Guest Blog: How to pick the perfect giveaway for your event

Swags gotta have swags!

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If you’re anything like me, and by that I mean cheap and love freebies, you would relate marketing events and fairs to a shopping trip for practical stuff you’ll need for the coming year or so. When I’m at such events, I’m usually also on the lookout for freebies I can get concrete use out of. Swags such as pens, notepads and T-shirts are very common at events and for good reason – they’re things everyone needs on a daily basis. In other words, they’re practical. But practical as they are, you don’t always have to go for the same old pens and T-shirts. If you prefer to stand out, you could opt for more creative giveaway ideas.

The basic aim of a swag is to lure event-goers to your stand. That’s the very first step to getting people interested in what you’re offering. Hook them in with a good freebie and proceed from there. From the point of view as a freebie-consumer, you could have the most mundane and mainstream product/service and your stall could be the dullest one in the entire event hall. But if you’ve got an attractive-enough giveaway, I’m making a bee-line for you.

The last event I’d gone to was a work fair some two months ago and while I was looking forward to seeing what job offers there were out there, I was personally more excited about the freebies. They definitely fulfilled their aim of luring me to the different job stalls as I managed to score a number of interviews. But I was perhaps a little over-excited about the freebies which may have compromised my composure during the interviews!

When it comes to choosing the perfect giveaway, you could always go safe or go for something less conventional. With so many options for you to choose from, it can be rather overwhelming. Here’s one easy tip to follow – swags needs to have swag. Given that I’ve never had a green thumb nor been a fan of flowers, a great example of what your giveaway (from my point of view) shouldn’t be like is a pot of flower. The best swag should satisfy the basic criteria of being practical, light, small and easy to print on and cost-effective. A pot of flower is simply the exact opposite of these.

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What the perfect giveaway should be

Practical

A pot of flower sits in the corner of the room and serves no purpose besides taking up space. Plus, I’d have to water it every day – what a chore!

This is key. Items such as T-shirts, pens and thumb drives (they could only be 512mb and I’d still take them in a heartbeat) fair well as popular giveaways for this very reason. They’re items people can use over and over again. I’ve been using pens I got from such fairs for as long as I can remember and in fact don’t even remember the last time I actually bought one.

Light & small

Imagine lugging a pot of flowers all around the fair and on the bus/train home. Sure, it could make for a good conversation starter but I’d very much just prefer a photo of it, thanks.

Nobody, not even freebie-loving me goes to an event with a huge bag with which I can fill freebies. That’s just a tad bit too excessive. That being said, a giveaway needs to be small and light enough in order for it to be practical enough to be taken away.

Easy to print on

Hey let’s print our logo on this petal and have it wilt and fall! No.

If you haven’t already figured this out, your primary purpose of having a stall at a marketing event is to – duh – market your brand! The whole purpose of giveaways is to *drumroll* give away an item by which event-goers will remember you. And if your brand or logo isn’t indicated on the giveaway, chances are that nobody’s going to remember where they got the swag from.

Cost-effective

Forget the pots, flowers are expensive enough – ask anyone with a girlfriend.

You’re guaranteed to be the most popular stall in the event hall if you’re giving away a trip for two to Las Vegas as a promotional item. But unless you’re also harvesting bills or Bill Gates from your pots of flower, that’s obviously unfeasible. Since you’re going to be giving away these items for free, you have to consider the trade-offs. It’s important to not go overboard. Set a strict budget and stick to it.

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Another great example of a good giveaway is food. It’s practical in the sense that it satisfies hunger, is a light snack and small enough to fit in your stomach. That’s unless, of course, what you’re giving away is free steak in which case does not satisfy criteria #4. I remember being so hungry at the job fair that I was absolutely famished by the time I got to the PepsiCo booth. I needed to satiate my hunger and drown out the dreadful melodies being churned out by my stomach juices. That resulted in my shameless munching on Doritos as I was speaking to the PepsiCo representatives – probably why I didn’t get the job. But hey at least I got a free bottle of Mountain Dew after – score! Kinda.

