Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Best and Worst Event giveaways

We've been to parties and expos and have brought home our fair share of goodies (half of which are useless).

When searching for corporate souvenirs for your potential clients or guests to bring home, it's usually the usual stuff that gets pushed to you- the thermos, mug, pens, notebooks, badges, umbrella- all stamped with the company logo.

The items mentioned above ARE useful but you can't help but sigh "not another pen..." when you get it. If you ARE considering these items as giveaways, just remember to put a little effort into the design. Adding a little smart humour always helps boost its desirabiltiy.

We found a great blog on tradeshow giveaways on http://deirdrereid.com to help you plan for your next tradeshow giveaway. Here's the summary of the blogpost plus some of our own comments:

A lot of us agree on what we like to take home from a trade show. Shelly Alcorn raised an important consideration — “What about sustainability? Can we give out cool things without just creating more junk?” Jeff Hurt recommended “contacting PPAI, the association for promotional products professionals, for green sustainable and unusual ideas.” Some of the “greener” ideas mentioned were:

Seed packets, unless you have an international meeting. We like handmade paper seed packets (or coasters) that are buried and bloom into flowers. Joe Flowers once saw seeds that grow into “a plant with a one-word slogan on them. Very cool and geeky!”

Bamboo cutting boards with the exhibitor’s logo etched in, very cool.

Reusable shopping bags – by far one of the group’s favorites, they give the vendor a branding opportunity and fit the green requirement of many.

It’s understood that this is the vendor’s opportunity to brand themselves, but we want good design. This is a chance to associate your brand with utility and style. We don’t want an ugly logoed coffee mug, but we will take a nicely designed one, perhaps with a discreet logo on the bottom.

Dan Scheeler likes “how #tech10 posted booth giveaways in advance – admit that will influence which vendors I visit.” Most of us don’t read the exhibitor postcards and direct mail we receive before a trade show – it usually goes straight to the trash unless it has stand-out design.

Here’s what else we like in the food/beverage department:

Nalgene-type water bottles
Cork screws or bottle openers (like the kind you can keep on a keychain)
Neoprene lunch bags
Wine cooler bags
Insulated travel coffee mugs
Nice coffee mugs
Drinks, or bottles with custom labels. Good for speakers too.
Mints, power bars, bottled water and good candy help us get through the long days.
If giveaways can double as a gift for kids, it makes it home, like rubber duckies, stuffed animals, even caricatures. There is the risk that these gifts will be lost in the chaos of kids’ rooms, but parents like the thoughtfulness of handy souvenirs.

Personal items that we like:

Lip balm
Hand sanitizer in little bottles (below 100ml) so that it can be brought on board a plane
Eyeglass cleaning cloths — and for a boomer audience, how about magnifier reading glasses for those show floor maps with really tiny print
Attractive or cool lanyards to reuse at other shows/conferences
Magnetic picture frames
Digital photos with friends, adding a frame is even better
Retractable headphone/earbuds
Golf tees and ball
Keychain flashlights
Brightly colored luggage tags — however, luggage handle wraps got a thumbs-down.
Small travel mouse with retractable cord
iPod wraps
Nice messenger or gym bags without any tacky branding
Drawstring backpacks
Pens get mixed reviews. Pens with a thumb drive are okay. Bobblehead pens are big movers at his booth.

Shelly summed up the pen issue, “Nobody wants a pen with your company name on it – I mean NOBODY.” Some people can never have enough pens but if you’re doing pens, try to make them cool.

Thumbdrives are popular with some, but others say they already have too many.

Other popular office items are:

Lanyards with a business card holder attached.
Headshots (useful for social media)
USB hubs
Tape measure or ruler
“The dreaded stress balls” – some like them, many don’t. I think they’re wasteful and will still be around in 2199 when we’re all in the matrix.

T-shirts get mixed reviews. Ray van Hilst said, “Lame t-shirts are bad. Funny or cool ones generate WOM.” That’s word of mouth, as in marketing, a major consideration for any giveaway decisions. Other advice: have a mix of sizes so they actually fit attendees and don’t get relegated to the rag pile; keep logos to a minimum, we don’t want to be your walking advertisements; if you make it funny, we might wear it.

Best Events designs t-shirts for only RM150 per design, we can print them for you as well. View post here.

Bathrobes and toiletries are great too.

Ray reminded us that sometimes “an experience counts as a giveaway too. Chair massages get people to stop and relax,” or hand “massages.”

Personalized art pieces are wildly popular especially when attendees can watch them being made.

Peter Romeo told me about a conference that gave attendees Express Mail postage to ship their conference binders home. It was a sponsored perk.

Experiences, rather than giveaways, might be a more sustainable option too. Mercy Malaysia did a ball toss game at a tradeshow recently. Attendees pay RM1 to throw a ball into a hole which has a prize. If it misses, the money just goes to their fund and the attendee still goes off happy for being able to contribute.

What about having a raffle for a big prize rather than giving away? Most of us like that option. We’ve seen raffles for an iPod, Wii and GPS, and would like to see Kindles and iPads as prizes.

At one booth if you guessed the correct number of M&Ms in a jar, you could win a Snoopy lunchbox. In another you won prizes playing Wheel of Fortune.

About the Author


Author & Editor

Based in Malaysia, Best Events specializes in Conferences, Seminars, Murder Mystery Dinners, Gala Dinners and Team Building events.


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  2. We're glad you enjoy the read! :)

  3. Wonderful post! about the Best and Worst Event giveaways that really attracts the visitors towards their good looking picture. I like very much your post. Thanks for sharing this informative info with us.

  4. Thanks, Harry! We love it when we can share good info :)



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