Grab your Lanyard, Trade Shows are back!

Trade shows are back

A Greater Appreciation for Trade Shows

Trade shows are back after a year of cancellations. Exhibitors and attendees are ready for their return.

While organizations shifted to virtual meetings out of necessity, the experience was generally inferior compared to the live events. In many cases, even our personal relationships were forced into the virtual realm.

2020 shined the spotlight on the human need for face-to-face connections that were previously taken for granted. Trade Shows, Conferences and live Events are coming back to renew those in-person connections. Event planners and venues are adjusting their focus to attract the lanyard-wearing crowds.

The 2021 Trade Show Industry Projections

Experts in the $100+ billion US trade show and exhibition industry report that the in-person events are slowly coming back after the lost year. The uncertainty of 2020 rolled over into the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2021 leaving planners to look ahead to the 2nd half of the year for dates. Unfortunately, large Conferences and Trade Shows are booked years in advance so their window of opportunity has passed for 2021. Especially for the shows that are normally booked from January thru June.

Although 2022 will be a big comeback year for in-person events, some predict that a full recovery will not happen until 2023. For the rest of 2021, planners will have difficulty in forecasting attendance reluctant to crowd into expo halls with strangers.

Early social signals are positive for the industry as people crowd into restaurants and book Summer vacations with their families. Facebook is loaded with posts of families gathering after a year apart. Grocery stores are filled with unmasked shoppers happy to see smiles once again.

Industry Obstacles for Trade Shows to Come Back

While attendee concerns about safety and health are relaxing a bit, venues and planners are taking extra precautions to ease the concerns of some who may be on the fence. As a result, many venues have upgraded their ventilation systems to improve air cleanliness. Sanitation stations will be a mainstay in large expo halls. Even exhibitors will be a part of the solution as they hand out branded hand sanitizers at their booth.

There are still some obstacles for the rest of 2021 –

  • How quickly can trade shows get back on the venue calendar?
  • Are attendees ready to return?
  • After a year of virtual networking, do attendees feel a need to attend?
  • Do Exhibitors have budgets for in-person events for 2021?
  • Are attendees an international audience with travel restrictions?
  • Will organizations be willing to pay for in-person attendance when a less expensive virtual experience may be available?

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Even though less than 50% of our exhibiting customers we reached out to plan to attend in-person events this year, the good news is that 100% are already planning for 2022 events.

We made it through 2020 selling PPEs, Virtual Conference Kits and Commercial Printing to our customers deemed as essential businesses. Our excitement about the return of trade shows began when our first exhibiting customer, MedAmour, reached out to us to help them with their exhibit at the IECSC, International Esthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference in Las Vegas this month. MedAmour needed Tablecloths, Signage and Tote Bags for their booth. We were happy to oblige!

Since then, the orders have been increasing from our returning exhibitor customers. Our conference planning customers are reaching out to us as they budget for their large 2022 events as well.

As a supplier of Promotional Products to trade show exhibitors and meeting planners, we’re bullish about the future of in-person events. They’re slowly coming back and we expect a strong resurgence of trade shows and conferences in 2022.

We’re happy to get back to our core business that we love.

How to choose the right Custom Water Bottle

Serving up an effective business gift should be done with some thought. One of the most thoughtful and well received promotional gifts to give is a Custom Water Bottle. Here’s why…

  • They get reused – Environmentally Friendly
  • Daily use gets your brand noticed frequently
  • Versatile – Good for Water, Coffee, or even Skittles!

With so many choices, selecting the right promotional Water Bottle can be a daunting task. Here are some considerations to guide you in your decision.


Understand why you’re giving away a free Custom Water Bottle to someone. If it was as simple as giving away a free water bottle, you could go to Target and buy a cheap water bottle and hand it to them. That totally misses the point.

Face it, the real reason that businesses and events give away custom water bottles is to have their Brand remembered.


If I sent you a free Stainless Steel Tumbler with my company logo & website URL printed on it, you would understand my intention. I would hope that the next time you were looking for custom printed drinkware you would consider browsing my company’s website to find what you need. That Brand Recognition can lead to a sale.


Unlike a gift card or cash that is forgotten shortly after they’re spent, a high-quality water bottle will leave a long-lasting impression. Your Gratitude will be remembered for months, if not years, to come. Don’t go cheap for this purpose. Spend enough to let them know that you’re truly grateful for their efforts.


