Replacing Trade Show Giveaways with Promotions that work
For decades companies were satisfied to give away trade show premiums that built brand awareness and didn’t do much more. Company logos appeared on everything from camouflaged jackets to rubber ducks. Most ended up discarded or given away to friends and family. Now marketers are reexamining their strategies and replacing free gifts with promotions.
A promotion is an incentive to act – it is something that will directly generate qualified leads and drive sales.
Building a successful promotion
The first step is to define your target customer and decide what you are trying to accomplish. Every business wants to increase brand awareness but now marketers want promotions that also motivate an action. Do you want to get leads, get people to try your product, make sales at a show, drive people to your website, or generate retail traffic?
Once you have defined your goal, design a promotion to target your prospects. Don’t just give something to everyone who passes by your booth unless everyone is a great prospect. General giveaways generate unqualified leads and your real prospects will be hard to find in the mass of names gathered at the booth. Most sales reps won't even bother to follow up on any of the show leads because it is too hard to find the qualified prospects.
Structure the promotion in a way that starts a dialog with target customers and encourages follow-up conversations or contacts.
Does your promotion require a free gift, a sales incentive or both?
Some promotions work best with a sales incentive – discount coupons, gift certificates for future purchases, gift with purchase or other sales promotion offer. Some companies have found that combining a sales incentive with a premium giveaway is their unbeatable combination. Make sure to get your prospects’ names, email addresses and phone numbers, and some additional information that identifies the best prospects. If you choose to use a giveaway, capture the prospects’ names and contact information in exchange for these gifts. Also take the opportunity to ask one or two questions that will make the qualified prospects stand out.
Games, Drawings and Prizes
Games and drawings are very popular and will engage people. The trick is to design a contest that will appeal mostly to qualified prospects. The easiest way to create a focused game or drawing is to select a prize that will mostly interest a qualified prospect. So never give away money or TV sets. Instead think about giving away your product or a related item as a prize. Then increase participation in the contest by giving away lots of prizes throughout the show.
Track your results
Establish a way to measure the success of your trade show promotions. If you used a sales incentive, code it so that you know what the show offer actually generated. If you gave away a premium item, after the trade show, survey your customers and your exhibit team about how well it worked.
Work to answer these questions:
- Did the offer attract qualified prospects to the booth?
- Did the promotion achieve your sales and/or lead goal?
- Was it profitable?
- Did your prospect and customers find the premium and/or sales incentive useful? Or did they discard or forget it?
- Did the promotion, sales incentive and/or the premium project the right corporate image?
Selecting a great premium
There are plenty of exciting trade show giveaways that will make your promotion a success. Learn more about creating promotions that work in “Part 2 – Selecting a great premium”.