We all know what it’s like when you attend an exhibition, while trying to listen to all the fantastic things that are on offer from each of the businesses that are showcasing their wares, we can’t help but have one eye on the freebies that are up for grabs!

The interesting thing is that as a business this is a real sales opportunity, not only to retain brand engagement – after all, who doesn’t have a drawer full of items they never realised they needed – but also to remind the person what your company offers.

The truth is that a shocking number of businesses miss this trick and instead load a van with paraphernalia to dress the stand without giving enough time and attention to what they are going to hand out to their prospective clients.

There is no doubt that having a stand that looks visually appealing is the first step to attracting an audience and that professional marketing materials will give you a prop while you chat to your new contact but what happens then? You give them a branded pen or a lolly from a generic selection to enjoy.

When you measure the success of the event and in particular that part of the engagement, what value has your ‘free gift’ really added? Exactly.

Now, go back a month – or ideally two or three – and imagine what impact a branded item would have that, perhaps in some quirky way, is a prompt for your new contact and business prospect to remind them of what products and services you offer.

We’ve seen some fantastic merchandise at Buy Yorkshire and there is no doubt that our exhibitors are a creative bunch, but we want everyone to get as much value from the event as possible and that’s why we are encouraging you all to make the most of the opportunity.

When we challenge people about why they haven’t considered merchandise that will continue to do the hard work for them, the common retort is that they just aren’t creative or that they don’t have time.

We don’t think that excuse is good enough and this is a perfect opportunity to get your team together and make them feel like they are a part of something. Ask them what they would like to see, what they feel is reflective of the company and its values and how you continue the engagement beyond the event.

Give them the freedom to offer suggestions, however bizarre, and we bet you will be surprised at how excited they get from this simple task. Better still, once these ideas work you can go back and thank them for helping to support the business. It’s a win, win.

So, now it’s over to you. Get your pens and paper at the ready and get thinking. You haven’t got long but there is still time to order something that will give you a point of difference and that ensures a contact becomes a client rather than a person that forgets all about you in a fortnight.

Please do share you suggestions or examples in the comments on the blog to give other people a helping hand, after all ‘we are stronger together’.