How many times  have you struggled to decide what the perfect giveaway should be for you exhibition stand? Trying to make your mind up between a branded notebook (useful) or the latest fitness tracker (cool). Have you endlessly searched for that unique bit of kit that no-one else on the show floor could possibly offer, only to find that buying enough for everyone would hopelessly blow your budget?

This week’s blog is inspired by the guys over at Lsi ( as their fab new catalogue dropped on our doorstep filled with a plethora of gifts, clothing and goodies.  But before you go racing to buy one of everything (believe me it’s tempting!), here are a few tips to help ensure your freebie (or tchotchke for our international readers) is working as hard as it possibly can for you!


Yes we bang on about this all the time but your whole exhibition execution needs to be cupcake-279523_1920relevant for your audience in a way that inspires them to move along the path to doing business with you.  Sure, a beautifully decorated cup-cake might be a nice sugar hit but what does it leave them with after the show to help convince them (and their business) that you’re the right people to spend money with (NB: this is a great giveaway if you’re a cupcake maker but doesn’t really work for anyone else).  Lorry shaped branded USB sticks are great if you’re a delivery company (looking at a Hermes one on my desk as I type), whilst branded mobile powerbanks maintain the theme of giving energy for suppliers in that market.

Try to think of a gift that will be functional so you add value to their day after they leave the show, but is also relevant to what you do and makes sense to your product or service. Here at ProExTra we’re working on an Exhibition Planning Calendar – maybe a wall chart or journal that you can tailor to your specific dates, deadlines and tasks to give out at shows we’re attending. And filling it with hints, tips and advice as well as our contact details means when someone gets stuck, they know who to call!




One of the crucial elements of trade shows is identifying which visitors are of most use to you and investing the majority of your time and effort in them.  Have you ever thought about having different giveaways for the different categories of people who visit you. We classify visitors in three groups : Contacts, Leads and Prospects with increasing value as you move along the spectrum.

Contacts: The majority of people you meet at your stand will be contacts (about 80%) who are unlikely to be in a position to buy from you but might be useful e.g. the media or a business in your market but who doesn’t need your product. You want to give these people a good experience but without investing too much time or money in them. A simple (and low cost) branded pen or key-ring will keep them happy. Don’t feel you have to give contacts anything, trade shows aren’t a free-for-all but it a nice gesture, albeit one that shouldn’t cost you very much.

Prospects: This will make up about 10-15% of visitors to your stand on average and are people who may already know your product / service but are essentially looking for more information or need to influence others within their organisation to buy. Prospects are worth spending a bit more money on to give something which adds value and stays with them, so you don’t fall off their radar. If you’re a business offering an out-sourced sales solution offering  a branded travel mug might be an option with a strap line such as ”Keeping More Than Just Your Coffee Warm”. If you’re a life coach offering health and mental well being services a branded  umbrella to help people keep dancing through the rain might work. These might seem a bit cliched but they are just simple examples to make the point! dancing-2081158_1920

Leads: These are the juicy 5-10% who you will (hopefully) know before the show doors even open  and are very close to doing business with you. They may consist of existing customers, businesses you’ve been talking to for some time or who are on your ideal client list. There won’t be many of these but they are worth spending some money on to ensure they know you value the relationship and they understand you’re prepared to invest in it. You can be less obvious about your product or service for this group as they (should) already know the basics about you at least – but you have got licence to be more creative.

A great example we often refer to, is an exhibitor who had 5 specific businesses they wanted an appointment with at their industry trade show… but they just couldn’t get through the gatekeepers to the decision makers. The exhibitor was spending around £150k on the show, and their product portfolio started with a cost price of £30k. They bough 5 x £500 MontBlanc pens and sent the empty cases to the buying contact of the businesses they wanted to meet with a message that read ”Give us 15 minutes of your time and we’ll give you your MontBlanc pen”. All 5 businesses made the appointment and within 6 months the exhibitor was doing business with most of them.

CAUTION: there are rules around bribes and corporate gifts so make sure you know the rules for your the industry / market / official legislation for both your home country and the one you’re exhibiting in. 


The insight is constantly telling us that in general we’re looking more for ‘experiences’ than ‘things’ and that memories mean more than possessions. To really stand out from the crowd think about how you might create a great experience for high value visitors that is relevant, engaging and meaningful. This could be an exclusive VIP event, an introduction to a celebrity or influencer in your industry or sharing the latest insight or knowledge in a creative way/presentation.

We saw a great execution of this by Foood+Drink Wales, who created a domed, inflatable micro-restaurant on their stand at Food Matters Live where they invited VIP’s for a audience-945449_1920specially designed sampling experience. As the dozen diners tucked into delicious food from the suppliers exhibiting at the show, inspiring images of the landscapes and farms of Wales were projected around the inside of the dome creating a multi-sensory immersion. In short, make it a memorable experience (in a positive way).

There are so many options for giveaways and so often exhibitors order the same old items just because they feel they ‘have’ to give something away. Adding value and helping solve problems will be far more important in moving a visitor along the path to purchase than a cheap pen or key-ring… but finding a memorable, relevant and differentiated reward can go a long way to helping them on the journey.

Don’t forget to give the team at Lsi (01274 584996) a call if you’re struggling with giveaways for your next event and why not drop us a line to tell us about the best freebie you’ve ever received at a trade show.

If you’re struggling with what would be relevant for your business why not get in touch at 

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