Tips for Boosting Your Trade Show Presence Using Promotional Products

August 16, 2023

Andrew Titus

Andrew Titus is President of Fully Promoted, the world’s largest branded products franchise that helps businesses all over the globe attract, retain and engage with their clients through the use of branded apparel, promotional products and marketing services.

With the post-COVID comeback of in-person trade shows, exhibitors need something to break through the noise and stand out from the competition. Stand in your booth at the next show and watch the sea of attendees flowing past you, looking for a reason to stop and listen to what you have to offer. A booth decked out with the right promotional signage and giveaways can be the bait that helps you reel them in. And with the right strategy, you make an indelible impression during the show and long after it shuts down.  

See What’s Out There

Today’s product choices are more creative and compelling than ever. They include eco-friendly and sustainable items, tech gadgets and accessories, customized products and products aligned with the event’s industry or theme. Additionally, there is an increased focus on practical and useful swag that attendees are likely to keep and use, rather than disposable or generic products.  

Technology, too, has a growing presence: custom-designed USB drives, wireless chargers, smart devices and interactive promotional products that integrate with mobile apps or online platforms. I’ve seen virtual reality headsets that offer tours of a company’s facilities, an innovative and immersive way to engage with potential customers. 

Do you need that “wow” factor? Maybe not. Attendees will absolutely be impressed with virtual reality, but make sure it’s going to accomplish something real. 

Keep it Simple 

The most popular products also tend to be the simplest: 

  • Tote bags: Branded bags are versatile, allowing attendees to carry other giveaways and literature while showcasing your logo, and have a long shelf life.
  • Drinkware: Water bottles and travel mugs are useful, have a large branding area and can be used daily. 
  • Tech gadgets: Phone accessories and power banks align with modern trends, are practical and can be kept for long-term use.
  • Customized apparel: T-shirts, jackets and hats with a logo provide walking advertisements, can create a sense of unity for those working the booth and could be worn by attendees for years.
  • Notebooks or journals: Attendees can use them during the event and they are easy to use and carry.

The effectiveness of these products lies in their usefulness, relevance to the target audience and quality of their design and branding.

Make Room for Must-Haves 

You can skip tech if your target market isn’t big on gadgets, and you don’t have to hand out hats and t-shirts. But certain items should be on your must-get list: 

  • Branded pens: They are affordable, portable and frequently used, providing continuous exposure.
  • Logoed lanyards: They provide convenience for attendees to carry their badges and act as an easy way to increase brand awareness.

Offer Add-Ons

Giveaways don’t have to be tangible products but can be enticing add-ons that reward attendees for engaging with you. Signing up for your mailing list, for instance, offer special discounts or exclusive offers, access to premium content or entry into a giveaway or raffle exclusive to new subscribers. These add-ons incentivize sign-ups and create a sense of value and exclusivity for new subscribers. 

Be Booth-Smart

A good trade show booth is one that effectively attracts attention, retains visitors and engages the company’s brand and message. How you set up your space could mean the difference between welcoming them or watching them walk by. There are several creative ways to decorate with promotional products, but there’s a balance. Here are some dos and don’ts:


  • Offer eye-catching signage and graphics, with well-designed displays that showcase products or services. 
  • Arrange promotional products in visually appealing and attention-grabbing ways. Some ideas include using branded banners, tablecloths or backdrops with the company logo and messaging, incorporating products into the booth design by using them as decorative elements or props and creating displays that incorporate promotional items.
  • Offer comfortable seating areas for conversations.
  • Staff the booth with your friendliest, most knowledgeable employees.


  • Overcrowd the space with too many products or cluttered displays.
  • Use generic or low-quality promotional products that don’t leave a positive impression.
  • Neglect updating booth graphics or messaging to reflect current branding or products.
  • Have booth staff who are disengaged, unapproachable or not educated on the product or service you’re there to introduce.

Finally: Follow Up

The biggest “don’t” may be failing to follow up on leads or contacts you collect during the event. Send an email thanking them for visiting your booth and reminding them (without resorting to hard selling) of your interest in doing business with them.

You may find the goodwill you offer with this personal touch is your most effective giveaway.

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