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Improve Trade Show Traffic With Promotional Products

Published by: Promotional Products Association International

Group Descriptions & ResultsPromotional products can increase traffic to an exhibitor’s trade show booth. A 1991 study by Exhibit Surveys Inc., found that using promotional products can give you an advantage over other exhibitors for buyer attention.

To promote traffic at its booth, an exhibitor sent invitations to 4,900 trade show registrants. These registrants were further broken down into smaller groups, each of which received from zero to three gifts (before, at, and/or after the show). See the table for group descriptions.

To learn what gift combinations had the best results, researchers measured booth traffic, post-show memory of having received the invitation, and registrant goodwill toward the company after the show. Results are presented in the table and described below.


  • Invitation response (booth traffic) was significantly higher for Groups A, B, and C (who all received an invitation to receive a gift at the show) than for Groups D and E (who did not).
  • The response rate was highest for Group B (11.6%), whose members received a gift set (a coaster before the show and a matching coffee mug at the show). This is 61% higher than the runner up (Group C) and almost three times higher than Groups D and E.
  • The gift set also increased the memorability of the invitation. Group B remembered receiving the invitation 37% to 304% more than the other groups. Groups A and C also remembered receiving the invitation significantly more often than Groups D and E.
  • Group B also showed the most goodwill (positive feelings) toward the company.

These findings demonstrate the effectiveness and flexibility of using promotional products to increase customer awareness, goodwill, and traffic at trade show exhibits.

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Real World Success Story

To draw trade show traffic and leads.

Hands, gloves and sports champions were creatively incorporated into the surgical glove manufacturer’s plan to draw traffic to its booth at the Association of Operating Room Nurses convention. Surgical gloves, posed as performers for various track and field events, were pictured on Big League baseball cards that were mailed to 5,000 nurses who were expected to attend the convention. Copy proclaimed, “A glove for every event.” On the back of each card was a short quiz about the featured glove. The nurses brought the cards with their quiz answers to the booth and claimed a prize.

At the booth, barcodes on the redeemed cards were put through a scanner that played a taped sportscaster announcing the sprinting, hurdling, pole vaulting or other events appearing on the card and declaring the card holder a winner. First-place winners received an “Olympic” medallion - actually, a rubber key fob with the promotion’s clapping-hands logo. Daily grand prize winners chose valuable merchandise awards from a gift catalog.

“Convention attendees were lined up 30-40 deep to participate,” reported the clinical & scientific affairs manager, and “customer leads increased 30%.”

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