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How Are You Measuring the Effectiveness and ROI of Your Promotional Products?

March 12th, 2014 No comments

Three Simple Ideas to Help You  Measure the ROI of Your Promotional Products

measuring the ROI of promotional productsAustin, Texas: I’ve been in the promotional products industry for over 30 years.

I have seen many trends come and go– yet one thing remains constant: it is still rare for me to find a marketer that takes the time to measure the ROI of their promotional product expenditures.

If you are still calling your promotional products such names as “trinkets and trash” or “tchotchkes”- STOP USING THEM!

If you are looking to give away cheap promotional items without regard to who is getting them and how it will affect your ROI, then you are wasting money.

Would you spend money on a print ad, Google AdWords, a billboard, direct mail program–without measuring its ROI?  I would hope not.

If you think of promotional products as a way to market and promote your brand, then you will begin to take it more seriously as an advertising medium.

And you will begin to measure its ROI.

Promotional products, when used correctly, offer one of the lowest costs per impression of any advertising platform.

What are three simplest ways to measure and track the ROI of your promotional products?  Here are a few suggestions:

1) Establish a unique URL.  Get a unique URL or landing page and print it on your promotional products.  You can then track the hits/sales/leads that yo get and trace those back directly to your promotional products.

2) Print a Call-to-Action on your promotional products that you can measure–such as: ” Bring in this pen to get 10% off on your next purchase”. It is easy to measure how much activity this promotional product brings to you.

3) Print a special phone number on the promotional item. This is similar to idea  number 1 above–and with Google Voice, you can easily get a separate phone number for each of your marketing campaigns.

Will you take the time and effort to measure the ROI of your promotional products – or will continue to hope and pray that you get a return.

How will you ever know which forms of advertising and marketing work best for your specific needs unless you test, measure–then test again.

Happy Promoting!

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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 33 years of experience in running and implementing promotional marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of organic promotional products,   imprinted bamboo promotional items, imprinted live tree seedlings and plant giftsseeded paper promotional items and  recycled imprinted pens and pencils in the country.

In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller has recently completed his CAS degree and BASI degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 250,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green and promoting environmental stewardship. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

Eco Marketing Solutions has a strong Code of Conduct as they carefully vet and qualify all their suppliers.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

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Get a Better ROI on Your Promotional Products with Personalization

May 17th, 2013 No comments

Try Personalization on Your Next Promotional Product Order To Increase Usage and ROI

personalized advertising specialties

By Robert Piller

Austin, TX: One of the biggest discussions I often have with my clients is about maximizing ROI on their promotional products.

We can spout industry statistics–like the average tote bag is seen over 1,000 times per month– to help get that point across.

We can discuss cost per impression of promotional products vs. other advertising media – and that is usually very effective.

But, if you want to ensure that a customer keeps and uses the promotional product that you have given to them– nothing beats individual personalization.

The ability to do variable data digital imprinting is a fast growing segment of the promotional products industry.

There are now hundreds of promotional products — from imprinted pens and phone skins to mugs and journal books — that can be personalized with the recipient’s name.

And nobody loves the sound or sight of their name more than that person.

Looking to increase usage of the promotional products that you give away–think about personalization.

Personalization on promotional products is simple to do.  Just get a list of clients or pre-registered attendees to an event- put into an Excel spreadsheet- and that’s it.

How effective is personalization?

Well, how many items with your name do you still keep around – and how many have you thrown away.

Case closed.

Consider personalized promotional products to keep your brand remembered – and to help maximize your ROI of your next marketing campaign.

It will be money well spent – and help you get more bang for your promotional dollar.
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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 28 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of recycled and reusable water bottles and imprinted coffee mugs, reusable and organic tote bags, recycled pens and pencils in the country. In addition to being a noted writer on issues of social and safety compliance, Robert Piller recently completed his CAS degree and BASI degree — one of the highest honors in the promotional products industry for his years of continuous education and certification. His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

Eco Marketing Solutions has a strong Code of Conduct as they carefully vet and qualify all their suppliers.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutionsAsk us Your Green Marketing Questions Anytime at  Facebook.com/ecomarketingsolutions and join the conversation.

