Not allocating sufficient time to exhibit
Many companies still make decisions to invest thousands of dollars in a major trade show and do not leave themselves sufficient time to plan and coordinate this effort. Under these conditions they end up making decisions in panic, and managing in crisis. A company needs to investigate, discuss, plan, coordinate and commit to all the facets of a trade show if they expect to have a successful trade show experience. Considering that only 15% of the exhibitors at any trade show are successful, it is important that a company has sufficient time and that everyone within the organization is aware of the importance of this effort.
You cannot and should not consider doing a trade show and not giving yourself and other members of the company sufficient time to get their act together. What I mean by this is, if you have products to display, you need to get with manufacturing, production or engineering so that you can put on display the best possible product that really shows the true capabilities of your company. Just displaying any old thing that you had in the back room certainly does not give a positive message to either the company employees, or the attendees at the trade show that will be looking at equipment. How will the presentation of the company person in the booth go? “Well, this is not our latest equipment, this is what we had available” What are you telling the prospect that has stopped to look at your products? This company has so much business, they really are not interested in new clients, or they really don’t care. What type of effort, and how does your company approach going to a trade show?
One: First thing at almost all trade show tables given away is candy. A big bowl of candy is in front of your table with Hershey’s or Lifesavers or hard candies. What good and lasting effects what this does for you. A great item is Tootsie Rolls, but it does nothing for your company. If your giving pre wrapped hard candy get your name on it. There are a bunch of companies who do that. Ones I like best are done by Mid Nite Snax candies. They make great lifesavers with your logo on them. Best of all candies are the ones by a company called Lanco. It’s the AL100 a 1 inch by 1 inch candy either in milk chocolates or Dark chocolates. with a hint of raspberry in it. Now how do you choose which one to give out? Simple if your giving out to a men’s group Milk chocolates is best. If it’s a women group Dark chocolate is great. Cost factor is about .20 per unit, plus a set up charge. Your name is imprinted on this and what a hit your company will be. If they taste the candy expect a return visit for more. Credit Card mints are great also- depending on how much you want to spend. Mid Nite Snax again has a 4 color unit that is great for color logos – Lanco has a nice simple one color unit. This candy is proven in my stores. People kid me as they give me there order they are here really for the candy.
Key Chains—I had a customer wanting to give out key chains. Now here is the problem with key chains. Just because I gave you a key chain, am I going to switch all my keys over to your chain, because you gave it to me? Not happening – it’s going to the junk draw when the person opens their information bags. A nice lanyard is good but again how many people are going to switch keys. Do not waste your money on this item.
Pens- A topic I love so much- Pens are a great giveaway but there are rules about pens. A cheap pen is a cheap pen. If you give out a cheap pen do you have a cheap company? The life of a cheap pen is about 3 days, before it goes to a junk draw. A great pen can cost you a dollar, from $.97 to $1.40 each or more. A nice metal with some weight to it and the rubber grip, laser engraved, pen with your logo and website on it. The life of that pen is 6 months. Key is remembering to give the pen to the person, not just having them out on the table to grab. Gold Star and All American make nice pens as well as Hub. A nice pen has to have balance in your hand as well as some weight. I have given out many pens in my past. Most of what I giveaway has been a nice metal pen by All American and Hub Pens. People love those and I see my clients using them for months. So my name is just with the client. I have also given out pens that light up as well. Clients use them for a year, until the batteries wear out. Great part about that is the clients still talk about them. Talk to your promotional specialist and have him get samples to show you.
You should be using a 6 week set up time for samples and picking the pen you need.
Stress Balls – now here is an item that is going direct to the junk draw. But let’s talk about what its saying about your company. Is it stressful to deal with you?
I had a Mortgage broker and a real estate broker both use stress balls in the shape of a house. I felt they were saying that dealing with them will be a stressful event and you need the ball to calm yourself. The best stress balls are made by a company called Jetline. So if you must go for this item, look for their catalog from your promotional person. Jetline has lots of great shapes and themes.
What do I recommend instead for this field- that is easy, it’s a bank. Your saying dealing with us can help you save.
Coffee cups - and mugs and water bottles a dime a dozen and who is going to change their mug for yours for their morning coffee. To ship these items to your booth is going to send your booth costs high as well. Damage to items can also happen. But again if you must look at coffee mugs Custom Crest makes a nice one and water bottles by Humphrey or Goldbond.
Ok, so I gave you items not to use, now here are some items to consider to give out.
Sewing kits. Yes sewing kits are great. Women take them and put them in their pocket books and men put them in the top draw at work to help them if they need to sew on a button that came loose. It’s a quick repair kit, and your name is in the clients hands when he needed it most. By the way they, might even comeback and buy something else with your name is in front of them.
Tape measure- small round tape measure is great item. You need the 6 foot units not the 3 footers. Women again put them in there pocketbooks and measure everything with them. Real Estate brokers and those doing remodeling can use this great giveaway as the person is going ahead and doing remodeling and measuring everything. Women with children are always measuring the waists of the kids to see clothing sizes. So this is one item that will bring your name to the client time and time again. CPS and Lanco make nice units.
Pill boxes for the right kind of trade show are another good item. For senior expos and trade shows, they are always a wanted needed item. Evans makes some of the best around. From $.60 to $1.50 let’s face it your name is in front of them, every day.
