To give away or not to give away? That is the question. Everyone likes a freebie at an event or tradeshow, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing to do. Yes, there are merits to handing things out, however, you must ensure that it makes sense for your business and that it’s something that will actually add value to your operation.

Budget will also play an important role in deciding whether or not to hand out take away gifts at your stall. Before you spend half of your event money on humorous gimmicks, think to yourself “will this be better spent elsewhere?”

With that said, free gifts can be a good way to remind people about your idea or business. Here are some of your options and a few things to think about before splurging on the giveaways.

Make it something useful

Stationary is the old classic that never fails to get snapped up at an event. When walking from stall to stall, it’s common for delegates to jot down little notes to themselves about useful things they’ve seen. What better publicity than for your name to appear on the pen (and better yet on the paper as well) as they scribble down something important.

While this is a tried and tested idea, the only problem is it works a little too well and it’s very likely that more than one or two of your fellow exhibitors will have done the same. Still, as personalised pens and little note pads don’t generally cost the earth, you can still order a few without breaking the bank.

A little more upmarket, but possibly even more useful in today’s age is a USB stick. Brand them and hand them out; they are guaranteed to go quickly. If you can incorporate a novel design into it then go for it!

Think about your audience

There are two ways you can go with this. The first is to pick things that cater specifically to your audience; for example, if you are showcasing at a trade show for engineers, you could pick something that a person in this profession might find useful or enjoy that relates directly to them.

The alternative is to go with the general population and pick something that the majority of people will find useful.

In the last couple of years, re-usable tote bags have become a popular give-away at trade shows do to their practicality; not only can they be used after the event, but a delegate can use them to store their other freebies during the day as well.

Other little useful novelties include touch screen wipes, tablet stylus pens and reusable gym water bottles.

Don’t let the gifts do all the talking

Free items are an excellent way to attract attention to your stall, but don’t expect someone to take a branded gift away and engage with you in the long run. Once you see someone interested in your stuff, strike up a conversation with them to find out more; after all, these things are all about networking.

Take the opportunity to explain who you are and what you do.  A good way to keep in touch with people after an event is to have a mailing list handy and get them to sign up, that way you can reconnect down the line and take the business relationship further.

Beware of booze

As a final thought about giveaways, it’s wise to tread carefully when offering free alcohol. Where as most people will drink responsibly and not take liberties, there's always the risk that someone could. As it’s you who is handing out the drinks, ultimately, you could be responsible if anyone takes it too far.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer out a glass of wine as a freebie, just ensure you do it in moderation.