The Main Event
Large events like trade shows, conventions and corporate meetings require a range of products—from uniforms to business card cases—but there are three essentials: writing instruments, name badges and computer accessories. Here's what to sell in those three product categories and the elements to consider when you do:
- Knowing the end-user: When selling writing instruments to a trade show, you need to work closely with the show organizers to find out who will be attending. "You just wouldn't offer the same pen to plumbers that you'd offer to doctors," noted Lee Cullen, sales and marketing coordinator for Hub Pen Company, Braintree, Mass. "Honestly though, it comes down to [an end-buyer's] budget and personal taste," she added.
- Budget concerns: Cullen explained that the size and venue of an event impacts the budget of an end-buyer. "About 75 percent of the industry will purchase an economical plastic pen in the 40 cents to 55 cents range," she said. "The price point will increase to the $1.00 to $3.00 range for high-end corporate events that are really looking to impress their guests. In this case, they'll wow each attendee with their own personalized executive pen."
- Best products: For an event that includes plumbers, doctors and other professions as attendees (like a homeowners' show, for example), Cullen suggested plastic pens. "Plastic pens are often used as giveaways at trade shows and corporate events. They're very economical so you can purchase more of them, therefore gaining more exposure," she said.
- One last thing: Pens with styluses are replacing standard pens as the most popular options for corporate gifts. "Pens with styluses are hot and our customers love them," Cullen stated. They are particularly great for cold-weather promotions. "You can still wear your gloves and operate your devices," she noted. "We're responding to consumer demand with an expanded selection and debuting a three-in-one pen, stylus and light combination for 2014."
- Budget concerns: "Usually cost is a factor for trade shows and corporate events," said Josh Robbins, president of Vault Promotions, Hendersonville, Tenn. "No one wants to spend a ton of money on badges that will be worn for only a few days," he explained. A small budget does not need to limit your client's options for badges. "Because of [small budgets], people assume they have to use clear vinyl badge holders with paper inserts that they print themselves, but that isn't always the case," Robbins said.
- Best products: "There are a number of economical badges that can be customized with company logos or event logos and even be personalized," Robbins noted. He offered event tags (badges with lanyards) and reusable nametags as good options. "[Reusable name tags] are great for organizations that throw parties and mixers or for badges that will need to be used at multiple shows by different people," he added.
- Personalization preferences: Robbins noted that full-color designs add value to a badge, in terms of aesthetic appeal and usefulness to an event attendee. "By digitally imprinting, you can cheaply include show or event schedules to be imprinted onto the back of the badge for a quick reference guide. Printing in full color also eliminates any worries about including logos from sponsors for the events," he said.
- Added value: "For shows, it is always a great idea to sell spots or visibility on the badge to sponsoring companies. Badges are one of the most visible items at any show, and offering that visibility to a sponsor is always an attractive advertising option," Robbins said. He offered an example. "We print many badges for destination trips and events that also double as a souvenir. By incorporating artwork into the design of the badge that ties into the destination, people hold on to the badges in the future as keepsakes or souvenirs," he said. "Many of these events will also add magnets to the back of the badge. This not only serves as a way to attach the actual badge at the show, but also allows the badge owner to use it as a magnet back at the office or at home."
- One last thing: Robbins suggested encouraging your clients to have fun with badges. "[A badge] can be a critical tool for breaking the ice at events. Using nicknames or funny tag lines on personal badges create a huge opportunity for conversation at events," he said. "Adding a bit of personality to your badges can go a long way toward establishing successful events."
- Knowing the end-user: "Computer accessories for a trade show are suitable for nearly all markets," stated Paula Piano, director of sales and marketing for Las Vegas-based Digispec. The consideration you have to take with an event product with such wide appeal is this: do the end-users usually work in the office or on the road? "We actually see a large variety of office workers using Frame-It Flex window mouse pads at work with family photos or reminder notes in the window portion," Piano said. "We see just as many on-the-go workers using MousePaper note paper mouse pads for daily reminders to organize their lives in addition to using a Blackberry or iPhone."
- Best products: Piano listed the top computer accessories for events and trade shows. "Corporate events tend to use either a very durable product that easily slides into a suitcase, a fabric mouse pad to place on their keyboard for easy transportation, or they want a mouse pad that assists them at the show, such as a MousePaper note paper mouse pad with a calendar," she said.
- Personalization preferences: Piano suggested full-color imprints for mouse pads. "The full-color imprint with full bleed serves as a popular tool that doesn't limit the amount of information you can showcase on the mouse pad," she said. "For example, you can add calendars, keyboard shortcuts, high-resolution images and so much more. It allows for the ability to do more, giving end-users a reason to keep it."