Carolina Marketer is pleased to introduce the following post from this month’s guest blogger, Mike Bell.

Many of our clients are exhibitors at trade shows and they often ask us for trade show giveaway ideas and strategy. Our initial discussion with them is along the lines of what is the show’s focus, how many attendees are expected, what level in an organization are the attendees, budgets, etc.

 Generally, our advice is:

1)      If you want to give something to every attendee, buy a big fishbowl, fill it with some sort of candy and put it out so everyone that wants some can have some. This helps you avoid the “dreaded tradeshow promotional product thieves”, those attendees only interested in collecting promotional products. (Heidi Thorne)

2)      Consider inviting potential clients to your booth by mailing them an invitation prior to the show that promises a “reward” if they stop to see you.

3)      Qualify, qualify and qualify. In an earlier life, we used to get on a plane and visit anyone that was even remotely interested in our software and services. After we wore ourselves out traveling, we defined who our potential clients were and developed a set of questions or talking points to qualify them as viable prospects.

4)      Offer a firm handshake and request a business card from everyone you meet. This provides you with an opening to ask questions and qualify the person and/or the company represented. Throw away the cards that are thrown, literally, into the booth. These cards will have something like this printed on the back: “Please send me 3 catalogs and free samples to the address on the front of this card at your expense.”

5)      Trade show giveaways should be easily moved to and from the trade show and since most attendees are from out-of-town, the item should fit smoothly in their luggage for the trip home.

6)      Have a little something extra special for existing clients that stop by to see you. 

7)      And most of all, be just as sharp during the last hour of the last day as you were during the first hour of the first day. Because you never know when the “ONE” attendee you were hoping to meet, will walk up to you and say, “Hello, my name is…”

Mike Bell resides in Greenville, SC and is a partner at PROforma AdMark Solutions Group,,, and He can be reached by email at and by phone at 864-239-0050. He can be followed on Twitter @proformaguy.