Guide to Most Popular Promotional Items at Conferences

There are many events, gatherings, and occasions where promo items are given out. These are often called giveaways or handouts at conventions or association meetings, at familial gatherings such as weddings or anniversary's gifting would be called favors. In a business setting such items would be known as gifting. No matter the event or occasion for any given out item it should be purposeful, appreciated, quality and long lasting. In business, there needs to be a branding component that has a lasting value.
Invest in Give-a-way items.

First, planners should  recognize that handouts, business gifting, promos, in all forms, must be part of a strategy not just a marketing plan. No different than most investiments there must be a return-on-investment. Some returns-on-investment are recognized in hard dollars, others  come from intellectual property derived from research and  sometimes the return-on-investment are intangible. How about awards and gifts for achievements.

Gifting is a misnomer to some extent. For example, the word “favor” is best used to describe items given to attendees of momentous events- weddings, anniversary gatherings, award ceremonies, new product launches, or a realtor trying to increase awareness, or even community festivals. 

A quick rule of thumb and what we should start thinking about:

  • What will be remembered relative to a message or brand identity printed/lasered on a gift?
  • What are the best options for something that will be: useful, lasting, create a multiplier effect relative to impressions, and screams quality-I want that item.
  • Remember Gucci-Quality and pride will be remembered long after the price is forgotten.
  • You want items to give out that people will ask, “I saw one of your sports water bottles, can I have one?”

Anecdotal comment-While attending  a Natural Products show a few years ago, I saw a vendor literally throwing Notepads to passerby’s. A few feet away was a trash can full of those pads that no one wanted. The Return-on-investment was not good for this company.  The THOUGHT did not matter.

Here are some targeted thoughts from:

Conferences are a company’s time to shine. It’s your opportunity to promote your brand and make a lasting impression.

Characteristics of the Most Effective Promotional Products

Before you lay out thousands of dollars designing and printing promotional products, let’s take a look at what these products should achieve.

marketing with tote bags

Create an Emotional Connection

Appealing to your customer’s emotions is the first step in gaining their trust and creating loyalty. People who trust a company are more likely to become return customers. They’re also more likely to refer your company to friends and family.

When it comes to offering promotional products at a convention, it’s all in the delivery. Engage visitors in conversation as you promote your company.

It’s this conversation that they’ll remember when they look at the promotional product or see your logo elsewhere. You want the sight of your brand to elicit feelings of trust and happiness.

Promotional products help people look back fondly on their interaction with your company.

Be Practical and Useful

Promotional products like bags, travel mugs, and pens are practical. Useful promotional products are some of the most effective.

Customers appreciate an item they can actually use and not one they’ll stuff in their junk drawer never to be seen again. Another benefit for you is the more practical the item, the more often the person will use it.

More than 90% of people admit to having at least one promotional product in their kitchen at all times!

That means your brand will become a household name. Customers are reminded of your product or service every time they use their bag, pen, or mug. This keeps your company at the forefront of their minds, influencing future purchase decisions.

branding with promotional items

Increase Brand Awareness

The last thing you want is for people to forget your name, who you are, and what your company has to offer. Brand awareness is all about people recognizing and connecting with your brand.

When people see the Apple logo they instantly think of tech products. The Target bullseye is synonymous with good deals. What do you want your brand to say about you?

Once you figure it out, you can create a logo to support your goals. Now it’s time to plaster it on every canvas bag out there and hand them out at the next conference you attend.

While it takes some legwork on your part to market yourself, promotional bags and other products are a great way to boost brand awareness long after the conference ends.

In fact, each time someone hits the streets carrying your bag, it’s reaching another 6,000 people! That’s an impressive ROI. Think of your promotional bag as a walking, talking billboard.

If even 5% of those 6,000 people ask the bag holder about your brand, you’ve just engaged another 300 people without breaking a sweat.

Encourage Visitors to Interact

When you set up your table at a conference or tradeshow, your goal is to interact with and attract potential customers. Promotional products are the perfect way to draw people in.

Once you get them to your table, you’re on! This is your opportunity to sell yourself and your product. The least a person can do is listen to what you have to say when your have given them something of value.

brand awareness with promotional bags

Why Promotional Products Work

You may be on the fence about spending money on promotional products. Do you think having a table set up with flashy decorations is enough? Think again.

Here’s why promotional products work and why they’re a wise investment.

People Love Free Stuff

Let’s face it – people love free stuff. They REALLY love free stuff if it is quality, something they need and will use, communicates they receuved something that says they are valued and others want that too. Even if the appeal of a free promotional coaster or mug is the only thing that draws visitors to your event, at least they’re coming over!

And once they’re there, it opens the door to conversation. Promotional products act as your direct “in” to engaging customers.

Did you know that 60% of people who receive promotional items hang onto them for two years or more? And what’s even better is that once they no longer need them, they pass them onto friends and family.

You’ve just reached multiple people through a single promotional item. Talk about getting the most out of your marketing efforts!

They Tap Into the Senses

A Harvard Professor recently reported that 95% of people’s purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. That means once you’ve made an emotional connection or tapped into the customer senses, chances are your brand is subconsciously embedded in their minds.

Even if a person uses your promotional bag 20 times without ever making a purchase, the next time they need the type of product or service you offer, they’ll think of your brand first. After all, they’ve been staring at it day in and day out for weeks or months, even!

Purchasing decisions are also made primarily based on emotion. If you successfully connect emotionally with customers, they’re more likely to choose your company time and again. Promotional products create a sense of appreciation and help customers recall their interaction with you.

If it was a positive one, they’re likely to make a purchase.

Encourages Word of Mouth and Referrals

Word of mouth referrals are one of the most effective ways to gain new customers. After all, if a friend or family member is recommending your product or service, it must be good.

People trust their friends and loved ones – and if they trust your company, you’re a shoo-in!

Nine out of 10 people say they remember brands they see on promotional products.

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