Other items I picked up from the fair include this four-coloured-inked pen and heart-shaped notepad. They do satisfy the criteria of a good giveaway but given that I already have loads of pens and notepads lying around at home from previous fairs, I haven’t had much use for them just yet.

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Hands down my favourite giveaway from the job fair is this tote bag from Estrella Damm’s stall. Given that many supermarkets are now charging consumers for plastic bags, this is an extremely handy item. You’re saving money as well as the Earth! Plus, it can be used to carry all the other freebies from the other stalls, unless someone inadvertently picked up a pot of flower. It’s also simple and versatile enough design that I’d carry it on a regular day out as well. In fact I loved it so much I took a second one when everyone had their backs turned – or so I thought. Suffice to say, I didn’t get this job either!

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In a nutshell (just FYI nutshells don’t make for good giveaways), the main purpose of a freebie is to market your product/service. You want your presence to be felt everywhere. Think of a marketing event as a point where you disseminate information regarding your brand. You’re there to promote yourself and besides networking and chatting with event-goers, another way to do that is through these freebies.

Have you ever seen anyone give away a pot of flower as a freebie? Have you ever shamelessly stuffed your face with food giveaways? What’s the favourite giveaway of yours that you’ve taken? What are some of the most unique freebies you’ve seen around? Do share some of your freebie stories with us!

AUTHOR BIO
Lin’s an all-rounder in terms of physical shape. Her weekly schedule revolves around Printsome, football and abhors cutting her nails.

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Tips for Exhibitors on how to compile a Time Line and Check List whilst planning a Tradeshow or Exhibition

 

Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the Trade Show Marketing Plan, you now need to review the project plan.

It is essential to know the deadline dates for completing key activities. Most importantly you need to ensure that you do not miss the deadlines of the show organisers.

It is vital to highlight all your own organisation logistics on your check list including what needs to be planned, purchased and organised before the exhibition starts. This time line and check list document is an aide memoire that should keep you focused on target and on track to accomplish your goals and objectives.

What is a Trade Show Time Line?

When creating an event time line for a conference or for a trade show and exhibition, start with the event date as the end-goal and work out all the timings backwards from that date. Everything has to be accomplished before the start of the exhibition.

For a trade show you should always check on the exhibition organisers’ website for the deadline dates for ordering services. Fill these dates into your time plan allowing for pre-planning logistics so that you can accomplish the actions by the deadline. Also note any restrictions or conditions of the contract. The more time you have to prepare before an exhibition the better the project should run and the less stress it will cause you.

An example of a timeline

Exhibition name, Place date Location Stand Hall stand #
Build date:
Breakdown times and dates:
Date Action Responsible Comments Completed
Week Ending DD/MM/YY [Start with the nearest to current date] Describe the action Initials of person or persons to accomplish this action Describe what needs to be done, how the action is progressing, any other useful comments usually with a date you have actioned items Date finished
Tends to be a week-ending date rather than an actual date unless its the tradeshow deadline date First add time critical deadlines from the exhibition organisers and then fill in with other check list items according to when they need to be accomplished by
Week Ending DD/MM/YY Show build time
Show date Dates of the exhibition
Week Ending DD/MM/YY Follow up items

What is a Check List?

