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Giveaways are an important way of getting some buzz and inbound traffic at atrade show. Coffee mugs and stress balls are tried and true, but you can get even morecreative with more unique items (yo-yos, coconuts, cigar cutters) to stand out during190
the show. A play on the name of your company or your core value proposition getspeople talking about your booth. For example, DuckDuckGo could give out duck keychains or sunglasses to showcase that they don’t track your searches.You can also be proactive on the trade show floor to bring people back to yourbooth. The founders of RJMetrics, a business analytics subscription service, told usabout how they’ve had success starting conversations by walking up to people at tradeshows:One thing was clear: it pays to have an outbound strategy. Only 28percent of our conversations were walk-ups. This means thatemploying an outbound strategy allowed us to extract between threeand four times as much value from the show as we would haveotherwise.A proactive and inexpensive method that requires no creativity is giving away asmany bags with your company’s name on it as possible. Most attendees travel witharmloads of pamphlets, catalogs, flyers, and giveaways. Stopping each to offer them abag to put it in gets them talking to you but, more important, gets your name displayedall over the conference area.Many companies also do something particularly engaging within their booths toget people to stay there long enough to experience their full pitch. SureStop has afunny video demo comparing its brakes with the regular brakes found on bikes. Thevideo shows an individual using regular bike brakes speeding down a mountain andbraking and promptly getting thrown over the handlebars. Then, as a comparison, thesame person in the same scenario is shown using a bike with SureStop brakes andcomes to a quick, safe stop. It’s a simple and compelling way to pique people’sinterest in the product.When you do engage a person, each of the materials you give out should have aspecific call to action (CTA). For example, if someone picked up a business card atyour booth, it should have an enticing offer (e.g., download a free industry guide),along with a unique link to that download. Make sure this page is mobile optimized,as most of your visitors will be accessing the page from a mobile device.One step beyond hosting dinners is throwing a party near the show center. Likedinners, these are a great way to loosen up and chat with others at the event. Youcould cosponsor these with other startups to keep costs reasonable.Trade shows give you more direct interaction with customers, partners, and pressin a short period of time than most other traction channels. Those connections can beespecially valuable if your key customers and partners are geographically diverse, andtraveling to meet each of them separately would be prohibitively expensive. Thischannel has the potential to move the needle in a matter of days.