress Ball
We’re not just talking about any old stress ball here. The stress buster is a unique take on a custom stress ball and will make your brand stand out from other giveaway items. Made with clear thermoplastic, this rubber ball is filled with colorful gel-filled beads and covered with a plush design that can be anything from an avocado to an emoji shape. The beads inside give a massaging feel when squeezed.
As people are sitting through more and more virtual meetings, the stress buster is a unique way to keep employees engaged. It offers an undisruptive way to keep ideal hands busy during those endless Zoom calls.
Choose between a variety of different shapes that resonate most with your business. Plus, customize it with your brand’s logo or message via pad print technology.
7. Custom Stylus Pen
We always like to say “think beyond the pen”. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a pen can’t make a good trade show giveaway. When you combine the right features with a premium item, a branded pen can lead to a very useful and professional-looking brand activation tool. That’s why we love this metallic stylus pen.
It has a modern design with metal-inspired elements, a soft-touch rubberized barrel, and silver ring accents. Plus a handy pocket clip will allow trade show attendees to take it with them as they browse from table to table. Flip it around and the pen can be used as a stylus for electronic devices, making it also a good option for virtual trade shows. You can choose from three premium shades like rose gold, gunmetal or silver. Your logo, emblem or message will look professional in a laser engraved imprint.
8. Eco-Friendly Bamboo Bento Box
As more and more people head back to the office, lunch containers are useful and in high demand. Plus they are a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic items. This particular bento box is made out of a natural bamboo material making it a truly eco-friendly option. It comes with two storage containers with built-in utensils between compartments. The lid can also double as a cutting board for fresh fruit or veggies. Clip it all together for an easy on-the-go lunch with the included strap. Customize it by adding your laser imprinted logo to the top for a professional, branded giveaway item.
If you're looking to level up your cause-related marketing strategy as a business, this bento box is one excellent option. It’s part of the Ecosmart product line where one percent of all sales go toward nonprofits dedicated to protecting the planet.
The Touch Tool is a new and unique giveaway that will show your trade show attendees that you truly care about their needs in this new normal. It’s a small and compact tool that helps users avoid contact with highly touched surfaces like door handles and buttons. The Touch Tool allows anyone to press, pull, and turn objects safely. Plus, it’s an object that users won’t want to leave the house without, making it a giveaway that provides maximum brand exposure.
Available in durable, high-strength ABS plastic or in solid, antimicrobial brass, this tool can be easily attached to keys for quick and easy access. It can be customized with a full-color edge-to-edge imprint or engraved into the brass material.
Use These Inspiring Trade Show Giveaways to Maximize Your Marketing Strategy
The return of in-person tradeshows is certainly exciting. But it’s hard to predict exactly how long it will take for things to look exactly the way they used to. Our best advice is to plan for a mixture of in-person and virtual trade shows. When selecting products, keep both of these event types in mind. Your trade show giveaways should be more strategic than ever before and should honor the recipient in a personal way.
Think about fewer high-quality items that are highly personal and premium. These types of trade show giveaways will have you one step closer to maximizing your marketing strategy with strategically chosen gifts.