7 Ideas for Sustainable Trade Show Swag

Thursday, August 1, 2019

By Quinn Coleman

Trade show presence

What’s worse than your swag being abandoned on a booth counter is your swag being thrown in the garbage on its way off the trade show floor. Not only is this a waste of your planning efforts and marketing dollars… but it’s really bad for the environment. Think about all of those wasted foam squishy balls, plastic pens, paper pamphlets, and post-it note pads waiting to be shipped off to a landfill. If we’re going to work on reducing, reusing, and recycling in every other facet of life and business operations, we should also work on reducing waste at trade shows.

There are hundreds of thousands of trade shows every year and even more businesses that attend and purchase giveaway swag and paper pamphlets. In order to reduce your company’s carbon footprint at conferences and trade shows, you can start by purchasing swag items that people will actually use and/or are eco-friendly. When you see that none of your swag has ended up in the trash cans, you can exit the trade show with a clear conscience.

Below are seven suggestions for sustainable, eco-friendly swag so you can win over clients AND help save the planet, one less squishy ball at a time.

If you’ve been to a wedding, birthday party, or any sort of celebration within the past few years, you know that photo booths are trending. Everyone is grabbing their friends in the middle of a party, or in this case a trade show, to get in line for the camera, slap on a fake mustache and say “Cheese!” Skip the printed version of the photo and reduce paper waste by allowing photo-takers to send photos to themselves digitally. That way, you can capture their lead info and attach the photos to an email with information about your company, and any contact info. And don’t forget to print your logo on the photo—if shared on any form of social media, you’ll be getting extra exposure.

2. Reusable Lunch Containers—Reduce Food Waste and Help the Earth

For example, a Bently Bento Lunch Container is an eco-friendly giveaway and will DEFINITELY attract an audience off of the trade show floor. The metal lunch box, which can be used to heat food when adding hot water, decreases single-use plastic on lunch breaks. Rather than ordering in every day, potential clients can use the lunch containers to save money, bring food from home, and reduce their waste. Plus, you can customize the box with your logo.

3. Metal Straws—Because Plastic Straws are so 2017

So, you care about the turtles AND you have a great product? If you want to show conference and trade show attendees you’re a true #environmentalist, metal straws with your logo are a great giveaway idea. This will encourage attendees during and post-show to practice sustainability in the workplace, ditch the plastic straws, and go to work prepared to save the planet.

4. Create a Signature Drink at the Hotel Bar, One that Attendees Can Get for Free

After a long day of walking around a trade show floor give your potential clients something to really take the edge off—a pen. Jokes aside, skip the trade show swag all together and opt for a freebie attendees are sure to take you up on—a free drink. Organize this with the hotel bar and see if you can create a signature drink titled after your company. Because this is a more pricey freebie, keep drink tickets to yourself and give them to prospects after you converse with them. It will show potential customers right off the bat that you have great client perks.

5. Massage the Worries Away

It’s a long day of standing, talking and getting the right contacts. But your company isn’t like regular companies—your company cares about the well-being of your potential clients. If your booth has enough space, consider offering free, 10-minute massages on the trade show floor!

Companies like National Chair Massage specialize in corporate events and trade shows, with a network of massage therapists prepared with chairs and supplies to set up at your exhibit. This is sure to bring a long line to your booth, and while attendees are waiting, you can give them your sales pitch and gather any lead information for easier follow-up.

And don’t worry about breaking the bank—a massage chair can be booked for a price comparable to the price of a bulk order of pens or drinkware: $50-80/hour, or $800-1280 for 16 hours.

6. Give a ‘Thnks a Latte’

SummitSync has partnered with the great people at Thnks for many different things—such as a “welcome” lunch for an entire team of new clients, a “feel better” cup of soup when our business partners are sick, etc. Thnks is a B2B gifting platform that brings ease to the process of treating and following up with clients, in order to show them you care. This is something that is sure to draw attendees to your booth, and a gesture they won’t forget. You can work with Thnks to create a card with a scannable QR code to redeem their free coffee—a ‘Thnks a Latte’—for stopping by your booth.

7. Gift an Experience

A trade show is a unique experience in which many potential business partners are all in-person, in one place. Holding free events for potential clients, such as a yoga session or a networking breakfast, not only offers them the opportunity to take a break from a stressful few days, but it also presents you with the opportunity to connect with clients outside of the trade show setting. In this way, you can increase genuine interactions and work on winning over clients with your display of customer care.

An Environmentally-Conscious Freebie Will Help You Stand Out at Your Next Conference or Trade Show

Freebies certainly don’t make or break a deal. However, in separating from the typical pens or drink koozies given away by most other booths, the creativity and care you put into the quality of your giveaways will attract the right clients. Before attendees even enter your booth, they will be able to recognize your company’s values and appreciate your company for it.

Free Ebook: Drive More Revenue at Conferences and Trade Shows

Learn how to book more and better meetings with the right prospects, so you can close more sales at the show and maximize your event ROI.