Tips for Effective Trade Show Handouts

July 12, 2015

Todd Millett

Todd Millett is a web marketer and content developer at He graduated from University of Louisville in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Communications. 

Giving away handouts at trade shows is by no means a new concept. However, it is common to overlook the importance of giveaways and to undermine their potential for increasing customer retention. There should be a strategy behind your trade show literature handouts, yet all too often companies think as long as they have something to distribute, they are in the clear. If the process is well thought out in advance, the overall effectiveness of your efforts can be increased tremendously. So, where do you start? Here are five considerations to make sure you do it the right way!

What does your company do?

What message is it that you want to convey? Think about what products or services you provide and how you can use your handout to highlight the benefits for your customers. What makes your company unique? What makes you reliable? These are important things to address.

What purpose does it serve for your visitors?

You need to think about your customers. What are they like? What questions do they often ask? Most importantly, what needs do they have that your business fulfills? When learning about your potential customers’ needs and concerns, you are also learning how to communicate with them more effectively. Don’t only think about what you want to tell them, but also what they want to know.

What type of handout would be appropriate for your company?

Business cards are a great idea for just about any company, and should be kept nearby. However, you will need something with more than just your contact information. Single sheet handouts, brochures, or even small catalogues are all options. The most economical and easiest to produce in-house option is to use single sheet handouts. These can be effective because they provide enough information but not an overwhelming amount. You want to convey your message with minimal effort on the reader’s part. Brochures are a bit more professional looking, but can also be more costly. They are great if there are several different topics related to your business that you need to touch upon. Catalogues are excellent for any company that sells hard goods for purchase, which can be easily illustrated in print form. Printing costs here can get more expensive. To save on cost, a digital catalogue can also be created online. Then, you can create a small handout with a QR code and web address so your visitors can find it later.

How will you present your literature?

Duh! Place it on your table, right? No! This is a very common mistake. It’s not that it doesn’t work, but changing your presentation can make the same amount of effort much more rewarding. If you have a table, use it to present demonstration items or company information that people won’t be taking with them. The table is also a great spot for business cards, but other than that you really need to watch for clutter. Handouts tend to get scattered and disorderly as visitors finger their way through them. It is best to use portable literature racks. The literature pockets on these racks will assure to keep everything in its place and maintain an attractive appearance. Also, the line of sight is much better for people further away from your booth.

How will you be remembered?

There should be something about your giveaways that really hits home for your visitors. You want to make sure you aren’t lost in the mix of all the other “garbage” they’ve collected. Your handout on its own most likely will not accomplish this. This is why it is important to make sure your visitors’ experience at your booth is very memorable, and then have some type of familiar tie-in on your handout. When your booth is approached, this is your time to shine. Hit on a few key points that you have determined are important to your clients. Make sure to keep a positive attitude and make it a pleasurable experience so your visitors remember you. Then, hit on the same points in your handouts. You could even have a photo of your booth staff printed onto part of the handouts. If you can throw in an additional usable item, such as a branded flash-drive, this is also a great bonus because your visitors will continue to see your company logo after the show.

Now it’s time to stop printing out those handouts you created five years ago and rethink your strategy. Make sure to keep it attractive, address your customers’ concerns, and give your visitors a memorable experience. If you do this, you are well on your way to obtaining more leads after the show!

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