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7 Kinds Of Trade Show Giveaways

tradeshow giveaway promotionsGiveaways are an extremely popular way to get more people into your trade show displays.  But not all giveaways are created equal.

To help you whittle through the nearly infinite choices of giveaways, I’ve grouped them into 7 types, with the strengths and weaknesses of each type listed below.  Keep this chart handy the next time your team gathers to brainstorm ideas for your upcoming trade show.

Giveaway Type



Cheap stuff Doesn’t cost much so you can give them to a lot of people Will not reflect well on your brand if they appear too low in quality, let alone break quickly
Nice stuff Will get you noticed favorably by your clients and prospects Usually can’t afford to give to everyone at a show
Trendy stuff Can get more people’s attention May not get the right people’s attention
Educational stuff Can use to attract only the people who are qualified prospects Takes effort to research and publish, and may not attract all your best prospects
Your stuff Can use to attract only the people who are qualified prospects Will not motivate people who only care about themselves personally; plus may get fewer leads (bad if lead quantity, not lead quality, is your sole metric)
Wearable stuff High perceived value and can put your logo on it If not good looking no one will want it, and it may end up in a drawer; plus “I’ve got enough t-shirts.”
Edible stuff Will attract grateful attendees Prospects are left with nothing that has your name on it, and you may pay double – cost to buy, plus cost to pay show hall a corking fee to giveaway food and drink

I hope that gives you some good ideas about which direction you take next when strategizing for your future events.

And if you get bored saying “giveaway” over and over again, here are 10 more words you can use to describe them:

10 Other Names For Giveaways:

  1. Promos
  2. Promotions
  3. Tchotckes
  4. Premiums
  5. Incentives
  6. Corporate gifts
  7. Swag (acronym for “Samples, Wearables, And Gifts”)
  8. Freebies
  9. Advertising specialties
  10. Bribes

No matter what they are called, a well-chosen giveaway can help you drive more traffic to your trade show booth, boost your brand awareness, and help you deepen relationships with clients and prospects.

What's Working In ExhibitingDiscover the best tactics exhibitors are using today to boost their results and stretch their budgets in the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper.  Click here to get your free 32-page copy. 

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

18 responses to “7 Kinds Of Trade Show Giveaways

  1. Thanks – I’ve never heard of that Swag acronym. I thought it meant “Stuff We All Get,” like at a sales meeting. :)

  2. We bought a business card scanner for $150 that saves paying $150 per show for the convention’s attendee card scanner. Then we use a portable laminator to make a luggage tag from the same card. During this process, we have time to present our service.

    1. We’ve been doing the luggage tags for years, people love them. We just printed up business cards blanks with just our logo as one side and use their business card as the other side. It’s cheap and easy.

  3. Regarding ‘Educational Stuff’: If you are attracting ‘qualified prospects’, aren’t those ‘all your best prospects’?

  4. We found the slot machine software at to be very effective at our trade shows. It manages our booth prize giveaways and draws quite the crowd. Our last show in Orlando went over nicely with the software allowing every booth visitor to play, while being exposed to our corporate logos and prize icons spinning on the slot machine reels… Was terrific.

  5. My personal favorite is the lowly post-it notepad. People tend to stick these notes around the perimeter of their monitors, effectively turning their computers into billboards for your products.

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  7. Goody bags and giveaways will certainly make you stand out. And I think it is great to give them office supplies, like notepads or pens or staplers, which I am sure your customers will use and stay on their desk. With that, I am certain they will always remember your company.

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