An American Editor

November 12, 2022

On the Basics — In-person events and holiday gifts call for lasting giveaways

Filed under: Marketing,On the Basics — An American Editor @ 2:56 pm
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By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner

An American Editor

In-person events and conferences are back, and I’ve attended several recently that offered opportunities not only to meet, greet, network with, and learn from colleagues, other freelancers, and potential clients, but to think about how to make the best use of exhibitor and sponsorship offerings.

Cruising the exhibit area of any conference is always fun — and often educational, and even profitable. We can learn a lot about new products and services, sometimes try some out and maybe win prizes and raffles to attract us to various booths.

What I’ve always found interesting is the items that exhibitors give away. Chocolates and other candies are popular, as are packets of chips, popcorn, and crackers or cookies, especially for people whose products don’t lend themselves to portable samples.

The problem with giving away food by the bowlful is that it’s temporary (and attendees can be allergic to much of it). Exhibitors should think beyond the candy to giveaways that attendees will keep and use.

That means logo- and contact info-imprinted pens or pencils, mugs, flash drives, paper cutters, mouse pads, laptop or cellphone covers, tote bags, small backpacks or fanny packs (yes, those are still a thing!), notepads, keychains, T-shirts, and even stuffed animals, brain-power toys such as puzzles or action figures: anything that will last beyond the event. I’ve heard from and even seen colleagues who still have mugs and sweatshirts from my Communication Central conferences of several years ago!

And the more timeless, the better, so dropping the event date is often a good idea — although “timely” can be relative: This past year, facemasks showed up at several events, and might still be appreciated for another year or two as we continue to cope with Covid-19 mutations and variations.

Some of these might seem commonplace or over-done, but they work because they’re practical, useful and lasting. As several people said at a recent conference where I represented a reporting organization that was giving away pens and notepads, “We can never have enough pens.”

I would avoid anything magnetized, since magnets placed too close to a computer could damage files.

All of this is not to discount the value of the smell of popping corn to lure people to your booth in an exhibit hall — the popcorn might not last, but you could always include a lasting tschotchke to go along with it!

With the holidays approaching, the same philosophy of lasting items applies to gifts for our clients, especially because we rarely have any idea of what they might be allergic to. One of my favorite gifts to clients several years ago was a mug imprinted with the coming year’s calendar, along with — of course — my name and contact info. It was very well-received — but only good for that year. Since then, I’ve done mugs with my business name and contact info, but nothing with any dates.

And before you invest in such items, as well as the cost of shipping or delivering them, keep in mind that some clients — primarily those working for government agencies at any level — might either not be allowed to receive gifts from consultants/freelancers at all or have monetary limits on what they can accept.

What have you used or have tried using as event giveaways and client gifts? Which ones worked, and which would you not use again?

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