 


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Imprinted Promotional Products Yield Lowest Cost per Impression of any Advertising Medium

January 5th, 2009 1 comment

The results are in… and the June/July 2008 survey of 618 businesspeople on behalf of the Advertising Specialty Institute prove that imprinted promotional products return the best return on investment of any advertising medium.

A summary of the conclusions of the report are:

• Instant recall: More than 8 out of 10 (84%) respondents remembered the advertisers of the promotional products they’re received.

• Very impressionable: 42% of respondents had a MORE favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving the item. And nearly a quarter (24%) said they are MORE likely to do business with the advertiser on the items they receive.

• It’s all business: Most respondents (62%) have done business with the advertiser on a promotional product after receiving the item.

• User-friendly: The majority (81%) of promotional products were kept because they were considered useful.

• Staying power: More than three-quarters of respondents have had their items for more than 6 months.

• Bag it!: Among wearables, imprinted tote bags were reported to be used most frequently with respondents indicating that they used their bags an average of 9 times per month. They also deliver the most impressions: Each bag averages 1,038 impressions per month.

• Most impressive: The average CPI of an advertising specialty item is $0.004; as a result, marketers get a more favorable return on investment from advertising specialties than nearly any other popular advertising media.

With budgets tight this year, doesn’t it make sense to utilize a proven medium to keep your name and message in front of your clients and prospects?

Imprinted advertising specialties, from tote bags, pens, shirts, caps, USB’s, mugs and other imprinted gifts can help you to increase and maintain business during this tough economy. While some of your competitors are cutting their promotional budgets or spending their money on more expensive forms of advertising, your company can gain top-of-mind market penetration for pennies per impression through proven promotional products—delivered in a way to maximize its impact.

Promotional specialties can be used as a gift with purchase, as part of a customer loyalty or incentive program, as a thank you gift or as part of a trade show campaign.

Choosing the right imprinted gift, and the proper distribution of it, can help you maximize sales and gain more referral business this year – at a fraction of the cost of other forms of advertising.

Image provided by Advertising Specialty Institute

Image provided by Advertising Specialty Institute


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Note: The survey was a series of interviews conducted in June/July 2008 in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia regarding promotional products they had received. The purpose of the interviews was to understand how advertising specialties influence end-users’ purchasing decisions; determine the number of impressions of popular advertising specialties; and analyze the Cost Per Impression (CPI) of advertising specialties compared with other popular advertising media. Further, during October 2008, an online panel survey was conducted among recipients of advertising specialties to augment the non-wearables sample from the in-person interviews. Results have been combined in the report where appropriate. There were 213 completed Web based interviews, for a total of 618 completed surveys for this study. Respondents were asked if they had received any promotional products in the last 12 months. Most respondents were business/professional people (84%) and all were age 21 or older.
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Robert Piller, president of Eco Marketing Solutions, is experienced in green marketing campaigns and recycled promotional products.  He has worked with thousands of retailers across the country to get them to offer reusable imprinted tote bags for their customers, to help reduce the landfill waste caused by plastic bags.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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Trade Show Marketing: Following Up After a Trade Show (Part 3 of 3)

September 13th, 2008 No comments

(Part 3 of a 3 Part Series)
In this third and final segment on trade show marketing ideas, I will address ideas to help improve your trade show results through proven post-show follow up. I am still amazed at the number of companies that fail to follow up promptly and diligently after their trade shows, which is surely leaving money on the table and wasted opportunity.

Have you ever waited after a trade show that you attended for literature or samples that you had asked for, but which never arrived? Here are some trade show strategies to help you to make the most from your trade show experience—post-show and to increase your return on investment.

Most companies need to have multiple contact or “touches” with prospective vendors before they feel comfortable in purchasing from them. Here are nine ideas to help you capture more post-show sales with very little effort.

1. Send in Leads Daily: Don’t get bogged down with your regular paperwork and activities once you return to the office by trying to tackle a stack of show leads at one time. Many trade shows offer a scanner where you can electronically capture the contact information of the prospect in second by scanning their name tag. Each night, send the file as an attachment to your office, where, hopefully a well-thought out after-show packet is ready to be sent out.

Note: Do not become so enamored with this scanning technology that all your staff does it scan cards and not develop rapport with prospective customers. I have been at shows where neighboring booths compete with each other for most names scanned. Do not opt for quantity over quality of leads.

