Trade show Promo Trends

Posted by Sharon Kendrew on Oct 25, 2016 9:51:00 AM

The good, The bad, The Cool and The ugly

We've been shipping freight for the tradeshow industry for almost two decades now and we've seen - and shipped - an awful lot of promotional products. Through careful research we have even developed a scientific method for determining the success of your promotional product: subtract the number of promo items shipping out of the show from the number shipped in. Isn't science wonderful??!!

Speaking of promo products - we asked our friends at ProForma Printelligence for some show stopping promo trends - aka The Good. We covered some cheap conference giveways - The Bad, added in some new and perhaps non-traditional items for The Cool and rounded it out with The Ugly - giveaways you couldn't give away and may need to ship to the nearest dumpster.

the GooDpackaging.jpg

Custom packaging seemed so out of reach years (and even months) ago. But new digital print technologies make small runs of custom packaging more accessible than ever. The days of the plain brown box are over. Packaging is now a vessel for more marketing imagery – enhancing your message and protecting your investment. Before show marketing in a custom package is sure to bring traffic to your trade show booth.

The Bad

Penny pinchers hear me now - I’m not sorry to say that the days of the high volume, under a dollar promotional giveaway are over…unless you’re looking to attract the ‘bag lady’ who sweeps the entire pile of giveaways into her convention tote without ever learning what your company does.

Today’s consumers want more useful promotional marketing. Savvy marketers flashlight.jpgunderstand that a few more dollars spent on a few less items can achieve the same budget results and a much higher engagement rate. A great example of this is the Chimney Sweep Company who needed to be in front of the busy business woman. The flat flashlight on a cord was not only mail-ready, but useful in both the kitchen and the crowded purse. For $1.50 more than the cheap flashlight keychain that sat unused in a drawer, this promo had a huge impact.

The Cool

What’s hot is keeping it cold. Thanks to new copper lined, vacuum sealed cooler and drinkware technology, coolers are on fire as promo gifts. Whether you’re keeping your customers’ drinks cold one at a time (for 15 hours) , or inside of a cooler – splurging on the best new tech will make sure your brand and your customer are inseparable. In the months since this drinkware technology hit the market, there are now color options and color imprint options that ensure your brand the best exposure.

The Also Cool

When it comes to apparel, what’s in store should be what your brand is wearing - and what your brand’s customers are wearing. That scratchy giveaway t-shirt is no way to show off your brand - unless you want to end up on the thrift store shelves. These days, decorators have unprecedented access to retail brand ‘blanks’ like American Apparel, Alternative and Next Level. Improvements in decorating techniques mean your brand can also get that water based, retail soft imprint. There’s really no excuse - make clothing that your customers will be comfortable in and proud to wear.

Socks.jpgThe message is as important as the materials. Long gone are the days of just slapping a logo on a shirt and hoping your fans will wear it around. The best messages
 are incorporating a catchy phrase or image that represents the brand. Logos are finding a new home on shirts - at the back yoke, on a sleeve, or at the hem. Sure, the extra location may cost a little more, but the extra exposure makes the investment worth it.

Even hotter than shirts – SOCKS. Just one more way to make sure your brand puts its best foot forward. Keep this and other trends in mind and you’ll be sure to step up your brand’s image.

The Ugly

This could also be called "What Not To Do When Trade Show Planning". Here's what not to consider when you're trying to attract traffic to your trade show exhibit.

Anything bulky and big that can't easily be transported back safely on your target audiences flight. Think hula hoop. Yes, it's been done. No, it was not successful. Add to this list pens that don't work, phone cases in general, highlighters, pocket knives (TSA alert!) andkeychains that are nothing more than, um, keychains. 

Great big huge thanks to Kimble Bosworth of Proforma Printelligence in Nashville, TN. She's saving exhibitors from trade show danger one promo item at a time. 


You're in - need to get out? Download our free whitepaper on Esssential Tips for Trade Show Move Out. 

New Call-to-action



Topics: Insider, Tradeshow Shipping, Tradeshow, Tradeshow Exhibit, Nashville, Events, People You Need to Know