Meeting and trade show
giveaways are an essential part of an event’s branding
strategy. When selecting these items, it’s important to select swag
that ties into the overall theme, signage, etc., of the event and
is of use to recipients, so that it serves as a marketing promotion
There’s a distinct difference between
MPO gifts and the typical tchotchkes handed out at trade shows. MPO
giveaways often should have a more significant and integrated
marketing plan behind them (making them typically more expensive
than traditional booth giveaways). How can you make sure your
giveaways have meaning and won’t be tossed into a dark closet or
buried in the recipient’s office? Following is some advice.
Steer clear of 1990s-era giveaways,
* Nylon briefcase bags and duffle bags.
Why? Your attendees probably cannot find room in their closets to
store them. Furthermore, you don’t want attendees to see the same
items priced at three for $10 at the neighborhood thrift shop.
* Pens and note pads.
* Excessive printed collateral from
conference sponsors. They’re expensive and an environmental
Among items attendees will
* Messenger bags made of repurposed
materials such as boat sails or old leather jackets.
* Edible messaging, such as photo
cookies with brand logos and messages.
* Custom thumb drives with 2 gigabytes
of RAM (with software and sponsor collateral preloaded). Thumb
drives can be made in virtually any shape if you have at least two
* Branded and sponsored relaxation
stations, oxygen bars and mini spa treatment booths. These are not
new to conventions or events, but they remain exceedingly popular.
More importantly, these experiences or services can be carefully
engineered to support the messaging or branding of the sponsor. It
might be as obvious as a manicure that includes a small logo as
nail art or as subtle as oxygen bar scents that are cleverly named
after corporate products. What you could lose in a durable item
like a flashlight is compensated for in the longer-term memory of
ingenuity and a compelling experience.
Never give out stuff for the sake of
giving something. Everything should have a distinct purpose, and
every item should be related to and support or improve the
For example, if the primary theme of an
event is a benchmark anniversary of a merged company, items
reflecting traditional wedding anniversary gifts (paper, tin,
clocks, etc.) could be clever.
A product launch for software designed
to save time and streamline processes can feature like-minded gifts
(a good source of time-saving items is thinkgeek.com).
Push your marketing promotional vendors
to seek out and search nontraditional sources. The best marketing
either already do this or should be amenable to doing so. If you
need to source items yourself, scour the Internet. Two sites to
explore: www.thecoolhunter.net and www.alessi.com.
Remember, this is not about you and
your taste. Yes, you likely have been hired in part for your
impeccable judgment and skills, but that must include a strategic,
objective mind that will evaluate the needs of your program and put
them first. In short, your limited comfort zone will limit the
potential impact of your marketing opportunities.
And stay on your toes: Never use the
same types of items for more than two years in a row.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP,
CMM,is senior event operations manager with
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing in San Carlos,