Simply turning up at a business exhibition and manning your stand with a smile on your face is never advisable if you want to use it as an effective marketing platform.
The whole point should be to prepare for it strategically, and this means having the right support material with you. This includes promotional merchandise. When the event is over, and you need to follow up your opportunities, branded gifts can give you an added advantage.
Making the Connection
“Don’t treat promotional merchandise as an optional extra or an unnecessary cost,” advises Chris Rigby, Managing Director of Invogue Incentives. “If you choose wisely, branded gifts can help generate a valuable return on investment.”
The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) suggests this ROI is greater than either radio or outdoor advertising in a 2012 survey.
“If you exhibit at an event, you need to be able to connect with your audience. Promotional merchandise communicates messages about your business and can capture people’s attention”
“At one level, merchandise is a kind of shortcut to engagement,” Chris says. “It can be a conversation-starter and an icebreaker.
Merchandise operates at different levels, from the quirky to the practical, and it is important that businesses exhibiting choose gifts that are appropriate to their brand image.
“In the quest to stand out don’t veer off message,” Chris suggests. “You can be clever, but don’t be too clever, or try too hard for edginess.”
One of the key elements in a successful business exhibition is the follow-up. Making face to face contact with new people can only be the beginning of a business relationship. The rest is about nurturing.
“There has to be a diligent follow-up of connections following an expo,” Chris states, “and gifts are a great way of making this easier.”
“The right merchandise prompts recall without being over-intrusive. It helps fix the exhibitor in the consciousness of the attendee, so that when the follow-up occurs, the ground is already prepared”
“Think of your promotional merchandise as a memento, and something your connections will associate with you when you catch up with them,” Chris concludes. “But remember that your merchandise shouldn’t become your sole focus. It should work as a strategic tool to boost awareness of your brand and resonate with your audience.”