A check list provides a step by step guide so that you can clearly see organisation and execution of the logistics for the exhibition. This should be incorporated into the time line so that the items covered are actioned with the person responsible within the deadlines required. Items to consider for incorporation into your time line include:

  • Corporate objectives as discussed in the blog titled Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition , for example the theme of the show, strategy etc.
  • Budget creation (the budget and financial actions will be covered in the next  blog. It is important to note in your time line when the payments are due so you can schedule any deposits for the show or pay for required services.
  • Many trade shows have a conference running in parallel and this can be a good opportunity to promote you company by applying for a speaker slot. Note that the selection for the speakers is normally way in advance of the event so you need to keep an eye on the final date of speaker slot submission

The Logistics:

  • Exhibition space & stand build, or shell scheme, branding, graphics and displays will be covered in tip sheet
  • Ascertaining who is attending from the company, communicating with them the show plan, pre-show meeting and training and any rehearsals required, organising a stand rota for staff
  • Hotel and travel booking
  • Ordering services from the show organisers or your own suppliers such as:
  • Catalogue entry, power supply, Wi-Fi, cleaning, catering, furnishing, equipment, technical equipment, software, badge names, scanner for marketing leads, collateral for show, give-aways
  • Marketing of event – this is very important so that attendees know you are exhibiting and visit your stand. Do not leave this just to the show organisers’ marketing of their exhibition. You need to promote your company to your own contacts or potential clients and prospects. This could include: PR, press packs, advertising, website, on-line promotion, social media, twitter, database use, direct mail, invitations, fliers, promotion at show, sponsorship, email marketing, newsletter, collection of leads, telemarketing, competitions, internal documents and communications
  • Planning of on-stand presentations and demonstrations, organising meetings with prospects or clients beforehand, booking meeting rooms, hosting dinners and corporate hospitality
  • Shipping of exhibition stand, collateral etc. Be sure to check the destination customs and excise as to when road lorries are allowed to travel as certain countries do not allow goods vehicles to travel on a Sunday
  • Organising security and insurance, planning for health and safety considerations

Remember that the time line and check list document is not written in stone. It should be a working document and amended as required.

It is very important to check and re-check the items and progress throughout the pre-planning period, and not just before going on-site, to make sure everything is ready. Sometimes there can be misunderstanding so it is better to be sure all is in order. The main thing to remember everyone wants the show to be a success and the more pre-planning and checking you do beforehand the better prepared you are for the unexpected.

First things to consider when producing a memorable small business event

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When organising a small business event much of the time is spent in the planning of that event whether it is a workshop, seminar, small exhibition with speakers, and your events success is all down to the planning and in the details.

First decide upon your target Audience:  You need to define who your target audience is.  This will be the start for all your other decisions, such as format, content, price and location etc..  Being structured will enable you to stay focused on achieving your goals.

Have a clear business purpose for holding your event:  You have to be clear on why you are doing this event, as every decision will support your mail goal:

  • Is it a medium for passing on information, educating your market
  • New products or services release
  • Create brand awareness
  • A way to meet new customers/prospects and gather sales leads
  • PR opportunity, a way to make customers feel important build on loyalty
  • Involve third party vendors and resellers, strengthening business alliances

Create SMART goals:  always start with strategy; this will need to be measurable.  You need to know what is you are trying to achieve, outline what you are aiming for, then make sure that you follow this through to enable you to reach your goals.

Check other industry event when they are scheduled:  Check the calendar for dates, no bank holidays, or school holidays etc..   Check other events that your target audience might be interested in attending.

Know your budget:  Know how you are going to pay for the event.  The cost will depend on the number of attendees you will have.  Is the event funded by sponsorship, ticket sales, collaboration with other companies?  You will need to create a budget before looking for a venue.  Remember to add all expenses not just the meeting room such as food and beverage, audio visual etc..

Decide on type of venue for the event:  Know your event size, location, how easy is it for your attendees to get to this venue?  You may have to be flexible on this depending on availability and how the event may change in size.

