I just spent an hour on the phone with several promo (t-shirts, pens, mugs, tote bags, etc.) companies sourcing tote bags for a few upcoming trade shows. Why spend money on tote bags, t-shirts, coffee mugs, pens and other brand bling? Do you think it might draw more prospects and customers to your booth? Maybe. Back in the day, a few smart exhibitors gave away logo wrapped three foot sticks of bubblegum. Everybody stopped by that booth.

So that’s the point of buying promos and giving them away – to get people to stop at your booth – right?

Well, sorta. Remember the three foot bubblegum? Everybody at the show stopped at the booth giving out the ‘yardstick’ of gum. I did … twice. Ask me the name of the company giving out the gum. Ask me what the company does for a living. I haven’t a clue. I was there for the gum; so, I’m guessing, was everyone else.

Here’s how I get trade show bling bling to work for me: hats, t-shirts, tote bags. We’re not just giving away free stuff, we’re giving away billboards. Every Joe or Josephine who puts on or picks up a product with my brand, they’re advertising for me. If I’m targeting the show audience specifically with my brand, I go for the tote – make it a decent enough tote that the attendee will actually want to carry it around the show, not a cheap plastic poly-bag with your name stenciled on it. If your tote is nice enough, others will ask your ad mule where they got the tote and head off in your direction for one of their own. I can’t imagine better trade show advertising than a thousand mini-billboards walking up and down the aisles throughout the show.

There a lots of place to get your own custom branded bling, just fire up the ole Google engine. One good spot is www.gopromos.com. Tell’em Steve sent you – they don’t know me, but it’ll get them wondering.

Have a good show.