Keepsakes for buyers and media are a good idea but bigger is not always better. Other than a postcard or marketing kit flyer”, if you have cool buttons or pins that are designed and include your URL on them these tend to create a viral marketing buzz. Here are other good give-aways that work well but are not all that expensive:
Cool buttons or pins with interesting designs, but make sure you include your URL on them!
Stickers if the trade show allows them –but make sure you have your URL on them! Some shows won’t allow stickers so make sure you know the show policy before making them.
Faux tattoos of your brand name or logo
Mints, gum, small lollipops –they at least get people to stop at your booth for a few seconds in which time you can start up a conversation
Key chains –these can get expensive, but small keepsakes like this that are lightweight with your logo, designs, and URL can go a long way
Bags –a word of warning about logo-ed bags at your booth are that they can be costly to create and everyone gives out bags. Yes, they are walking billboards, but yours may just be another one lost in the shuffle. So if you are giving out bags, and have the funds to do this, you may want to use the money towards creating a marketing give-away that’s cooler, or hire an additional person to work your booth or walk the show and hand out flyers to drive hype and traffic to your booth rather than spending the money one creating yet another logo-ed bag. And quite honestly, the only bags that most people end up keeping are the high-end denim bags. This is usually out of budget range for most emerging brands.
A big mistake that many emerging brands make is not getting the word out to key buyers and potential specialty boutiques that they are even headed to a trade show. Do your work ahead of time! One of the best ways to figure out what types of stores you’d like to introduce your brand to is by going to the websites of similar brands or brands you admire. Check out if they have a store location listing of where they’re distributed, including online stores.
Check out their MySpace friends, and start creating your own list.
From this list, call, email if you can, and send information such as a postcard about your brand about 2-3 weeks before the show you’ll be representing in. Then follow-up 1 week ahead with a phone call and let them know your booth location and number so that maybe they can stop by. Try to set up times for appointments. Even though many buyers and media won’t set up a specific time, some may or they may try and come by within a certain timeframe. And the fact that you are reaching out and trying to establish a business relationship means you have a level professionalism –even if you’ve never shown your brand before. Do the same with potential media –even if they’re not going to the show they may do a story on you if they think it’s interesting enough.
This also goes back to having marketing materials about your brand. They don’t have to be big and heavy, high-gloss paper (which is prevalent at European trade shows, but not necessarily considered cool at American trade shows because it’s wasteful), but it could be as basic as a postcard or folded marketing piece or even basic, mini ‘zine. This piece can be what you send you ahead of time, then carry through the show and pass out so your theme is consistent which makes it more memorable for buyers and media after the show.
This also applies to sales reps or agents that may be representing your brand:
make sure their business cards say the name of your brand on it somewhere or else buyers and media may not be able to follow-up because they don’t know what brand the sales rep’s card or agency card represents. Those cards get tossed because people can’t remember the brand represented given that after trade shows, they may have collected an enormous amount of business cards.
Gather all of the business cards you have collected from the show and create a database so you can send out follow-up emails to thank people for stopping by.
If there are particular stores that didn’t stop by, but may have been to the show where you were representing, sending them a follow-up with a message about hoping to meet in the future, can be effective also. It shows that you care about that store and you are interested in getting to know them –even if they didn’t have the time to stop by your booth at the trade show.
Follow-up after a trade show is over is vital for staying fresh in the minds of buyers and media. Keep in mind that while you may have only been in one small area of the show, or at your booth, many buyers and media have walked for hours for several days and seen a large variety of brands and other trade shows even. So providing them with a quick take-away marketing piece, and business card, at least gives them the potential to look up your brand after the show. A quick note, email, or phone call on your part can also go a long way towards creating the relationship you’re looking for in terms of success for your business.
Once you’ve started establishing your contact database from the trade show, you can use this the next time for getting the word out about your upcoming collection and trade show location and set up appointments ahead of time, and start the cycle all over again.