Make a checklist of the details:  The checklist needs to contain everything you are planning for the event.  Are you are going to do all this your-self, or just certain parts? Event management logistics that needs to be considered include:

  • Programme content of the event
  • Putting together a Gantt chart showing time lines with action points, responsibility and critical dates
  • Marketing the event – the invitation process to include attendee invitation and registration
  • Registration management – client lists
  • Venue liaison to include:
    Room set up
    Audio Visual requirements
    Food and beverage
    Running order for breaks, luncheon, reception
    Logistics of getting materials to the conference venue
  • Speaker management including co-ordination of speakers, presentation, hand outs
  • Production of delegate documentation including delegate packs and badges

The organisation of an event is a project planning process.  Like all projects it will grow and develop and you have to be flexible but still keep your eye on the ball as with all events that are going to happen at a certain time and all has to be ready and in place for this time.  Checking and re-checking is so important to make sure that you have covered as many eventualities.  Remember your events success is in the details.

 

Tips on how your marketing plan can help you succeed in exhibiting

To be successful exhibiting at a trade show one of the most important actions after deciding to exhibit is to prepare a Trade Show Marketing Plan. You need to know what you want to accomplish and how to achieve it. A marketing plan helps you establish the strategy and decide what actions are required for you to exhibit and how to communicate this to others. It helps you to target decisions and it keeps you on track.

What is a Trade Show Marketing Plan?

A Trade Show Marketing Plan is the end result of a process. It gives you a format to follow and allow you to be consistent. The Plan should include:

  • An analysis of the market environment
  • The development of the exhibition plan
  • Writing an executive summary

 Market Analysis

Marketing analysis forms the basis for creating the goals, strategies and tactics used to develop the plan. This consists of your understanding of:

  • The market environment
  • The customers
  • The competition
  • The company

Information for a market analysis can be found on the internet, in trade journals and company reports, through direct customer research, by speaking to internal managers and sales people within your company, and by compiling a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis report.

 Market Environment

  • Look at the market as a whole and seek to understand the dynamics that can impact the company and its products
  • Examine the company’s market share and get a statistical evaluation of the market

 Understand your Customers

You need to understand why customers buy your products or services so that you can create an environment that encourages the behaviour outcome you would like from the exhibition.

This can include:

  • Demographics – the statistical characteristics of your customers
  • Psychographics – understanding the lifestyle and personalities of your customers
  • Buying patterns and preferences
  • Environmental influences

 Competitive Analysis

Consideration should be given to your own company as well as its competition. Use a SWOT analysis, speak to the sales personnel of your company and use post-show evaluations.

In the competitive analysis include all the questions you need to have answered regarding the exhibition such as:

  • Current exhibition strategy and trend
  • Size of space occupied
  • Style and theme of exhibit
  • Graphic message
  • Staffing levels
  • Lead capture and follow up
  • Pre & post show promotions

You also need to examine competitive positions outside the trade show environment.

After collecting and understanding the market analysis you then need to set the strategy and decide how you will accomplish your goals.

The Trade Show Marketing Plan should include

  • Market analysis – include the key findings from your study
  • Marketing objectives for the trade show. You can link the trade show programme to wider corporate marketing objectives. These need to be measurable and can include:
    • Who will be attending
    • What is the purpose of the exhibition
    • When are the dates of the exhibition
    • Where is the location of the exhibition
    • Why – define the objectives and purpose for attending
  • Marketing strategies – how you are going to accomplish your goals
  • Action plans – what are the tactics you will undertake to carry out your strategies
  • Resources and timings – what do you need to carry out the plan in the timescale
  • Executive summary – summarise the above elements as a distillation of your plan so that you can communicate it to senior management

Once you have written the Trade Show Marketing Plan, check that it is in line with your other marketing mix plans. Ensure you refer back to the Plan to make sure that you are fulfilling your strategy, objectives and actions. The Plan can be used at the end of the exhibition to review your return on investment.