Giving attendees a water bottle printed with an event and date remind them that you shared a good memory with them. A Company Picnic, a Conference, or a Fun Run are all events that scream out for souvenirs. The image printed on these souvenirs is more important than the actual bottle. AND they may return for next year’s event to add to their collection.

Consider the Recipient

Don’t focus on the Water Bottle yet.

Next to understanding your Purpose for giving the Custom Water Bottle, your recipient is the most important consideration in choosing the right one to give. Here are some things to consider about the recipient…

  • Occupation – Executive? Retail Store Employee? Salesperson?
  • Lifestyle – Active? Desk Jockey? Commuter?
  • Age – Youth? Boomer? Senior?
  • Event Attendee – Business? Family? Competitive?

You may not have the answers to all of these questions unless your recipients are a very specific group like a High School Men’s Volleyball Team.

More often than not, you’ll need to make some general assumptions about the group you’re giving the water bottle gift to. Any common demographics can help.

Employees of all ages that work in the office at a desk provides you with enough to know they drive to work and have desk space. A coffee travel tumbler would be a good choice for this group.

A little thought about the recipient will help you determine your budget, the style, and the material of the promotional water bottle gift to give.


Now that you know the WHY and the WHO, you can start to focus on the Drinkware.

Budget is the first consideration that most companies start with in finding the right drinkware gift. Let’s be honest though, a $3.00 plastic tumbler will definitely miss the mark for saying thank you to a C-level executive. On the flip side of that, giving a teenager a $20.00 Stainless Coffee Travel Mug probably isn’t the best use of your budget either.

Quantity will have an effect on your decision process because the final budget is what has to be approved. That $20.00 Stainless Travel Mug is easier to sell to the boss if you’re only giving them to 50 people.

Looking at your final total budget for the project and the number of people you are giving the gift to will determine a price range for the water bottle gift.

PROs and CONs of Water Bottle Materials

How the drinkware will be used can help you determine which style to choose from.


Cost: $3.00 – $75.00


  • Durable
  • High perceived value
  • Long Lasting
  • Recyclable
  • Most are dishwasher safe
  • Holds hot or cold liquids


  • Heavier than Aluminum or Plastic
  • Heats up in hot temperatures


Cost: $3.00 – $20.00


  • Lightweight
  • Recyclable
  • Holds hot or cold liquids
  • Most are dishwasher safe


  • Easily dents
  • Heats up in hot temperatures


Cost: $3.00 – $20.00


  • Taste free
  • Long Lasting
  • High perceived value
  • Hold hot or cold liquids
  • Dishwasher safe


  • Breakable
  • Pricier Option
  • Heavy
  • Not for active use


Cost:$1.00 – $3.00


  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Freezable
  • Recyclable
  • Easy to clean


  • Not for hot liquids
  • Can have odd taste

Get started…

If you search the internet for “Cool custom water bottles” or contact your local promotional products company and ask for “What’s new in water bottles”, you’ll be just as confused as you were before you read this article.

Hopefully I gave you the questions to ask yourself that will help narrow down your options and guide you in choosing the right custom water bottle for your business or event.

Once you answer these questions you can get started in your search by knowing more about what you need. Armed with your purpose, knowledge of your audience and what you can spend to make your project successful.

What’s your favorite Custom Water Bottle?

Agua Fria Freddie 2021 – Arizona’s Groundhog Day

Rattlesnake Pic

While onlookers in Pennsylvania are bundled up, anxious to see what Punxsutawney Phil forecasts on February 2nd, here in Arizona, we have our own weather prognosticator. Agua Fria Freddie! Arizona’s Groundhog Day!

Agua Fria Freddie, the legendary rattlesnake comes out every year to predict the coming of spring. Whether you care or not,  his accuracy is way better than his Pennsylvania counterpart. Freddie’s East Coast Weather Peer is only correct in his predictions 39% of the time since his first showing in 1887.

The legendary, yet lesser-known, Agua Fria Freddie lives right here in Arizona with a 98.8% accuracy rate.

Locals know him as Agua Fria Freddie, a shadow-seeking rattlesnake that comes out every year on February 2nd to predict the coming of Spring to us desert-dwellers.

