There’s a lot we miss about traditional trade shows, but collecting awesome giveaways and perusing endless samples is at the top of the list.

As we look toward the future, we’ll see two kinds of trade shows: 100% virtual events, and in-person trade shows with LOTS of new safety protocols. With this “new normal” now in place, where do trade show giveaways fit into the equation?

Here’s the scoop on digital trade show giveaways and how to make them work for your next event.


Digital giveaways vs. tangible giveaways 

Digital giveaways, while maybe not as fun and flashy as your usual trade show swag, are typically cost-effective and convenient. Digital assets are easy to store, can often quickly be updated as needed, and don't cost anything (other than company time) to distribute.

Physical giveaways need to be shipped to the event and stored when not in use. These types of giveaways cannot be updated without reordering the item, and need to be distributed by paid personnel during the event. The cost for having to reproduce items (or update them) needs to be continually factored into your budget.


Put your swag budget toward pre-show promotions 

One drawback to digital giveaways is that they don’t leave the same type of lasting impression that more traditional giveaways do. Tangible giveaways can be a physical reminder of what it was like visiting your booth space. Maybe the recipient recalls a conversation they had with you when you provided them with their giveaway? Maybe the recipient regularly uses your giveaway and your brand is often top of mind because of that? Either way, a physical giveaway can be beneficial in ways that digital giveaways often cannot be.

However, digital giveaways can typically provide a more focused value for the recipient. That is, while traditional giveaways are a good branding tool, there’s really no limit to how much value a digital giveaway - especially an asset that can be more easily updated - can bring to the table. Consequently, devoting the budget you would have spent on branded giveaways and prizes for trade show games towards pre-show promotions might not only make a more lasting impression, but might be a more effective tool to help convert visitors into customers:

  • “Meet” your audience before the event: Most trade show organizers utilize attendee email addresses to send sponsored communications leading up to the event. Drop some cash to grab a piece of the buzz for your brand.

  • Double down on your social media presence: Find out if anyone from your audience is planning on attending your event. Try a bold paid social ad campaign. Create a dialogue about the event with your followers.

  • Create a dedicated trade show landing page: Develop a page on your website where attendees can reach out to your company prior to the event. Consider using your landing page to offer a digital giveaway before the event begins—something exclusive to those who plan on attending.


Make samples and swag a premium prize

One way to provide physical trade show giveaways and samples for a digital event is to mail them to the recipients following the event. It sounds costly...and it is. To keep your ROI steady, try setting high standards for your sweet swag.

For example, you could offer to send samples or branded giveaways if your attendee meets all of the following criteria: they sign up via the landing page, they swing by your virtual booth to “meet” you, and they set up a tentative meeting (either via phone or video call) following the event.


“Hand out” digital samples during in-person events

Even if you plan on participating in an in-person event this year, you may want to rethink the giveaways.

Handing swag to visitors or placing them out where several people may touch the same items could be a safety hazard. In addition, guests won’t want to carry swag bags that need to be set down on various surfaces throughout the day.

Digital giveaways could save the day by giving you a touch-free way to deliver freebies to your prospects. Have booth staff obtain contact information directly from visitors (rather than asking visitors to touch devices or fill out forms themselves). Then you’ll be able to send something useful AND follow up at a later time.


Focus on follow-up

As with pre-show promotions, prospect follow-up after the event is another place to invest resources you’d normally spend on giveaways.

Send a follow-up email to each visitor you spoke with. Attendees likely heard a lot of sales pitches during the event, so make your correspondence as personalized as possible in order to grab their attention.

Continue to send digital assets that solve challenges for your prospects. Even those who don’t immediately respond with interest can be placed back at the beginning of your marketing funnel and treated as a brand new lead.

Most importantly, STAY FLEXIBLE. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented creativity, and it’s important that you’re up to the challenge!

If you need unique branded giveaways, a COVID-conscious booth design with safety additions, or a gorgeous virtual exhibit rendering, please reach out to your friends at Exhibit Options. We have tons of ways to keep the spotlight on your brand during your next event whether it’s in-person or completely virtual.

Tags: Resources