Giveaways are an important way of getting some buzz

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Giveaways are an important way of getting some buzz and inbound traffic at a trade show. Coffee mugs and stress balls are tried and true, but you can get even more creative with more unique items (yo-yos, coconuts, cigar cutters) to stand out during 190
the show. A play on the name of your company or your core value proposition gets people talking about your booth. For example, DuckDuckGo could give out duck key chains 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 your booth. The founders of RJMetrics, a business analytics subscription service, told us about how they’ve had success starting conversations by walking up to people at trade shows: One thing was clear: it pays to have an outbound strategy. Only 28 percent of our conversations were walk-ups. This means that employing an outbound strategy allowed us to extract between three and four times as much value from the show as we would have otherwise. A proactive and inexpensive method that requires no creativity is giving away as many bags with your company’s name on it as possible. Most attendees travel with armloads of pamphlets, catalogs, flyers, and giveaways. Stopping each to offer them a bag to put it in gets them talking to you but, more important, gets your name displayed all over the conference area. Many companies also do something particularly engaging within their booths to get people to stay there long enough to experience their full pitch. SureStop has a funny video demo comparing its brakes with the regular brakes found on bikes. The video shows an individual using regular bike brakes speeding down a mountain and braking and promptly getting thrown over the handlebars. Then, as a comparison, the same person in the same scenario is shown using a bike with SureStop brakes and comes to a quick, safe stop. It’s a simple and compelling way to pique people’s interest in the product. When you do engage a person, each of the materials you give out should have a specific call to action (CTA). For example, if someone picked up a business card at your 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. Like dinners, these are a great way to loosen up and chat with others at the event. You could cosponsor these with other startups to keep costs reasonable. Trade shows give you more direct interaction with customers, partners, and press in a short period of time than most other traction channels. Those connections can be especially valuable if your key customers and partners are geographically diverse, and traveling to meet each of them separately would be prohibitively expensive. This channel has the potential to move the needle in a matter of days.

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