Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 and has been updated with fresh ideas to inspire your trade show marketing in 2018.
Since I first posted this article a couple of years ago, promotional product trends have shifted. Companies are focusing on giveaways that support their overall marketing strategy, connect with their audience, and elevate their brand. Of course, there are some aspects of the perfect trade show giveaway that will never change: they need to be budget-friendly, easy to transport, and attractive to potential booth visitors.
Think Beyond the Pen
An emerging promotional product trend for 2018 is that prospects are expecting higher-quality giveaways. I still believe that handing out cost-effective promos at trade shows is essential for generating a high volume of brand exposure. But today, your promo items need to have a higher perceived value to attract quality leads to your trade show booth. Brand awareness is important, but leaving the trade show with a full list of highly qualified business leads is even better.
Here is my updated list of favorite unique trade show giveaways that will help you think beyond the pen and make a big impact on everyone who visits your booth.
This trendy, multi-use mobile accessory is quickly rising in popularity among trade show exhibitors and attendees alike. PopSockets adhere to the back of your smartphone or tablet with a rinseable gel and can be used as a phone stand or grip. Be sure to mention to prospects that this stand is ideal for texting or video chatting to make it applicable to their lifestyle. Leverage full color imprinting and brand this product to make for a worthwhile giveaway that will be useful to your recipients.
2. Smart Wallet for Mobile Devices
I have a Smart Wallet on my iPhone, and whenever I go out people are constantly asking me where I got it. This slim silicone pocket attaches to the outside of any mobile device and is perfect for storing driver’s licenses, credit cards, hotel keycards, business cards, and cash. It even protects card strips from deactivation. I love the Smart Wallet as a trade show giveaway item because it can be useful to attendees right away.
UPDATE: Since we first blogged about the Smart Wallet, this product has become one of our all-time most popular trade show giveaways!
3. Petite Loop Cell Phone Accessory
I discovered the Petite Loop at the PPAI Expo, the largest promotional products trade show in North America. I was walking the trade show floor and juggling armfuls of samples and catalogs, so managing my cell phone on top of all that was a challenge. The Petite Loop easily freed up one of my hands while still allowing me to keep my phone at the ready. I was instantly hooked!
This is a relatively new product to become a trade show giveaway, so it's sure to catch peoples' attention when you display it in your booth. This unique tech accessory works with any mobile phone that has a case; just tuck the ends of the ribbon in between the phone and the case.
4. Wood Tone Sunglasses
Looking for a stylish giveaway that feels high-end without going over budget? These promotional sunglasses are the ideal solution! With the perfectly on-trend wood grain pattern, sturdy frame constructed from polycarbonate, and soft rubberized finish, these sunglasses consistently impress recipients.
Bonus! Custom Microfiber Sunglass Pouch: Pair your sunglasses with a customizable full-color sunglass pouch. Not only will you help to protect your recipients' brand new shades from nicks and scratches, but the pouch instantly upgrades you presentation and makes your giveaway feel more like a gift.
5. Webcam Cover
Technology-focused promotional giveaways are always a popular choice, and this sleek, modern webcam cover is sure to become a go-to trade show giveaway. The product comes adhered to a fully customizable card where you can display your bold brand and messaging. The cover includes an easy-slide opening when you choose to use your camera, and a large adhesive area to ensure a firm grip on your device—works with laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Using our four-color process imprinting, prominently display a company name or logo to show customers that you've got them covered!
6. Microfiber Cloth
This soft microfiber cloth is ideal for cleaning smudges and fingerprints on your favorite devices and accessories. Versatile and portable, this cloth will quickly become a must-have for anyone with mobile phones, eyeglasses, sunglasses, cameras, tablets and other delicate surfaces. Your logo and branding will pop with a beautiful full color process imprint. Best of all, this product is available in custom shapes, sizes, edges and packaging to express your brand and meet your exact needs.
7. Luminous USB Car Charger Key Strap
Remind people of your brand every time they use their keys!The Luminous USB Car Charger Key Strap is the ultimate portable charger, since you never need to remember to bring it along. Available in several colors and measuring 4 3/4" x 1", this handy product is compatible with most standard cigarette lighter ports. Plus, the charger easily disconnects from your keyring for even simpler use.
8. Heathered Jersey Knit Noprene Koozie
You can really feel quality of this collapsible can insulator. It’s made of wetsuit material, not foam, making it more durable and fun to use than a typical promotional koozie. Thoughtful details on this product truly make your brand pop, like customizable colored stitching and room for your branding on the front, back, and all the way around!
9. Custom Pantone matched Socks
I don't think I've ever recommended an apparel item as a trade show giveaway, but hey - there's a first time for everything! I'm recommending logo socks as a trade show giveaway because they are inexpensive for an apparel item, yet highly effective for making big impressions.
Customers want apparel items they'll actually wear, and socks are a gift that universally pleases everyone. Just select up to three colors, and your socks will be custom-knit with a unique design. Use socks as trade show giveaways, but don't forget to order some pairs for your employees as well!
UPDATE: One of our clients who ordered socks from us as a trade show giveaway actually won an exhibitor award at a recent event for having the Best Promotional Products!
The key to the most successful trade show giveaways is finding something that hits the sweet spot between unique, attractive, and useful. These products are just a glimpse into the world of promotional products beyond the pen. For more ideas, explore our promo search website 🚀