Reference: Jim Burch, How to Write a Trade Show Marketing Plan You Can Actually Use

Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition

Pre-Plan All the Elements to Exhibiting for a Successful Outcome

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Many of the following bullet points will be covered in more detail in future Exhibition Tip blogs:

  • Set strategy, objectives and goals. You need to know why you are exhibiting and what you want to achieve that is measurable. Participation in trade show should always be reviewed against measurable objectives. This allows return on investment (ROI)to be analysed in order to understand the degree of success of attending that tradeshow
  • Confirm buy-in from other company departments. Discuss with departments their participation and the need for their support resource and staff, both in the pre- planning and on-site stages, for the exhibition to be successful
  • Clarify budget available for the exhibition. You need to know what your budget is before embarking on the stand build, marketing and all the other items that will need to be included in in your plan
  • Start the planning process in plenty of time. The longer you have, the better prepared you will be. Create a timeline document with schedules of what needs to be done when, showing deadlines both from the show organisers and your own. This is a vital document to keep everything on time for payments, tradeshow catalogue entry and planning logistics. The date of the show cannot be put back like a product release: it is happening on the date publicized and everything needs to be ready
  • Keep an updated check list to run in conjunction with the timeline
  • Decide on the promotion and marketing of the exhibition both on-line and with traditional media, using invitations, sales initiatives, website, social media, advertising, signage, PR, and sponsorship. At the start of the planning process for exhibiting the theme of the company exhibition needs to be decided. All marketing and promotional material and communications about the exhibition should be of the same look and feel so that there is consistency in the show’s marketing and the branding of products
  • Select stand location: consult floor plans, traffic patterns and audience make up
  • Consider the design of the exhibition stand. Have you booked a shell scheme or space only? Are you using a previous stand or designing a new one? This needs to be incorporated into the timeline. You may need to allow additional time for briefing design companies to quote and present concepts for a new or bespoke stand
  • Plan the logistics. You may need to consider:
    • Reserved hotel accommodation for staff
    • Selecting and briefing speakers if a speaking slot is confirmed at the show
    • Shipping of goods to show, as well as transportation of staff
    • Selecting suppliers for food and beverage, hospitality, stand furniture
    • Ordering literature and give-aways for use on the stand
    • Reviewing technology to be used on the stand
    • Ordering utility services required for the stand
    • Creation of signage and graphics for stand
    • Products to be displayed
    • The process of lead collection and follow up
    • Press Packs
    • Creating an exhibition handbook for staff attending
  • Review internal communication and staff training. Having the right staff who are properly briefed and trained for the show is vital to make sure all the pre planning is a success and they know their roles on-site

Tips on getting the best exhibition stand location

Stand Location

Securing an opportunistic tradeshow or exhibition display location is like finding a prime piece of real estate for your business. The location is one of the most important factors that will determine whether or not you are successful.

The location of your stand is linked to the amount of traffic that you can attract to your display area, which correlates to the potential number of leads and sales you can ultimately achieve.

Deciding what position to take on the trade floor is important to the flow of traffic and visitor footfall. If possible book your stand position as early as possible when there are usually more options.

Some exhibitors will book the stand space for the next year directly after the trade show has finished if their attendance had been successful, sometimes the organisers offer an early bird discount.

Points to consider when booking your next tradeshow space whether shell scheme or space only.

  • While high traffic areas are sought after by exhibitors, there are some high traffic areas that are important to stay away from such as entrances or exits. The entrances and exits of exhibition halls are often so crowded and chaotic that visitors may not notice the tradeshow display booths that are re located right next to the door.
  • The best location for a tradeshow display stand? Look for an area where there is less congestion within expected traffic patterns.
  • Select a location where your stand may be able to stand out from others, based on size and graphics, which will allow the greatest visibility and successful sales.
  • If the show is large it’s usually better to be with companies that offer similar products. For example if you’re at an IT Show then you would want to be in the same hall as those in a similar market e.g. specialized software. Often the organiser will recommend which hall is appropriate for your class of services or products.
  • Beware of positioning yourself too close to your principal competition if they have a higher visibility or larger stand than your own.
  • A stand that is at the junction of two aisles is more preferable to one that only has one open side as you can catch the traffic from two directions, or even four.

