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6 Tradeshow Giveaway Ideas for 2020

Brand exposure is an important asset to any company that hopes to use an industry tradeshow to bring in customers. Brand exposure requires brand recognition, and this is where the quality of your tradeshow giveaway ideas can make or break this marketing campaign that you’re hoping to set up through the tradeshow.

That’s why you need this advice on how to design your outreach merchandise for your brand, which aspects of ad items draw people in, and some ideas to get started.

Before we go into some specific product ideas, we have to get on the same page in terms of what makes a good tradeshow giveaway item and what doesn’t.

Recognition, action, and emotion

The older tradeshow giveaways used to suffice with smaller items, like a keychain or shirt with the company logo on it. This was because the speed of information and technology was so much slower. Now that companies have access to technology that improves their ability to print and distribute merchandise, there’s also much more competition at the industry tradeshows.

It’s now more important than ever for your merchandise to stand out.

To do this, you can’t just give people an object – you must give them an idea. You want them to be inspired to act, to have a specific emotional attachment to the idea of your brand. When they act, you want to use tradeshow giveaway items to make those actions reflect their loyalty to your company.

Brands can no longer hope to attach their logo to just anything and hope to get results. They have to plan out an actionable recognition response on the part of potential clients. Those clients have to want to act because of your promo and do so in a way that benefits you.

Knowing this, here are 6 great product ideas for your industry tradeshow that encourage recognition, action, and emotion.


Drinkware is a simple giveaway idea that gets a lot of impressions. Branding a water bottle or travel mug helps you get into offices, out into parks, and onto college campuses.

The small association with environmentalism (saving plastic bottles) and keeping prospective clients hydrated is just a little added benefit in terms of the cycle of recognition and emotion that makes the best promotional items compelling.

2.Pen and Pad

A pen and notepad with your logo on it can generate a different action and emotion response that’s useful to you. Your target audience may take your brand around with them everywhere, writing important information onto products that showcase your name.

They will no longer look for their notepad, but specifically for their notepad with your brand on the front, associating your company with the action of writing down important notes, story ideas, or grocery lists.

The point of his brand recognition idea is to give prospective customers something inherently useful that they can use without having to change their behavior.

For instance, not everyone will suddenly wear glasses because they have them. But pen and paper is something that everyone needs eventually and uses regularly. By associating your brand with that action, you enter their thoughts more frequently, get shown off in public, and get the benefits of emotional associations with items that signify practicality.

3.Tote bags

Embroidery still has a certain old-fashioned flare to it. No matter how fancy you can afford to make them, a tote bag is a useful promotional item for future clients and something that doesn’t affect their response to your brand too much.

That sounds like a bad thing but let me explain. Let’s say you’re a bank or firm, particularly something that doesn’t sound too fun. In other words, you’re not Tumblr – something that someone might willingly advertise consciously such as on a shirt.

In that case, passing out t-shirts may not be a useful tradeshow giveaway idea. People consciously respond to what they put on a shirt and will likely be less willing to turn themselves and their image into an industry advertisement.

They’ll take your shirt and use it for work around the house, for painting and yardwork, or possibly as a night shirt. In other words: you won’t get any exposure for your brand other than just for that one immediate person.

However, people don’t care or even notice what’s on their tote bag when they take it to the beach or the grocery store. Your depot, firm, or factory that they wouldn’t normally care to advertise can get brand exposure by choosing the right giveaway item.

Knowing the psychological effect of your brand compared to the likely response of people to different types of merchandise can help you choose the one that fits your company-client relationship. It could allow you to fill grocery stores with your logo rather than get stuffed away in a thousand bottom drawers.

4.Shirts and clothing

Of course, that doesn’t mean t-shirts and other clothing items are useless as marketing tools at industry tradeshows: they’re staple giveaway items for a good reason.

If you’re a company whose brand is recognizable as trendy or associated with good emotions, t-shirts can be particularly helpful for you, even in 2020.

People love to associate themselves with brands that they love. For food places, websites, or any entertainment industry brand, a t-shirt could be an easy sell to people that want to share their preferences publicly.

Also consider other items like hats, socks, and lanyards as potential tools for giving away brand recognition in a way that will convince people to do your advertising for you.

5.Pocket items

When considering what to give your prospective clients, you may want to consider that if it’s something they can put in their pocket, they’ll be more likely to take it with them. If it’s something that they can use daily, all the better.

This is why accessories for phones like metal ring holders and stands or containers for badges and cards are more popular than ever. People always have their phone on them, so these objects are easy to bank on in terms of long-term brand exposure. They’re the kind of thing that gets used every day, without clients even thinking about it.

If people take the action you want them to – putting your accessory on their phone – they’ll be advertising your brand for as long as it’s on there. 

If they’re like most people, they won’t be consciously associating themselves with you every time they take out their phone. Instead, they’ll be giving you exposure purely out of habit.

The action that leads to your increased recognition doesn’t even have to be repeated. You just have to make your giveaway item useful enough for them to want to use it once.

6.Technology and accessories

Technology is a great bet for a tradeshow giveaway idea because people want to use it. Depending on your brand, this could be extra useful because of when your future clients will choose to use your giveaway products.

For instance, portable chargers come out on planes when people are on business trips. With your logo on it, you’re associating yourself with the business process itself. Since your technology is useful, its brand recognition is positive.

This also goes for flash drives and other technology accessories. If there was a way to fill seminars and conferences all over the world with your branded products for other industry professionals to see, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

The recognition part comes from the fact that people can see your logo when they use their technology for work and school (other business professionals and students can see it too). This is accentuated because you’ve given them an item that they’re compelled to use, one with a clear everyday use. This greatly increases your brand’s exposure.

The resulting emotion is useful to you. They use technology with your brand on it to get themselves through the workday and thereby associate your brand with this practicality for anyone watching. 

You don’t have to be a technology company to benefit from this. The emotional response in people’s minds is to see your company and think subconsciously that you’re aware of modern trends in technology and care about customers.

The simple, unrelated initiative of charging someone’s phone or storing their data creates a cycle of recognition and emotion that benefits you.

The Takeaway

Industry trade shows can be daunting to prepare for because they require an intimate knowledge of what prospective clients want from your brand and how it is perceived. You must know what giveaway items can best accelerate their attention in your direction and create the most exposure and actionable benefit to your company. 

Thankfully, by following the simple thought process of recognition to action to emotion, you can brainstorm these products and come up with one that’s right for your company. These choices listed are only some of the more popular options for how brands can get exposure that encourages action on the part of others and positive emotions in response to your brand.

Make sure your tradeshow giveaway ideas take into account how likely people will be to use your items, where and how they will do so, and what the response will be. You want exposure, but not all exposure is equal.