The Best Trade Show Giveaways and Swag Strategies for 2023


2023 still has 4 months left to go, and with those, there are many trade show giveaways to distribute and trade show events to attend all over the world.

To help you maximize them, we've put together an array of exciting and innovative trade show strategies and promotional swag ideas to make sure your trade show game is on point.

Not sure what swag is? You can read our article that covers the business of SWAG in detail.

By finding the perfect trade show giveaway that aligns with your brand and target audience and by leveraging the best strategies to drive new prospects to your booth, you will keep your brand top of mind and sales coming in long after the show is over.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the very best trade show swag and promotional products for 2023, as well as effective strategies for maximizing their impact on your brand exposure and prospects.

Let's jump in.

Table of Contents

Top Trending Trade Show Giveaways

A trade show booth with promotional items and trade show giveaways
Trade Show Giveaways Help Maximize ROI

The best trade show giveaways are those that not only look great but also serve a purpose and resonate with your target audience.

This year, three major categories are dominating the popular trade show giveaways scene: trendy tech gadgets, sustainable options, and wearable swag.

These are all excellent trade show giveaway and conference swag ideas, so let's look at them in more detail:

1. Trendy Tech Gadgets

Tech gadgets are always a crowd-pleaser, and this year is no exception. Some popular trade show giveaways include:

  • Wireless chargers
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Earbuds
  • Waterproof speakers
  • Qi power banks
  • Luggage tags
  • Webcam covers
  • Bluetooth Key Finders
  • Customizable Tustin earbuds

These branded product gadgets offer a perfect mix of style, functionality, and brand appeal.

Offering trendy tech gadgets appealing to tech-savvy conference attendees increases the likelihood of drawing their attention and, in turn, enhances your brand recognition.

So, when choosing your tech promo product gifts, consider items that are both unique and useful (everyone loves a power bank).

2. Eco-Friendly or Sustainable Options

This one is close to our hearts and brand values here at Sockrates.

As environmental awareness continues to grow, sustainable promotional giveaways are becoming increasingly popular at trade shows and conferences.

These free wonderful products may seem like simple things at first, but they showcase your brand’s commitment to sustainability while offering practical and long-lasting value to visitors and stakeholders.

Some popular eco-friendly giveaway ideas include reusable water bottles, tote bags, and products made from sustainable materials like organic cotton or recycled plastics.

Choosing eco-friendly products really underscores your brand’s commitment to the environment, and also provides easy access to practical and appealing items for your prospects and visitors.

What's best, is that these trade show promotional gifts help improve traffic while helping the environment!

3. Wearable Swag

Wearable trade show giveaway swag, such as t-shirts, custom socks, and accessories, is another popular category that is gaining traction for free trade show giveaways.

Offering these items can help boost your brand’s visibility, as prospects will likely wear or use them not just during the event, but also in their daily lives, providing free ongoing exposure for your brand.

When selecting wearable swag for your trade show, consider the design and quality of the items, ensuring they reflect your brand’s values and appeal to your target audience.

Providing high-quality, wearable swag can leave a positive impression on your recipients, enhancing the chances that they will continue wearing and using the items well beyond the event.

So opt for wearable giveaway ideas like custom organic cotton custom grip socks or eco lux wool cabin socks that your visitors will want to wear day in and day out!

Cheap Trade Show Giveaway Ideas

A trade show booth with creative and budget-friendly trade show giveaways
Water Bottles are Great Inexpensive Giveaways for Trade Shows

While offering the latest and greatest trade show giveaway is certainly appealing, it’s essential to also consider budget constraints.

Fortunately, there are plenty of creative and cheap giveaway ideas that can still make lasting impressions on event attendees without breaking the bank.

So lets explore three categories of cheap swag ideas as great alternative and affordable giveaways: customizable stationery, engaging items, and health and wellness products.

1. Customizable Stationery

Customizable stationery items, such as notebooks, pens, and desk calendars, are an affordable and practical trade show giveaway option that doesn't break the bank.

These giveaway ideas can be personalized with your brand’s logo or message, ensuring that they not only serve a useful purpose for your visitors but also drive brand recognition in a fun way.

Some customizable stationery gift options include:

  • Pens
  • Notepads
  • Mugs
  • Office desk items

2. Fun and Interactive Items

Fun and interactive giveaway items, such as stress balls, are another budget-friendly giveaway option that can help engage prospects and create a memorable experience at your tradeshow.