Exhibitions offer a unique sales platform where you can actually meet potential clients face to face.  Most of these visitors would have paid to attend so in effect they are actively in a buying mode.  It’s a well-known fact that exhibitions offer the greatest return on investment providing you follow some very basic rules.

 

Tips on How to Run a Successful Exhibition: Finding the right exhibition for your company to exhibit at

Before signing up to attend an exhibition which is a large undertaking both in commitment to time, people and money you need to undertake market analysis and understand your company’s market, its market strategy and its objectives.

Market Analysis of Your Company Market and Objectives

Before researching which exhibition to attend you first need to understand your own company’s specific marketing objectives and strategy. This includes:

  • Market environment, and market share trends
  • Your customers
  • Your competition using SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis
  • Your company strategy and marketing objectives

Research

It is essential that you undertake research about the exhibition before deciding to book a stand space. Unfortunately many companies fail to do this, resulting in very poor outcomes, being out of pocket and putting off exhibiting at further exhibitions in the future.

The simple way of researching whether to attend a trade show is to ask the exhibition organisers for last year’s exhibitors lists and visitor attendance records including demographics of attendees numbers, job roles etc.

Speak to previous exhibitors to find out their experiences and return on investment. It is amazing the information that can be gleaned in this way. For example comments might include, “The show was good but we were in the wrong hall, Hall 2 had most people because that was where the restaurant was”. Or “Yes there were lots of exhibition visitors but unfortunately they were not the decision makers.” The exhibition industry, like most others, has a series of professional publications that list the major events around the world.

The credentials of any show can be established by checking how long it has been going and its relevance to the products or services on offer. Also consider the exhibition’s ability to attract the market leaders to exhibit, and the decision makers to visit and the level of advertising and promotion for the event.

Exhibition Publications

Before you book trade show stands it is imperative that you undertake some research to identify the right trade show so that you get a good return on your investment. There are many ways in which you can research a show’s success before you book or design any trade show stands.

Publications like ‘Exhibition Bulletin’ will list shows by venue, industry type and time of year. Exhibition Bulletin runs regular features such as Audit Watch. Here you will be able to see which trade shows are in decline and which shows are improving their attendance levels and exhibitor numbers. By speaking to the organisers you should be able to get hold of previous year’s exhibition catalogues to see which clients are rebooking their trade show stands and which ones are not. It is always a good idea to speak to these companies to find out why they have rebooked their trade show stand, who attends the show and how successful it was for them. Obviously you need to make sure that the types of visitors are right for your organisation and products or services.

Resources & Information Available

Online Resources to Source Trade Shows

·        AllConferences.com

·        BizTradeShows.com

·        Bvents.com

·        CantonFair.org.cn

·        Conferensum.com

·        EventsEye.com

·        EventsinAmerica.com

·        Exhibitions.co.uk

·        ExpoCentral.com

·        ExpoDatabase.com

·        ExpoPromoter.com

·        ExpoFairs.com

·        GlobalSources.com

·        TheTradeshowCalendar.com

·        TheWholesaleForums.co.uk

·        Tradeshow.alibaba.com

·        TSSN.com

See more at Trade-Show-Advisor.com

ExpoPromoter.com

ExpoFairs.com

GlobalSources.com

MyTradeFairs.com

TheTradeshowCalendar.com

TheWholesaleForums.co.uk

Tradeshow.alibaba.com

TradeShowPlaza.com

TradeShowWeek.com

TSNN.com

Create Your Own Database of Exhibitions

Create your own company database of exhibitions with pertinent information, so that it is easy to review which are suitable to attend such as:

  • Year quarter
  • Start and finish date
  • Name of event
  • Theme of trade show
  • City & country
  • Venue
  • Website
  • Organiser contact
  • Target industries
  • Target audience
  • Budget cost to exhibit – space only, shell system
  • Number of attendees in previous year
  • Speaker opportunities
  • Final call for papers date
  • Is sponsorship available?

The above suggestions should assist in making your decision to which Trade Show to exhibit at easier.