At one of our conventions we have a company called High Sierra and they put out a line of shirts. Each year at the conventions for promotional products whose booth has the longest line? You got it, High Sierra. The Featherlike shirt has been given out for years now. Each year they have a new colored shirt. If you’re wearing the shirt and they see you with it on the convention floor you win $100.00, so everyone is wearing these shirts over their clothing. 40 to 50 people are waiting on line all day for these shirts. The overall talk on the line is what color the shirt is going to be this year. How do they get to give you their shirt? You have to go through a maze of speeches about the new lines of clothing. They tell you who is carrying the shirt and who can help you get their new line. After 15 minutes in the booth and 20 minutes on line you get your shirt in your size. Everyone puts on the shirt from that point. 500 people at the convention with have this shirt on, at anyone time. To me that is power and you get clients to remember you. By the way I have the Blue, Demon, Yellow and Green, missed the Purple and Red.
Next use the same ideas for your company. Get something for the people to wear about your company and have a person roaming the show floor, giving out $20.00 bills. It’s as simple as a sticker or a flashing button. Get known for doing this.
One company did a great promotion at a show – he makes key chains in the shape of a pill. Inside the pill he stuff from $1.00 to 20.00 and you have to pick one out of the hat. Before you do, you have to hear his speech. He had me for 5 minutes of time and gave me a pill box. I won a dollar. But I remembered him.
If you’re giving away lots of flyers get canvas bags to give away. Put your logo on the bag and pre load the bags with your items. Again keep the bags behind the counter so the person has to talk to you and get the sample. Canvas bags are not that bad when it comes to prices, and if you have a booth person giving them to people with overloaded plastic bags, they remember. Nicer bags get used over and over.
Having a nice item hidden behind your display is also great. You’re going to see a lot of your better clients at a show, this is a great time to say to say “thank you” for their work you have done for the past year. Having items like USB memory sticks with your company logo on them or a nicer pen is great, even a mag- light, or a digital photo display.
Office items bring your name to the desk and it stays on a client’s desk for a long time.
Staplers - (tag master) – letter openers- paperclip dispensers- staple removers’ Pacific line makes a nice one of those.
Candy Jars - are great also as a give away. Your name stay with clients and the candy goes on the desk. I have found jars I gave my clients 5 years ago still in use. I use a 16oz jar that I get from Benner Glass.
Paper cubes are wonders to get your name out – it goes on the desk and your name goes on both the outside on all 4 sides and the left hand corner of the sheet of paper. I like Post it or American Cube. Problem with paper cubes is weight, and shipping this to a show could be expensive.
Other good office items, letter openers, paperclip holders, staplers, staple removers, and small screw driver sets. Great items and will get used by your clients, and light weight to transport.
Always give away something new at each trade show. You can stick to a theme, but remember to give the item to the attendee at the booth. Say thanks for stopping at my booth, and I have a gift for you.
Don’t give away shirts with your name on it unless you’re in the shirt business or hats with your company name on it. You’re not a hat company. Hats with names on them are good at a golf outing with the outing name on it. Your name is second. Simple is real good.
So what do you do from here, how do we plan. You need a game plan. Start with date of your event. Two months out plan what you’re going to do. Meet with your promotional person. Have them come back in a week with ideas for you and samples of items. Next meet with your embroidery company. Do not go to an ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute) person for this. Go direct to an embroidery company. All promotional companies say they can get this work done for you; save money go direct. Companies like mine are embroidery companies and ASI companies. We do the direct embroidery. In some parts of the country you have small embroidery companies like Embroider Me. Look for your local small company for good service. Set real time goals. Look at production times and find what it takes in real time to make the giveaways and ship to you. Remember your paying for shipping as well. Over night shipping is costly. Real planning, real times and dealing with a promotional person who can really help you. Set your budget and know what you want to spend on your giveaways.
The trade show directory can be a major marketing tool for any company providing they do their home work and list the relevant information.
The information listed in the directory should be clear enough so that if someone wants to contact the company they will contact someone in sales that is familiar with the specific trade show and can answer any questions pertaining to what was offered by the company at the trade Show. The information should consist of company name, location, products or services on display that follow the theme of the show, but most of all identify someone with in the organization as the person to contact regarding company product information that listed in the directory. If possible, put the name of one of the sales or marketing managers who did participate in the trade show, and perhaps even stood booth duty.
Some companies use the directory to their advantage in the sense that they want to keep track of all leads that came from a specific trade shows. Trade show directory are usually taken back to the attendees office to use as a reference guide. They use it to see who of their competitors exhibited at the trade show. They review other companies’ information to see who introduced new products. Just because the trade show is over does not mean that you will not get some residual effects from have good information on you company listed in the trade show directory.
If you want to do business, make it easy for someone to contact you. If the person calling your organization, and is put though a series of questions to get someone in the sales department, it doesn’t start off the relationship with your company on a positive note. But if a person calls your organization, and has a name of a person to contact the caller will feel more comfortable, and you as the person in the sales department will know exactly what they are calling about.
Make the trade show directory work for your company. The attendees may throw away the majority of the literature that they pick up at the booths they visit, but the trade show directory, in most cases, will be with them long after the trade show is finished.