Incorporating enjoyable and interactive items into your trade show giveaways shows that you are thinking beyond just a marketing campaign and giving away free items that they enjoy (who doesn't like stress balls?), or even better, their kids can enjoy at home.

Some popular interactive product giveaway ideas include:

  • Games
  • Stress balls
  • Yoga mats
  • Carry Bags

3. Health and Wellness Products

Health and wellness products are another category of budget-friendly trade show giveaways that can promote a positive brand image and cater to the well-being of recipients.

Items like lip balm, hand sanitizer, and fitness accessories make amazing gifts that offer practical value and demonstrate your brand’s commitment to health and well-being. Win-win!

Some popular health and wellness product giveaway ideas include:

  • Water bottles
  • Fitness trackers
  • First aid kits
  • Lip balm

Trade Show Strategies to Maximize Booth Traffic

A trade show booth with eye-catching display and engaging activities
Sockrates Trade Show Booth at Halo Conference 2023

As you probably know, simply offering fun trade show giveaways isn’t enough to ensure success.

To truly maximize the impact of your tradeshow marketing campaign, it’s essential to implement effective trade show strategies that attract event attendees and encourage them to engage with your brand to explore your offerings.

We’ll now address three tradeshow booth strategies to improve traffic and optimize the impact of your giveaways: timing of your giveaways, pairing them with promotions, raffles and draws, and captivating stand displays.

Let’s say you’re giving away beautifully designed custom wool socks from Sockrates, as an example.

1. Timing Your Giveaways

Custom Wool Socks used as trade show giveaways
Custom Wool Socks

The timing of when you offer your custom socks as giveaways can make all the difference in capturing prospects attention and creating a sense of excitement.

Consider distributing your trade show swag towards the middle or end of the tradeshow when attendees have had a chance to explore and may be looking for something unique to take home.

This strategic timing ensures that your business stands out amidst the sea of competitors and leaves a lasting impression on visitors, ultimately driving you more traffic and sales.

2. Pairing Giveaways with Promotions

Pairing trade show swag with promotions or limited-time offers can add a powerful extra layer of allure to your brand on the trade show floor.

For example, you can offer a discount on your products or services for attendees who visit you and receive a pair of custom wool socks for them to use during the winter.

This approach incentivizes potential customers to engage with your brand and leaves them with a valuable and personalized keepsake.

They will tell their friends and colleagues, which will likely drive more precious traffic to your booth during the coming days.

3. Engaging Raffles and Draws

One effective way to use freebies as a hook to engage with customers, and to improve your event marketing, is by hosting raffles or draws.

For instance, you can create a “Take a Picture with Your Custom Socks” booth activity.

Attendees who receive your custom socks can be encouraged to take fun and creative pictures with them and post them on social media with event-specific hashtags and your brand’s handle. #tradeshowsuccess

As an incentive, they can enter a raffle for a chance to win a premium gift or an exclusive product.

This interactive activity not only generates buzz and excitement but also extends your brand’s reach on social media, creating user-generated content that can attract even more traffic to your booth.

4. Eye-Catching Display

An eye-catching display is a visually appealing display that highlights your brand’s unique offerings.

You can draw in potential customers and encourage them to explore your giveaways and connect with your team members.

Some tips for creating an eye-catching display include:

  • Using pop-up displays
  • Banner stand
  • Interactive displays
  • LED light displays
  • Customized backdrops
  • Branded flooring
  • Balloons (if allowed)

Maximizing Trade Show Giveaways for Brand Exposure

An image showcasing dozens of customized dress socks used as trade show giveaways with company logos for maximum brand exposure.
Get Your Brand Noticed With Custom Dress Socks

Driving prospects to your booth is critical. But why not also maximize your brand exposure while you're at it?

Customizing your trade show giveaways is an essential component when it comes to maximizing their impact on brand exposure.

This section will examine three crucial areas for customizing your promotional gifts: product selection, logo placement and design optimization, and maintaining consistent branding across all items.

1. Choosing the Right Product

Selecting the right product for your target audience and event is crucial for ensuring that your gifts leave a strong impression.

Factors to consider when choosing the right product include its usefulness, relevance to your business, and the quality of the item.

For example, if your brand specializes in outdoor products, offering a high-quality waterproof gear bag or reusable water bottle would be a fitting and useful giveaway for trade show visitors.

And you know what promotional giveaways align nicely with practically every industry? Custom dress socks. 😎

2. Logo Placement and Design

Optimizing logo placement and design on your promotional products is essential for maximizing brand visibility and creating a cohesive look across all your giveaway gifts.

