Promotional giveaways are a proven way to attract attention to your exhibit booth and your product or service. But while the right giveaway can yield great results, a lame one can send the wrong message, waste your money, and fail to capture the attention you deserve. Here’s a list of the best and the worst items a company can choose as promotional giveaways.
Paper pad. Used on a daily basis, relatively inexpensive, and highly visible, the simple pad of paper makes your company’s name a daily part of the office environment. These pads are great at keeping your firm on the desk of the decision-maker. Just make sure that your company name is not so big as to make the paper unusable.
Custom sticky note pad. Made famous by the 3M company, but who knows that? Now if the name had been on every yellow square, you know it would be on the lips of every executive in a European-cut jacket. Placing your company’s name or logo on a custom-made pad of notepaper with a sticky backing is a good way of getting your name Out there. Everybody uses them, and you can never have enough.
Stress ball. No, not toys. Stress balls. No, not shaped like furniture or figures or stars or globes. Like spheres. Like round balls. Executives love these squishy giveaways, and research suggests that those that stay around the office are the plain, solid-colored ones with understated logos. Goofy animal characters and oh-so-cutesy hearts with bulbous eyes end up at home in Junior’s toy box next to the tiny stuffed lion from last year’s show.
Computer-top calendar. One of the best giveaway items is the small, flip-page calendar that either has Velcro or a double-sided sticky clip that attaches directly to the top of a computer screen. Handy, unobtrusive, functional, and low-cost, the calendar will be used yearlong, reminding clients of your existence on a daily basis.
Mouse pad. The best of the best, the computer mouse pad with custom logo is the item most likely to be used by corporate decision-makers in the office on a daily basis. Most of their planning takes place on or near the computer, and this item is a sure winner for keeping your company name close at hand with the powers that hire and rehire.
And Now, the Worst
Cup cozy. This condensation-foiling wraparound is cute and inexpensive, but one of the worst items to bank your firm’s name and reputation on. Primarily, these foam coolers are used to keep beers or other alcoholic beverages cold, and as such are not of much use in a corporate workplace. The majority of them end up in homes or dorm rooms, away from the decision-makers you want to reach.
Stuffed animal. Here’s an item that is at once expensive and forgettable. These cuddly, bug-eyed dust collectors are almost always taken home–not to the office–where they are immediately given to Junior. The same goes for any toy-esque item. Yourgiveaway should be of use to the recipient, and that recipient should always be a decision-maker.
Pocket-sized letter opener. Small and compact, utilitarian in function, they seem like a great choice. But consider this: Does your decision-maker open her own mall, or will this item be used primarily by her assistant–not on your decision-maker’s desk when she’s doing the hiring for her next project?
Coffee mug. Again, at first glance, these appear to fit the criteria: attractive, utilitarian, and desktop friendly. However, mugs with another company’s logo are not always PC in some corporate arenas. Not only that, but they tend to run on the more expensive side of the ledger, and have been so “done to death” many of them now fill the kitchen cupboards of homes across America awaiting the next yard sale.
Magnet. The worst of the worst. These end up attaching pizza coupons to refrigerator doors. Magnets make great giveawayitems when you want to say, “I just don’t care anymore.”
Here are a few more decent giveaway items, but remember that the success of these items will depend a great deal on the type of client you are targeting. Improper marketing of these items could have you going from show to show toting luggage loaded with lackluster, logo-laden loot.
Rounding out this collection of suggestions are the small, folding travel clock (your name and logo are the first thing that greet clients’ bleary eyes each morning of every business trip), the Swiss Army knife (not a near-miss knockoff, but the real thing! Yes, the client can tell the difference), and even key chains. But the key chains must be good looking; preferably with a clear, white-light option, not some rinky-dink copy of your logo pasted to an alien-red light bulb that is of no use unless you’ve lost your car in a photo darkroom.
One last bit of advice: Man the station. Don’t just have a tub of pens sitting on a table near the aisle way. People won’t even look your way, let alone stop. They’ll scoop up your free stuff and hit the next booth. Instead, have someone holding the item and handing it out. This will at the very least get someone to make eye contact with you. Remember, “thank you” can segue into an actual conversation.