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Valuable promotions produce valuable customers

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We all use promotional products at trade shows and we all know that our supply of promotional products is depleted far sooner than our supply of product catalogs. 

More than 70% of trade show attendees who receive a promotional product remember the name of the company that gave them the product, according to a 2003 study by Georgia Southern University. And more than 76% of those recipients have a favorable attitude toward the company that gave them the product. Try getting that response from an ad in the show directory.

But did you know that you can increase your trade show ROI exponentially through strategic planning?

It is essential that you do your homework to identify the needs and interests of your target audience. Identify a promotional product that will motivate the recipient to take a particular action?in this case to visit the booth?and get it into the hands of your target audience well in advance of the show.

Studies have shown that preshow mailings that include a promotional product are far more effective than mailings without a product. A 2004 research study conducted by Georgia Southern University examined the behavior of preregistered show attendees. The attendees were divided into three groups. Group A received a postcard invitation to visit the exhibitor's booth; group B received an inexpensive promotional magnet imprinted with the exhibitor's logo and an invite; and group C received a postcard offering a T-shirt for redeeming the postcard at the exhibitor's booth.

Seventy-eight percent more people responded to the T-shirt offer than the postcard alone and 57% more people responded to the magnet than the postcard alone. Clearly, including a promotional product with a preshow mailing increases the likelihood of an attendee stopping by your booth to learn about your company.

As a general rule, promotional products of greater value generate more sales leads than products of lower value, but the promotional product doesn't need to be expensive to be effective. While you determine the cost of the product, it is the recipients who determine the value. Research shows most people keep promotional products for more than a year, and each time they use your imprinted product they actively engage with your brand.

The right promotional product is the hook that embeds the memory and maintains the experience. Don't wait until the last minute and just grab some candy. Trade show attendees aren't trick-or-treaters. They are your clients and potential clients. When you maximize your trade show investment and strategically drive trade show traffic to your booth, you will increase the number and quality of show leads you generate and elevate your brand by creating a powerful and positive brand experience.

Paul A. Kiewiet is chairman-elect of Promotional Products Association International and VP at Incentive Marketing, a Corplogoware affiliate. He can be reached at paul.kiewiet@ppa.org.

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