If a scanner is unavailable, you can buy a business card scanner from Cardscan and attach to your laptop or cell phone, where you can instantly scan in a prospect’s business card and upload your list each night to your office. If you still want to collect business cards, bring a few FedEx envelopes and send them overnight to the office after each day. Speed is critical in showing your professionalism to your clients. It will also set you apart from your competition.

2. Rank Prospects: All prospects are not the same, so devise a method of ranking prospects on the spot. You can attach a questionnaire to their business card or give a score or ranking (on a scale of one to ten) on the back of the cards—with a comment or two. This will help you to determine which prospects should be followed up first.

3. Take Notes on Back of Business Cards: No matter how good your memory is, you will not remember every customer or prospect you meet– and what specifically you discussed, information you promised to send, etc. On the back of their business card, write a one or two line message as a reminder, such as “interested in XYZ machine” or ” wants me to email her specifications on Model B123″ or “deciding between us and Acme CO. and will get back to me in two weeks”.

4. Have Post-Show Kit Ready Ahead of Time: As I mentioned in step one, you should have a complete follow up kit ready to mail out—just waiting for the address label and postage to be applied. That way, your assistant can get the kits out while you are out of town and exude stellar professionalism.

5. Send Lumpy Mail: Flat standard sized envelopes will end up in a pile, unopened for weeks. A padded envelope with an irregularly shaped item inside will get opened immediately. Send an imprinted promotional product, such as an imprinted stress ball or imprinted pen or other unique advertising specialty with your note and catalog — and your package will get opened ahead of all the rest.

To maximize the effectiveness, get an imprinted circle label or decal and attach to the outside of the package with the headline “XYZ TRADE SHOW FOLLOW UP—SAMPLE ENCLOSED”. Everyone loves freebies – and by mentioning the trade show, the prospect will know it is not random junk mail. Choose an item that is not breakable and is not too heavy. A promotional product distributor that specializes in trade show marketing can help you or visit our website, www.ecomarketingsolutions.com to see our newly updated website that offers a free tool that allows you to select from over 500,000 imprinted and logoed promotional items, which you can sort them by price range or by theme. It is a handy tool that can save you a great deal of time and money.

6. Decide on Frequency of Contact: How often do you plan to contact with the prospect after the show and in what form of contact—newsletter, email, letter, phone call, samples? Customers may need five ten contacts or touches before they feel comfortable with you and your company. Reach them in several ways—some prefer email, some fax, some like phone calls. I recommend a multi-pronged approach, with a sample after the show, a phone call, then an email, then a newsletter, etc.

Be sure you walk the fine line of keeping your name in front of your prospects without becoming a nuisance or nag. Each “customer touch” should offer some benefit to your prospect, such as industry news, money saving offers, sales strategy, comparison to competition, etc. Don’t just keep asking for the order without becoming known as a source of industry or business ideas.

7. Stay in Touch With Your Reps: Independent reps or salespeople are often not as motivated by trade show leads as the home office is. The reason can be because too many reps are sent a stack of unqualified business cards without notes, so the reps assume these are cold leads, at best. Help your reps by breaking the list down into categories, such as “immediate need/30-60 days/60-90 days/90+ days” or break down your trade show leads to “A-B-C” accounts. Do a little homework upfront and you will create a stronger partnership between your office and your reps. Also, be sure to keep duplicates so you can follow up with your sales force in a set period of time.

One more note: don’t rely on your reps to make the immediate contact or post- show follow up. Be sure to send your information packet to the prospect so that they have some communication from you within the first seven days after a show.

8. Give a Reason to Follow up Immediately With an Email: If a prospect looks promising, tell them that you will email them something of value to them right after the show. Ask for their business card and write a note exactly what it is, whether it is to send artwork or proposal, email a white paper, information on a new service –whatever. That way, you can send them an email, which will already be in their in-box from you when they get back to their office, with the heading “White Paper You Asked for at The XYZ Show”, or something to that effect.

9. Speed is Key: As I have mentioned several times, prompt follow up is imperative in closing more trade show sales. Be sure your team is on the same page regarding the importance of prompt follow up and you will be pleasantly surprised at how you can stand apart from your competition.

Following these nine post-trade show ideas can make you more effective at your trade shows and help you to maximize your trade show success. Stand out from your competition and be known as the company that delivers on what they promised at the trade show. You will close more sales and maximize your trade show ROI.

Happy Trade Show Selling.

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Note: To view the other segments, visit http://blog.ecomarketingsolutions.com/?cat=65

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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Follow ecomarketing on Twitter

Trade Show Marketing: How to Attract the Best Qualified Leads and Prospects to Your Booth (Part 2 of 3)

September 10th, 2008 1 comment

(Part 2 of 3)

The day you have marked on the calendar is here. Today is the first day of the trade show you have planned for over the past few months. You’ve lost sleep, spent time at Kinko’s the other night running off last-minute flyers and signage you forgot about, and now you are ready to go.

Or are you ready?

In my previous column, I discussed several strategies for maximizing your trade show effectiveness and return on investment.

In this column, I will be discussing several “at-show” trade show activities and tips you can do to ensure a successful trade show.

Guerilla Marketing: Some companies do an end-run around the show management’s policy of a 5-mile radius of non-competing activities by hosting hospitality suites at nearby hotels (or even the host hotel or at the corporate home office or regional facility). I have even heard of companies that host private invitation-only golf tournaments the day prior to a trade show to get the maximum bang for their buck as they bring in their top prospects, customers and vendors. Be forewarned, however, that if caught violating the show management’s rules, you can be fined, banned, humiliated and forced to walk the plank (well maybe not the plank). Many of these same functions can be done with the blessing of show management with a smile, charm and some money.

Walk the Walk, not Talk the Talk: Many times you can get into a trade show by applying as an attendee or by telling management that you would like to walk the show to decide whether or not you want to exhibit the following year. As an attendee, you can visit your competitor’s booth and hear their sales presentations – though you may also be kicked flat on your backside, as well as thrown out of the show by management. I have always found it good business to introduce myself to my competitors, offer to swap brochures (you are each going to end up with each others’ sales material one way or the other) and just start a friendly conversation. Sometimes you can learn a great deal just be being honest and up-front. (Remember the golden rule: “Do unto others…”)

Walking a show floor also gives you an opportunity to actively seek out potential customers, either in the aisles, at seminars, in the restrooms (yes, I have seen it and it is not pretty), at lunch or at other booths. Remember, exhibitors do not like to have salespeople visit their booth on their time (since they paid for their booth space and you didn’t). Best approach is to arrive early (just as the show floor opens) or just as the show closes, as it will be less busy then and exhibitors may welcome a conversation during a slow time.

Attending Seminars: Attending seminars is an excellent way to meet prospects and renew old acquaintances. Same strategy applies here—get there early and stay late—as you will often get an opportunity to meet many high caliber prospects. Have your 30-second elevator speech ready and met and mingle.

Celebrity Appearances: You can plan to have a celebrity at your booth or an opportunity to meet the president or CEO of your company (if that is an appealing option). I have seen booths with local professional athletes, sportscasters, painters, wrestlers, actors, cheerleaders, Spuds McKenzie (am I dating myself?), singers, body builders and “celebrities” that I did not recognize at all.

If promoted properly, a celebrity appearance can bring people into your booth, giving you an opportunity to try to qualify them while they wait in line. A typical Hollywood B-list actor can be had for as little as $5,000 and as high as $25,000 or more per day, so it depends on your budget. Although this can bring both exhibitors and attendees into your booth, I believe that anything you can afford to do that get’s people to stop in, and gives you an opportunity to qualify them, is a viable option.

Sponsorship Opportunities: There are many opportunities for sponsorships, such as hosting the show’s prayer meetings, breakfasts, luncheons, golf tournaments, speakers, concerts, beverage carts, panel discussions, Wi-Fi service, etc. Depending on your budget, these can be an expensive option, but it will give you an opportunity to get your name in the directory, on banners, and mentioned several times throughout the show. These events will also allow you to mix and mingle with many of the top companies in your industry, giving you and your firm instant credibility.

Ad Specialties/Promotional Products: As I mentioned in my first section, a well-targeted imprinted promotional product can stop a person who would normally pass by your booth – and keep your company in their minds after the show. It goes back to the billboard question I like to ask my clients: “If you can put your advertising billboard on your customer’s desk (or in their car), how much would you pay to rent that space?” A useful and meaningful advertising specialty with a quality imprint can help keep your brand identity in the prospect’s mind when they are ready to make a decision – without the high cost of “rent”.

Remember what I mentioned in the earlier column about an A-B-C selection of swag—a low-cost gift for non-qualified visitors; a higher priced gift for qualified prospects and customers; an even higher valued gift for members of the media, “A-list” prospects and others. Be sure to keep the higher priced gifts out of eyesight so they only go to those you intend them for.

I also suggest packing your literature with the imprinted gift so that when they are handed the promotional item, they get your sales information, as well. I have sold hundreds of orders of imprinted bags, both plastic and fabric bags (both made of recycled material to avoid these ending up in landfills, of course), so when you hand out the item, not only does your billboard get carried around the entire show floor, but your sales material is placed inside ahead of time—ensuring it gets to that buyer.

Another good idea is to hand out a live tree seedling tree in a tube, with a single sheet sales flyer wrapped around it. When you hand it to the recipient, tell them that you are giving them a live tree seedling, so when they get home, they should immediately take it out of their bag and plant it. What happens is that nobody wants to kill a tree, so instead of waiting for that mythical “rainy day” to go through the stack of collected trade show material, they will get home and reach for the tree seedling—with your sales flyer wrapped around it. It is a low-cost way to ensure your material gets looked at.

Lights, Camera, Action: Nothing makes a booth look bleaker than dark spaces and shadows. Pay for electricity and have bright halogen lights highlighting your booth, as well as calling out special sections. Be sure to keep the lights high, as halogen lights can get very hot – making your booth quite warm. Lighting is one area you do not want to skimp on.

Personnel: As a final suggestion, don’t forget your personnel. They should be armed with a few opening statements (open ended questions) and given a plan on how to stand, how to introduce good prospects, how to move along visitors that are not prospects, etc. I also shipping a case or two of bottled water to your booth so you and your staff can stay hydrated. Rest them and rotate the staff if possible, as breaks as few as 15-minutes can help to rejuvenate a person and make them more upbeat.

Following these ideas can help you make the most of your time on the show floor. In my final segment of this article, I will discuss one of the least used, and most important, of the three areas of trade show marketing—the post-show follow up process.

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Note: To view the other segments of this three part column, visit http://blog.ecomarketingsolutions.com/?cat=65

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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

Follow ecomarketing on Twitter

Trade Show Marketing: How to Attract the Best Qualified Leads and Prospects to Your Booth (Part 1 of 3)

September 8th, 2008 No comments

(Part One of a Three Part Series)

One of the biggest hurdles my clients’ face is in proper trade show marketing. A trade show can easily cost from $10,000 for a basic 10 foot by 10 foot booth, with one or two people manning it, to $100,000 or more for larger booths with a full staff, state of the art booth, graphics, drayage, hotels, meals, taxis, etc.

Why spend that much money and not focus some time and energy on maximizing your return on investment? Often trade show planning and marketing falls to someone who is given conflicting goals and objectives (or no objectives at all) and that person is often without a dedicated staff, budget and little management input.

Without clear objectives, you cannot measure the success of a trade show, other an ambiguous overall grade. Are you looking to increase sales? To brand your name in the marketplace? To secure appointments for your sales team? To connect with present accounts? To meet with members of the press?

After you decide on the overall goal, break it down into a quantifiable amount, such as opening up 20 new accounts with projected first year sales of $100,000 each; securing 25 product demonstrations within the next 60 days, etc.

As a veteran of well over 300 trade shows over the past 20 years where I have been an exhibitor, and over 1,500 others where I have worked with my clients to maximize their trade show exhibiting dollars, I have practically seen it all—the good, the bad, the lame and the ugly when it comes to trade show marketing.

I have exhibited and worked some of the nation’s largest shows (National Restaurant Show, International Housewares Show, National Association of Convenience Store, New York Gift Show and the National Hardware Show, to name a few), as well many small regional, state, and city Chamber of Commerce shows, and I can attest to the importance of pre-show/at-show and post-show activities, and would like to break these down in a few simple steps.

In this column, I will be talking about the importance of Pre-Show trade show activities. In following columns, I will address At-Show and Post-Show activities and strategies.

Pre-Show Activity

There are several options in promoting your appearance at a trade show, and I have broken down a few of the most popular, in no particular order of importance.

Big Smile Approach—You can just show up, smile a lot and hope attendees walk by your booth and stop in. Your signage and name may bring them in, but remember, attendees are busy, often in a hurry and may have their head turned in the opposite direction of your booth – and miss you completely. Plus, try as they might, not everyone walks down every aisle, they may be on their cell phone or talking to an associate as they pass by – or may see your booth, give you a head nod, and keep walking by.

Many of my fellow exhibitors use this approach with mixed results. To pull it off, you will need some aggressive sales people to stop people in the aisles. A well-planned question or a give-away can help stop them in their tracks, but don’t try the “How are you doing?” or “Nice Day, huh?” approaches. Your question should be thought-provoking and open-ended, such as” Do you want to see the latest product that can improve your email click-through rate by 12%?”. The question should be designed to appeal to the right demographic.

Lucky Winner Approach: Have a drawing or contest at the booth: I have seen spin-the-wheel for savings or treasure chest hunts, where people try their key in a treasure chest lock to try to open the chest and win a prize. Anything you can to do to create movement and activity at your booth can work. The key is to find a quick way to move the unqualified people out of the booth quickly and keep the better qualified prospects in your booth for a longer period of time.

People like booths that are crowded and have people in it, so as not to miss out on the product that everybody else is looking at. It’s an interesting psychological study on human nature and the fear of missing out on something good.

Pre-Show Marketing: I would consider pre-show email, pre-show mailings, pre-show telephone calls and trade show directory advertising as pre-show advertising.

You can invite prospects into your booth to receive a free gift, special show pricing or terms and to introduce them to your new products or services. I have had success with all four of these activities, with varying degrees of success. If you can secure appointments ahead of time with your present customers and prospects, that can help to ensure a successful show.

I like a combination of email and a postcard or letter, just in case your client or prospect misses one – or forgets to bring their email printout.

The offer a quality imprinted premium for stopping by and visiting can also be successful. These days, many people are looking towards eco-friendly promotional items. I have heard the word tschotchkes being thrown around in certain circles, but when done right, a free premium or gift can get people to stop by. Some people call it swag. In fact, at Hollywood award shows, they entice celebrities to be announcers not with cash, but with a bag of goodies they call “swag”.

I have sent oil executives pre-show postcard mailings picturing the free item just for stopping by, with a redemption rate of over 18%. If it is unique, limited, and, especially a quality item, people will come by and visit your booth. People love free goods, and in a trade show environment, many are actively looking for free gifts, regardless of their professional title, salary or way they dress.

Like anything thing else, it is choosing the right item for the right demographics. At electronics and high tech shows, a free quality water bottle, MP3 download card or imprinted USB stick can be enticing. In an eco-friendly environment, it can be a free live tree seedling a tube, a garden kit or a Frisbee made from recycled plastic.

Do your research and get a fun and useful gift. You can use our free service at www.ecomarketingsolutions.com that allows you to view over 500,000 imprinted promotional items, which you can sort by keyword or price range. In fact, I often suggest having three groups of gifts — one for good prospects, one for top prospects and one to get non-qualified people to leave your booth with a smile. Keep you two top levels out of the public’s eye, and award them discreetly and with pride.

Trade shows can be your most cost-effective method of attracting and meeting with top prospects and renewing ties with present customers. They can also be a huge money-loser when not done correctly. Pre-show marketing can help guarantee you the success you and your company deserve. You owe it to yourself, and to the rest of your team and employees to maximize the show’s effectiveness.

Here’s to a successful trade show.

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Note: To view the other segments of this three part column, visit http://blog.ecomarketingsolutions.com/?cat=65

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Robert Piller, President of Eco Marketing Solutions, has over 25 years of experience in running and implementing green marketing campaigns and is a leader in the recycled promotional products industry, including offering one of the largest selections of reusable and organic tote bags, recycled and biodegradable water bottles, recycled pens and pencils in the country.

His company’s website, EcoMarketingSolutions.com, features over 25,000 eco-friendly promotional items in all price ranges, for any business or organization interested in going green. The site’s handy search tool helps you easily find biodegradable, organic and recycled imprinted promotional items in your price range and time frame.

You can also reach him by email (robert (at) ecomarketingsolutions.com) or comment on his blog postings at GreenSpotBlog.com or below at his Twitter link.

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