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The 5 Types of Trade Show Handouts You Should Never Give Away

May 7, 2020 3 min read

We all know that branded promotional products are essential for a successful trade show experience; that fact is undisputed. However, you can’t just slap your logo on any old promotional product and call it a day. You must be strategic in selecting handouts for trade shows because the giveaways you present to potential customers ultimately reflect your brand.

After all, once the trade show is said and done, the promotional products you gave away will serve as a sole reminder of your business in the minds of prospective clients. Trade show giveaways carry more weight than you may think!

In my years as a brand specialist, I’ve learned that there are certain giveaways that just don’t cut it for trade shows. Here are 5 types of trade show handouts that you should never give away.

1. Super cheap, completely budget-driven items

You may think you’re cutting costs and benefiting your company by ordering cheap promotional products for your next trade show, but in reality, you’re doing more damage than good. Keep in mind, there is a difference between cheap and inexpensive. Cheap promotional products are characterized by poor quality and design in addition to their low price tag. You should never give away cheap items at trade shows because they reflect poorly on your brand for a couple of reasons:

Your team is uninspired with your giveaways.

You don't want your team to promote your brand with cheap products that people don't really need. Choose effective promotional products that your team will be proud to promote at your next trade show.

Cheap promotions don't maximize your ROI.

If you don’t give away an item that’s useful, prospects aren’t likely to react positively. In fact, they might even throw the item away. Prospects don’t need or want a cheap item that just takes up space and has no use.

Cheap products can break easily.

If you find an item that’s too good to be true, there’s likely a reason why. Beware of promotional items that are made of substandard material--they won't last long.

2. A pile of low-quality items

If companies are ordering promotional items solely based on price, they can be inclined to order more than one product to add variety to their giveaways. Many people think that more giveaways equals a higher perception of thei rbrand. However, in the case of trade shows, less is more.

Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. A pile of bad items isn’t as effective as one great item. Prospects would much rather receive one useful promotional product than a handful of random ones. In fact, people are likely to keep promotional items for longer when the product is useful, according to ASI's 2016 Global Impressions Study.

3. Anything loud or noisy

Unless you’re going to a trade show for carnivals, there’s no need to give out promotional products that make sound. Sure, funny promotional products can be appropriate for some occasions, but trade shows certainly aren’t one of them. The last thing you want is to add to the cacaphony of sound going on around you and distract potential customers from speaking with you about your offerings.

4. Anything that flies

Frisbees can be fun, effective giveaways for college fairs, college orientations, or outdoor events, but flying items just aren’t appropriate for trade shows. Using this type of giveaway could make it seem like your company isn’t taking the event or prospective clients seriously. Plus, other attendees or exhibitors may not appreciate any near misses that could occur from over-zealous attendees playing catch with your giveaways!

5. Any item that doesn't have a plan

Just because you think an item is cool and useful doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a strategic promotional plan behind it. Trade show handouts should reflect your brand in order to do what promotional products do best:

  • Maximize ROI
  • Facilitate brand exposure
  • Increase favorable opinions of your brand
  • Generate impressions

So, don’t just pick a promotional item because it’s trendy. Your trade show handouts should relate to your brand’s products and services and serve a purpose like the goals outlined above.

Now that you know the kinds of trade show giveaways not to hand out, you can see that choosing trade show handouts requires strategic thinking on the part of your brand. It’s important to consult with a brand specialist to make sure you’re making the most of your budget with worthwhile promotional items that will further your marketing.

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This post was originally published June 1, 2016