For the most part, I am a practical person. I don’t require much “stuff” (my mother is a Depression-era baby) but I expect the things I have to serve a purpose. So, when our team is planning to order our next giveaway/swag/promotional item I always ask, “Is this something I would like to have? Is the item something I would use? Is it something with a decent shelf-life?”
To provide our vendors with some guidelines to help make the decision, we start with the dreaded “B” word—BUDGET. How much are we willing to spend on the items—especially the cost per item? Do we want a really nice item ($25–$50/per item) for the 15–20 great prospects on our list, or are we handing them out by the dozens hoping someone will stay long enough to hear our elevator speech?
I also like the unique. What haven’t people seen before? What will catch someone’s eye and entice them to come to our tradeshow booth over another convention center’s booth? I am reminded of when we ordered sunglass clips for car visors (more than 10 years ago). No one had ever seen them before, so we had to demonstrate to our prospects how they worked—like the Ginzu knife pitchman. The demonstration gave us a chance to have a short conversation at our tradeshow booth and perhaps build just a bit of rapport with our prospects. No one else had them and we really made an impression at that tradeshow. I have one and my husband still uses it—talk about shelf life!
The new cool item is always a good bet, but I have to admit—I have a few mugs from MANY years ago still in my coffee cup rotation. Sometimes old standards like mugs and pens can be great items to the person who will use them over and over and think of you each time they do.