Trade shows provide outstanding opportunities for promotional products distributors to find top clients. As exhibitors, most distributors tend to set up a display showcasing all kinds of products, too many sometimes. Understandably, given the enormous quantity of products available, it’s not easy to narrow down the selection. It’s easy to end up with a ton of stuff on the table no matter how much you try. In the end, since promotional items need no introduction, your display will speak for itself in terms of what you sell. Visitors who stop by will start conversations centered around items and prices.

A better option, however,  is to have an engaging activity going on at your booth that creates enough curiosity. You will stand out from the crowd, and attract a lot more traffic.  Better yet, conversations will revolve around your creative abilities, and how you can help your clients have the most visited booth. You will be showing by example creative use and implementation of promotional products.  If you can do that, you will generate much better quality leads, which you can convert in more profitable clients.

Providing end-to-end promotional campaigns that incorporate creative use of promo items is an effective way to set yourself apart in this highly commoditized marketplace. Although most distributors will agree to this, it’s not so easy to do. It takes thinking outside the product search tool. Most importantly, it means starting with the end in mind, as stated by Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For a trade show, if the ultimate goal is to attract visitors and engage with as many of the as possible, this is the place to start.

A good trade show program can take time to conceptualize and develop, but it will be produce high returns.  Not only will you be prepared to put on a show on a moment’s notice, but you can also “package it” as your very own turn-key program. You can sell it multiple times, profiting for all the products and services the program requires to produce.

The Case Study

Here is a fantastic example of such program by Brand Fuel for their participation in a marketing conference.  Their trade show program generated $16,000 in new business, plus added revenue from “renting” their insanely creative promotion.

Partnering with Media Tree, they came up with The Swag Lottery Machine for an interactive, personalized experience for their visitors. They had to insert a “Swag Ticket” with their name and email address to get a classic vinyl record.  A strategically placed Brand Fuel sticker offered a reward code for digital music, movies and more. Additionally, people could play their newly acquired records in a turntable, allowing Brand Fuel the opportunity to engage in business conversations.

Brand Fuel also went all out with their pre-show promotion on social media, generating thousands of impressions on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


You can read more about Brand Fuel’s program here. Hopefully this give you inspiration to come up with  your for your own trade show adventure.

Do you have a great case studies of your own? We’d love to hear about them!