Some tips for effective logo placement include selecting items that are easy to spot and frequently used, such as tote bags, t-shirts, and custom socks.

When designing your logo, consider the following tips:

  • Keep it simple, clear, and recognizable
  • Use all your brand colors
  • Choose a neat font
  • Use your logo in full color
  • Use Pantone color matching

Here at Sockrates we use Pantone color matching to accurately represent your full color palette and maintain consistent branding across all our customized socks to create a unified brand experience for visitors and optimize the impact of your gifts.

Having accurate color matching helps with brand exposure and recognition, ultimately helping to maximize brand awareness and sales!

3. Consistent Branding

Maintaining consistent branding across all promotional giveaways is crucial for creating a unified brand experience for trade show visitors (and in marketing overall).

Consistent branding includes using the same full color palette, fonts, and messaging on all promotional materials to reinforce your brand’s identity and create a cohesive look.

This is something our team of socktologists are experts at.

To achieve consistent branding, consider the following for your trade show gifts:

  • Using a color palette that is associated with your brand
  • Adding your business contact information to generate leads
  • Ensuring that your messaging aligns with your brand’s values and target audience’s interests and needs
  • Adding your tagline or slogan

Our 5 Favorite Trade Show Giveaways

Okay, so by now we've shared a lot of ideas and recommendations for your free giveaway products.

Whether you need conference swag ideas or general marketing gift suggestions, we've covered it all.

But these 5 promo product giveaways are the ones we personally like the most, so we thought we'd shine a spotlight on each before wrapping up.

1. Custom Socks

A picture of Custom Dress Socks for EMA Trade shows
Custom Dress Socks for EMA

Take it from us, custom socks are the reigning champions of the tradeshow giveaway arena and offer an unparalleled blend of style, comfort, and brand promotion that sets them apart as the ultimate promotional item for exhibitors in any industry.

There's a reason why companies like Netflix, Pepsi, Google, Coca-Cola, Disney, Microsoft and many others have worked with us.

They’re versatile and fashionable accessories that anyone would enjoy.

Attendees often appreciate receiving useful and practical items, and custom socks fit the bill perfectly (especially because everyone needs to wear socks daily!)

One of the greatest advantages of custom socks for your tradeshow visitors is the freedom they offer in design and creativity.

Whether you opt for funky patterns that catch the eye or sophisticated designs that exude elegance, custom socks can be a canvas for your brand’s identity and message.

By incorporating your logo, brand colors, and innovative graphics, you can create personalized socks that truly reflect your business’s personality and values.

Just visit our custom sock gallery to browse the thousands of custom sock designs we’ve made for many happy customers!

Imagine you’re a startup company attending the popular CES expo, aiming to stand out amidst the crowd of competitors.

Offering custom dress socks with tech-themed graphics and your logo can be a game-changing move that caters to the nerdy technology enthusiast or the entrepreneurs who are proud of their products or services!

With expert designs from our talented team of socktologists (sock designers), your personalized socks at trade shows can become great conversation starters, giving your booth staff an opportunity to engage and introduce your products or services.

Besides, they’re more than just giveaway swag, they’re walking advertisements that make a powerful statement about your brand’s dedication to creativity, quality, and customer satisfaction.

With every pair of custom socks, you extend your brand’s reach, leaving an indelible mark on your target audience.

So when it comes to the best trade show giveaways for your booth and marketing campaign efforts, custom branded socks are easily our favorite trade show swag.

2. Personalized Tote Bag

A custom tote bag used as a trade show giveaway
Tote Bags

Tote bags are a timeless and versatile tradeshow giveaway that never goes out of style.

A tote bag is always practical because people can carry their belongings and other freebies from attending the tradeshow – like their custom socks! 🙂

You can promote your business further by including flyers, business cards or pamphlets inside of each bag or gift water bottles or treats inside the totes for your lucky visitors to snack on during the trade show.

With all the conference materials and freebies, this one is a sure giveaway folks will appreciate.

3. Phone Accessories

A Variety of Customizable Phone Cases used as trade show giveaways
Smart Phone Cases

Just like everyone’s got a pair of feet for custom socks, it’s pretty much a guarantee that every attendee has a smartphone.

Why not gift a personalized phone accessory?

Lean into the digital age by offering functional and trendy items such as branded phone stands, adhesive phone card holders, customized pop sockets or phone cases.

At a technology tradeshow, imagine visitors receiving custom pop sockets or adhesive phone card holders.

It’s an easy accessory to immediately add to your phone and instantly enhance your brand’s visibility.

