Checklist for Ordering Trade Show Giveaways

branded retail bag and travel mug

We all love being on the receiving end of promotional products (a.k.a. “swag”). What’s not to like about getting something useful (coffee mugs, mini screwdrivers, or anti-bacterial gel) or something really cool like journal books or a laser pointer?  But what about when you are on the purchasing end of promotional giveaways?

Read on for detailed tips on how to make the ordering process a breeze. When you’re ready to launch your marketing campaign at a trade show using promotional giveaways, ask these 7 questions:

1) What is the goal for your marketing campaign?
It is important to establish a goal and expected outcomes (metrics) for your promotion. Often, your promotional items purchase is an investment – not an expense – so shoot for positive return (ROI). Are you looking to spread the word? How many more calls, leads, or customers do you need to get to break even? To meet your sales goal? Are you giving a customer appreciation gift that says “thank you for your business”? How many of your customers will repeat their purchase again in a coming year?

With apparel giveaways, for example screen printed t-shirts, your metric could be something as easy as percent of people seen wearing them. Adam Nash, CEO at Wealthfront, has a great series of posts on ordering company t-shirts and recommends that spending extra pays off: “Better to spend $12 for shirts you’ll see for the next two years than $5 on shirts you won’t see again.”

2) Who will receive your promotional giveaways?
Know your target market. Establish qualifying criteria for prospects or customers to receive your gift, depending on your goals. There’s no shortage of people looking to score some “free swag,” but are you giving the right promotional products to the right audience? That’s the best way to ensure getting a good return on your investment!

best promotional giveaways
photo source: PPAI Instagram

The best promotional giveaways are the ones which will deliver hundreds of impressions for your business or organization. There’s no value in giving a product which won’t be used.

Tip: Order a sample of the product and try it yourself! Even better, often samples are sent out free. Do you find yourself using it a lot? How do you like the quality of the product and quality of the imprint?

3) Does the product choice work well for your type of business?
It’s always great to see a connection between business type and promotional gift.  For example an insurance agency could consider ice scrapers, fridge magnets and calendars. If you are a law firm, your choice could be a padfolio or a pen and pencil gift set. Or you could go with trends; in that case custom water bottles or tech gadgets would be a great choice. 

4) Should you consider environmentally-friendly promo items? 
You can further enhance your promotional campaign by opting in for environmentally-friendly products. Choose recycled paper for your Post-Its® or notepads, or simply reusable items which eliminate waste, such as reusable shopping bags or stainless water bottles.  Your customers will appreciate that you share their concern for the planet.

5) How will your brand and message look on the promotional item?
Putting your organization’s logo on a product is always a great idea, but what other message are you planning to include? It will depend on your goals.

For brand awareness, consider including a call-to-action – something you want your potential customers to do – tweet a hash tag, phone number to call, visit your website, or simply stop by your booth at the trade show. For promotional pens or company shirts, your logo alone will often be sufficient.

Explore different options with the imprint dimensions, location(s), and number of imprint colors available. Know your restrictions — for example, a detailed, vertical logo wouldn’t look good on laser engraved pens. Requesting a “paper proof” is always a great idea – it is usually a PDF showing the real size of your imprint.

BIC promotional pens

6) Are your choices within your budget? Set your budget from the beginning. When searching your options for promotional giveaways, be careful to understand the pricing for the quantity you are planning to order. And factor in any set-up charges, and additional fees for another imprint color or a second imprint location.

Also, check estimated shipping/handling costs and any sales tax. Does your order quantity satisfy the minimum quantity requirement? You might find a perfect product, but if the minimum order is way more than you need it may blow your budget.  And usually each “quantity break” pricing is different — the more you order, the better deal you’ll be getting.

promotional mugs in assorted colors
Speaking of quantity, here’s a quick tip! The quantity breaks determine the “each” pricing, but you can order any exact quantity you need over the minimum quantity. For example, on this product; Hilo Bistro Mug the minimum quantity is 36 mugs. But the customer is ordering 13 purple, 21 yellow and 9 lime for a total of 43 mugs. No need to blow your budget ordering large quantities or have extras taking up room on the storage shelf!

Tip: Look for coupons!  Prior to ordering, make sure to sign up for email specials and/or follow the vendor’s Twitter or Facebook. Many companies post coupons through social channels – sometimes up to 20% off!

7) Have you allowed enough time for receiving your order?
OK—You are all set to place an order and excited about the promotion for your upcoming trade show ! But first — did you allow enough time for your order to be produced and received on-time (without resorting to expedited delivery). Production times can vary greatly depending on the item, usually websites will list production time within product details. It is always a good idea to receive your items at least a week or two ahead – this will allow you to still meet your deadline in case there are any problems.

advertising pens ready to ship in 2 daysFinally, what happens in an unfortunate event when you simply don’t like the way your order turned out?  Or—due to no fault of your own—you missed your event and no longer need the products? Reputable vendors have satisfaction guarantees and will offer a reprint or full refund. Discuss this with your sales rep or research on the website.

Still have questions?

Don’t hesitate to call us (1-800-833-6231) and knowledgeable staff at Amsterdam Printing will walk you through the process.

Hopefully these tips will help you plan and execute a successful campaign at your next trade show. Let us know if you found the tips to be useful in the comments below!

For convenience – here is quick access to the products mentioned above: