Trade shows are a great place to get promotional gifts, which is often called “SWAG” or “stuff we all get”. As part of their marketing, the vendors who set up tables will print business cards, flyers and brochures in order to provide information to prospective customers. Yet, they may also print their logos on more valuable items or reusable items to give away. The reasoning behind this is that people might throw away business cards, flyers and brochures, but if it’s a tool, or a flashlight, or tech accessory they might keep it around, which prolongs the exposure of the logo and arguably acts as a better promotional item.
Actually Free conducted an experiment to demonstrate that trade shows are a great way to get freebies. I attended the Small Business Expo in Phoenix on August 31, 2017. It was a free event. They didn’t even really verify that I was business owner, all I had to do was say I was. (In fact I am, but the point is that anyone could have gone to this event and admission was free). Since it was in downtown Phoenix, I did have to pay for parking. In my case it was a business expense, but if anyone who did not yet own a business wanted to go and not pay for parking, they could’ve arrived cheaper on the light rail or had someone drop them off. The event was promoted on places like Eventbrite.com. Another way to find conferences, trade shows and events is to go to the website of a local conference center or convention center to see their calendar.
Here are the items I got for free that were deemed of any value:
- 2 T-shirts ($5 each)
- 2 cell phone power banks ($5 each)
- Cell phone car charger with 2 usb ports ($4)
- Tape measure ($4)
- Water bottle ($3)
- 3 flashlights ($1 each)
- Sticky notes & pen ($1)
- Stress relief cush cube ($1)
- 2 laptop camera covers ($1 each)
- Three-colored highlighter ($1)
- Computer screen and keyboard cleaning brush ($1)
- Reusable bag ($1)
- Candy (1.50)
- Grubhub Coupon code (not pictured) for $75 off a minimum order of $50 or more.
Total value of freebies: $117.50
Some of the freebies could potentially sell for more if they weren’t branded as a promotional item. For instance, the USB car charger could sell for $8-10 at a roadside gas station. Also, t-shirts usually sell for $10 each. However, we made conservative estimates for this experiment and the reason most are valued at a $1 is because they could likely be found at a dollar store. The purpose of the experiment is to demonstrate that it is possible to get free stuff at trade shows that is actually free.