While these are great trade show giveaways, they may not be as affordable as customized socks – but still a great alternative!

4. Reusable Water Bottles

An Assorted Selection of reusable Water Bottles used as trade show giveaways
Reusable Water Bottles

As we discussed earlier in this article, the world is growing more eco-conscious, including us with our eco-friendly organic dress socks and eco-friendly custom wool socks.

Clearly, environmentally friendly swag products are gaining immense popularity, so why not consider sustainable options since they make some of the best trade show giveaways?

Reusable water bottles are a practical and sustainable choice that aligns with the values of many people.

At a sustainability-focused expo, imagine distributing custom water bottles made from recycled materials.

Just like the tote bags, this is a gift that they can appreciate right away to stay hydrated during a long day at the show.

5. Custom Notebooks, Planners or Journals

A Customized Monthly Planner used as a trade show giveaway
Monthly Planners

Help trade show attendees channel their creativity and showcase your brand with custom-designed notebooks or journals.

Plus, they will bring these along to the office and other places in town.

At a business and entrepreneurship conference, offer personalized notebooks featuring motivational quotes and your company logo.

Pairing these with company stickers is one of many popular conference swag ideas that add a touch of fun to your promotional giveaways.

Attendees will appreciate the giveaway as they jot down ideas and thoughts, associating your brand with creativity and productivity.

Every time they reach for the notebook, your brand will be at the forefront of their minds, creating a powerful and positive brand association.

With a strategic mix of creativity and functionality, these trade show giveaways will leave a great impression, drive more traffic and set your brand apart from the competition.


In conclusion, finding the perfect trade show giveaways and implementing effective booth strategies to improve traffic are essential for maximizing your brand exposure and maximizing your trade show ROI.

Whether you choose trendy tech gadgets like power banks, eco-friendly options like tote bags, or wearable gifts like custom socks, ensure that your promotional items align with your brand’s values and cater to the interests and needs of your target audience.

By customizing your promotional items and maintaining consistent branding, you can create a memorable experience for attendees that not only showcases your brand but also leaves a lasting impression long after the event is over.

If custom socks is something you want to explore for your brand or business' next trade show, get in touch with our team!

Bonus Content – Trade Show Marketing Tips from Protocol 80.

Tips for Before, During, and After the Show!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good giveaway for a trade show?

A great trade show giveaway would be items like branded umbrellas, waterproof gear bags, Bluetooth key finders, customized socks, compact wireless chargers, tie dye push pop balls, EOS lip balm, LeemanTM luggage tags, and dual-sided microfiber cloths - all of which are useful, memorable, and deliver a high ROI for your brand. These items are the perfect gift for trade shows.

They are also cost-effective, making them a great and affordable way to get your brand out there. Plus, they are sure to be appreciated by your customers and potential customers.

Should you have giveaways at trade shows?

Having swag freebies at trade shows is a great idea – they don't have to be anything big or fancy but should be something usable and branded to make an impression.

It doesn't have to be expensive either – something like a branded pen or a keychain can be enough to make an impression. However, if you spend just a little more, custom socks truly leave a lasting impression that is hard to forget.

What do you call tradeshow giveaways?

Trade show giveaways go by many names, including tchotchkes, promotional items and swag, but they all refer to the same thing - small gifts given away at trade shows to attract attention.

These items are usually inexpensive and can range from pens, tote bag and coffee mugs to t-shirts and USB drives.

They are designed to draw attention to a brand and create a positive impression of the company. Trade show giveaways are an effective way to increase brand awareness and create a lasting impression.

What are the hottest trade show giveaways for 2023?

Tech gadgets, sustainable items, and wearable swag are the hottest trends for 2023 trade show giveaways.

These items are sure to draw attention and create a buzz at any event. They are also a great way to show appreciation to customers and employees.

How can I choose the right product for my trade show giveaways?

When choosing trade show giveaways, consider factors like usefulness, relevance to your business and brand, and the quality of the item for the best result.

Usefulness is important because it will determine how often the item is used and how long it will last.

Relevance to your business or brand is important because it will help to reinforce your brand and message.

Quality is important because it represents your business reputation - plus it's a reflection of your quality standards. Another great reason to use high quality custom socks!

To stay updated on all the latest sock styles and trade show giveaway tips, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn.

Article Written By
Samuel Moses

We offer custom socks of all types and sizes (baby to adult) and lengths (no-show, ankle, crew, knee-high, and over the knee). We pride ourselves on being authentic Italian custom sock manufacturers with the highest level of quality and service for our customers. Try us out today!

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