In the early 2000s I was working as a Regional Account Manager of a consulting firm based in the Dallas area. I traveled often, appearing at large trade shows across the country targeting petroleum distributors.
My company had an upcoming big trade show in Las Vegas. I needed some inexpensive treats to give to the people who stopped by our booth.
I asked our very creative office manager to find some giveaways. I’m not sure where, but she discovered delicious taffy candies that also happened to have the coloring of a cow. This was a clever and cost-effective find. and fit in perfectly with the fact that our company was based in Texas.
At the show, I arranged our marketing collateral on the table with the taffy casually strewn about. They were so cute and unusual that people would stop by just to see what they were.
The Mistake: Do you know what happens when you eat taffy? You can’t talk! I would be chatting, prospects would pop a piece of candy in their mouths, and they were completely unable to speak for a couple of minutes. (I still wonder if anyone needed dental work after that show.)
Why This Worked: I soon realized that I had a captive audience! I was able to give the spiel about our services without interruption - or objection. This is what I call an HMA - a “Happy Marketing Accident.”
Moral of this Story: You do not, I repeat, you do not have to spend a lot of money on expensive branded giveaways. Sometimes the cheapest items can produce a great result and make your company stand out from the crowd. Just be sure to choose something that fits into the theme of your company, show, and target audience.