Trade Show Off - Make Your Giveaway Items Stand Out

Many B2B (business-to-business) companies invest plenty of time and money into various trade shows. According to Mike Thimmesch in the Trade Show News Network article 16 Powerful Stats on the Value of Trade Shows, B2B trade show exhibitions make up 39% of B2B marketing budgets and attendees spend an average of 8.3 hours viewing trade show exhibits. To put those statistics into perspective, that’s nearly half of an annual budget spent on events lasting one-third of a day. With companies spending so much on trade shows, how can they make sure they’re maximizing their opportunity to engage with their audience?

The answer: Make your trade show giveaway items stand out, not fit in.


Before you scold me for my view on pens, hear me out. First, pens work just fine as a giveaway. They are definitely popular and can be very useful for trade show attendees. Most companies have used pens as giveaways for a few reasons: they’re affordable, practical and compact. We use pens as giveaways all the time, so don’t think I’m saying eliminate pens from your arsenal of handouts.

With that being said, however, just about every company gives pens away. Some companies rely solely on pens to give out at trade shows. Unless your pen can do something that most pens don’t, like double as a flute or transform into a boomerang, chances are it will blend in with the slew of other pens that attendees will have collected from other trade show booths. While pens are useful, they generally won’t set you apart from everyone else, even if they have a sharp design or a unique ink color. It’s also hard to fit anything other than your logo on a pen, so your chances of being unique are limited.

So what will make you stand out at a trade show?

Unique Swag

One of the best ways to attract visitors to your trade show booth is to have uniquely designed giveaways, or ‘swag’ as we like to call it. Putting your own personalized touch on giveaway items not only separates you from other booths, but it shows your audience that you took the time to design something just for them.

According to designer Tremayne Cryer in Margot Carmichael Lester’s article Trade Show Booth 101: How to Get Noticed on a Crowded Expo Floor, “Engage a professional designer to create a suite of materials that reinforces your brand. From banners and signs, to packaging, to handouts and follow-up correspondence, these components instill your brand to an audience, both contextually and visually.”

If you can incorporate your own unique designs, or professional designs from a graphic designer, into giveaway items, attendees might directly correlate that extra time and care you put into the giveaways with your brand and products. Giveaways are a great way to reinforce your brand image and to establish a sense of trustworthiness to potential customers.
Now that you understand the need of utilizing unique designs, what specific items should you put them on?

Diversify Your Giveaways

There is no handbook to tell you exactly what items you should and shouldn’t be giving away, besides the “Pens Alone are Too Basic” pamphlet written by me of course. All joking aside, I would suggest selecting items that are unique and relevant to your brand. Items don’t have to be direct representations of your company, but they should at least be appealing to your target audience(s).

At Indatus, we believe in letting our designs speak for our brand. By creating uniquely designed artwork to incorporate into giveaway items that appeal to our potential customers, our goal is to show those potential customers that we genuinely care and don’t mind to put out that extra effort to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. Some of the items we’ve used and had success with in the past have been coasters, stickers and buttons. If done plainly with no original design, these items might be thought of as boring. If you, however, add your own style to these items with unique artwork, it makes the giveaways more enticing for attendees and can help your company be more noticeable.

Don’t be Afraid to Test Out New Ideas

If you have some different ideas for artwork and various giveaway items, don’t be afraid of a little trial and error. I suggest testing out a smaller sample of items at a trade show and seeing how popular they are with your audience. If everyone raves about them, then your idea was probably a hit. If people tend to steer clear of that item, maybe you should go back to the drawing board. The worst that can happen is that you learn what not to use for future trade shows. Eventually, you’ll find items that people love in which you can either reuse frequently or create new artwork for if desired. Just make sure that you offer something else besides pens because chances are that attendees will already have enough ink to last them the duration of the year by the time they reach your booth.