Editor’s Note: Swag is not only a big part of trade show culture. It’s a big part of trade show marketing. Guest blogger Betsy Burnett toured the CHA Summer 2010 show floor for Scrapbook Update, to find out who was doing what. Given the marketing budget cuts brought by the current economy, Betsy found a surprising amount. Here’s a look at who was doing what.
The crowd was gathered in the booth, waiting expectantly for the prize drawing to start, when the announcement of a company VP’s birthday starts the group singing. Then came the announcement of “The first person to kiss him on the cheek will get a prize.” A lady in the crowd took them at their word and ran to kiss the birthday boy on the cheek much to the amusement of the crowd (and embarrassment of the recipient.) The reward for her efforts? A new Cricut cartridge.
Oh, did I mention that the lady in the crowd was me?
Part of the fun of any trade show are the freebies, giveaways and promotional items you can collect along the way and the CHA show is no exception! Swag (as these items are nicknamed) flowed freely – in the hopes of not only luring potential customers into a company’s booth, but also providing some clever marketing as people walked the floor wearing items emblazoned with the company’s logo in hopes of winning free product! As I walked the trade show floor, it amazed me at not only the sheer volume of swag being freely given, but the cleverness of some of the marketing using these items.
First, there were the “celebrity appearances”. Some were celebrities promoting their own product line, such as Tim Holtz spending one hour each morning of the show autographing and giving away packages of his Sizzix texture plates. Then there were celebrities like designer Suede (from Project Runway Season 5), who was challenged by Craftwell to use the Ecraft machine to create a dress – and ended up having three on display in their booth.
If a company doesn’t have celebrities to draw attendees in, there are always the “wear the______ (tshirt, button, whatever) and be entered to win” type promotions. The funniest one this year was Provo Craft’s “bug eye” glasses. If you were caught wearing them on the show floor, you received an extra ticket for the drawing to win Cricut prizes. Getting in on this fun was also “Craft’n'doodle”. If they caught you wearing their button, their “craft cop” gave you a prize and a “summons” to appear at their booth later for a chance to win the “whole kit and Ca-doodle” (their entire collection.)
There was also swag you had to work for. The “Product Parade” program presented by Scrapbook Business magazine gave participants a “scavenger hunt card.” As you went around the show floor, you had your card initialed by the staff of the participating booths. When you were finished with your booth visit, you rated the booth on things such their product line, pricing, staff knowledge and friendliness. Turning in a completed card got you a sampling of products from the participating vendors while helping provide feedback on booth presentation for the participating vendors.
Some vendors used product samples to draw attendees in. In some cases it was simply giving people a sample. Swatch books and sample pieces were quite common. Other companies found creative ways to hand out their product. Die cut company “Dies Direct” gave people lizard shaped embossing plates (in two sizes) that they showed you how to bend to make stand up. (I admit two pairs of them wound up in my bag to give to my boys!)
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a craft convention without make-and-takes to lure people into booths. Everything from cards, to jewelry, to frames and chickens could be made on the show floor. (Yes, I said chickens.) There is nothing like free product, table space and the encouragement to create to lure crafters into a booth. Make-and-takes allowed designers and sales staff a chance to talk to customers in a relaxed environment while showing exactly what their new product could do. This did come at a price, though, to those walking the show floor. Sometimes the wait for the make-and-takes was over one hour, meaning there was less time to walk the show floor – and not everyone was “pleasant” about waiting. I know of more than one ugly argument that resulted from impatient line-cutting crafters at make-and-takes.
Then, of course, what convention would be complete without a collection of promotional items? There were pens, buttons, pins, tape measures…anything and everything that can have a company’s logo put on it. Some were out of the ordinary, such as little shaped soaps from “Robin’s Nest.” What did soap have to do with scrapbooking? “Nothing,” I was told. It was simply wonderful soap (and made by brother of the Robin’s Nest’s owner.) Other items were quite helpful. I loved the “slap bracelets” from Craftwell. Not only did these bring back fun memories of my Junior High days, but they proved useful, as well, because they had a 12 inch ruler on them. They’ll be great for “slapping” around the handle of a crop bag for when I need a ruler in a pinch.
Collecting swag is a fun part of any trade show. Not only does it give the sales staff an opening for talking to you, but it can give you a chance to try a product you might not necessarily consider otherwise.
Didn’t have a chance to get to CHA Summer 2010? Would you like to win one of three “Swag bags” collected specifically for this article? Leave a comment here saying which one you would like to win and it could possibly be your lucky day! (Due to sweepstakes regulations you might not win the bag you selected…but all of them are fun!)
Bag #1: Suede meets Tim–Tim Holtz autographed embossing folders, two pairs of scissors from Westcott, Suede’s autograph and a variety of other fun items.
Bag #2: Product Parade–Circle cutter from Craft-n-Doodle, various adhesive, samples of Black Magic cardstock, a die from “Dies Direct”, and more.
Bag #3: Live Out Loud–Canvas kit and set of inks from Quick Quotes, photo organizer from Advantus, a variety of stickers, and stamps from Glitz plus a collection of other fun items!
How to Enter: All you have to do to be one of the lucky winners is leave a comment on this entry before Midnight U.S. eastern time on Sunday night, August 8th. Make sure you include your email address in the line reserved for it on the comment form (for your own protection, don’t put it in the text of the comment, where it will be visible to the public – just in the line labeled “email” in the form where only Scrapbook Update staff can see it). We will need it to notify you if you are a winner. Winners will be drawn by random drawing from all eligible entries. One entry per person. Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.
Thanks to the following companies for providing promotional items for the bags:
Advantus Corp, Blumenthal Lansing, Craftwell, Craft-n-Doodle, Crafty Secrets, Creative Options, Dies, Direct, Ellison, Glitz Designs, Jessica Sprague, Laserline, ProMag, Provo Craft, Quick Quotes, Scrapbook Business, Scotch, Spellbinders, Westcott, 1,2,3 Preschool Projects.
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