If I had a £1 coin for every time a tradeshow stand gave me the chance to win an iPad simply by handing over a business card, I would be able to afford an iPad.

Clearly iPads are the give-away of choice, but has it become too predictable a prize? I can only imagine that if I were to wind the clock back, the fax machine was the prize du jour in the 90s. I understand from a colleague who was on our Alterian stand at DMA in Boston last week that one company was giving away a Smart Car!

Generic Prizes: Bad for Your Data

A tradeshow stand should lure prospects. Your visuals should tempt; the wording, provoke. And your giveaways should take up the part of the brain that is activated by “intrigue” or “value” and should not fill up the tradeshow tote bag with more tat.

A tradeshow stand is expensive, to some extent, as it should be. This is a pop-up shop window for you in a room with a high concentration of potential buyers. Sort out your wheat from your chaff and secure business by maintaining a good data set. Everyone that comes onto your stand for an iPad or a pin badge is data. See the numbers, not the people, if you must be so clinical. So why dilute your data set by offering a generic prize that holds little relevance to what it is you sell?

Generate Interest Using Social Media

Why not get creative and use social media to generate interest in your stand? You want to get noticed (by the right people), then why not follow the stream of those at the event and strike up a conversation with them on Twitter and arrange a meeting on the stand?

Why not use social media to generate content around your stand? Enter a prize draw if attendees take a photo of your stand and tweet it with the event hashtag. Get into the event Twitter stream and raise awareness. Creativity and social media go hand in hand, especially at events. Beyond that, if people are talking about you or you are talking to them, capture their details and see what develops from your conversations.

Tradeshows should be about opportunities. Chances to hold conversations on your topic of choice can be hard to come by, so don’t blur the purpose of your tradeshow presence with an iPad honey trap when you really want to talk about what you can do to help potential clients.

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