This event is actually a non-event, as we cannot find record of any gathering to watch this legend search for his shadow. There are some legitimate reasons for not having an actual event to celebrate his findings this year. 

  • Tourists are already in shorts and t-shirts so they don’t care.
  • Social-Distancing… Need we say more?
  • Bill Murray was not available this year for the event.
  • Nobody ever volunteers to get close enough to look for the shadow of a rattlesnake.
  • The big party is at the Phoenix Open Golf Tournament
  • Football fans are busy preparing for Super Bowl LV

Don’t let his cute little Heart-Shaped picture lure you in for a closer look.

It’s not difficult to predict when Spring will arrive in Arizona when the sun shines 300+ days a year, but it is comforting to know that Agua Fria Freddie is watching out for us.

Just watch out for him the other 364 days a year when you’re hiking around South Mountain in Phoenix.


August 28th is National Red Wine Day

National Red Wine Day is actually celebrated twice a year. The August 28th event was created in 2013 to promote Red Wine during the Summer months. While the October 15th event origins are less clear.

Today’s celebration of this beloved beverage lands on a Friday, the day of choice for online wine parties with friends and family.

Our six months of virtual online wine parties during isolation have increased wine sales by 28% in 2020 yet the store shelves have remained fully stocked.

The History of Wine

About 6,000 years ago, the first winery was established in what is now Armenia. The ancient Greeks used wine for trade, religion and health as early as 800 BC. They cultivated grapes in Italy and Spain as they conquered their lands. In the 1300s, Europeans had no steady supply of clean drinking water causing the public (including children) to drink wine. In the 1500s, Spain introduces wine to the new world as a completely new alcoholic beverage.

California wines earn recognition in the 1970s after being snubbed for decades by critics worldwide. The domestic wine industry was ignited by this and today there are over 10,000 wineries in the US. Wineries exist in all 50 states.

Wine by the numbers

California boasts 4,613 wineries in 2020 producing 86% of all domestic wine, followed by Washington, Oregon, New York and Texas.

Of the legal drinking population, 49% drink wine. 54% of those consumers are Women while 46% are men and Red Wine is preferred over White Wine by a 65/35 ratio. The Wine Institute reported in 2018, the average consumer drank 2.95 gallons of wine per year making the US the largest wine consuming country by volume but the per capita rate is lower than many other countries.

Baby Boomers are 34% of the wine market, matched only by the Millennials, also at 34%. Gen X’ers and Gen Z’ers trail at 21% and 7% respectively.

Take it for a Swirl

Swirling your glass of wine aerates the beverage to release the aromas. Much of the pleasure in drinking wine comes from the many scents you inhale as you raise the glass to your nose. Once swirled, the aromas will settle in the glass so you don’t need to swirl every sip.

Many experts agree that red wine does not have to be served at the optimal room temperature of 65 – 70 degrees but rather, drink the wine at the temperature you enjoy. Chilling red wine in Summer months make it a more refreshing choice.

So tonight when your saying ‘cheers’ your virtual friends in front of your computer screen, enjoy the variety of wine that you like best at whatever temperature you like and toast National Red Wine Day.


Promotional Wine Glasses

Today is National Dog Day

August 26th is National Dog Day. This year, more than ever, our furry friends should be revered as National Heroes as they’ve kept us sane during the boredom of working from home.

Their unconditional love and insatiable need for attention have been a much needed distraction from the daily grind of sitting in our makeshift home offices.

Your dog’s schedule has been thrown off as much as yours during this shift in our new normal. T-R-E-A-Ts are requested (or demanded) more frequently throughout the day.

W-A-L-Ks are more frequent in my home as we both battle the urge to walk into the kitchen.

It’s no surprise that the American Pet Products Association estimates that in 2020 we will spend $99B on our pets and dogs are, by far, the largest category in that estimate. We spend money on toys for them but, like Kids, they prefer other items from your closet (my dog loves my dirty socks) to play with.

Unlike 6 months ago, my home office now includes a dog bed where my dog can nap and occasionally look up as I tap on my keyboard. He was a little thrown off in March when I altered my working situation but now I think he’s loving his new normal.

Give your little fuzzy hero an extra squeeze today for all of his help in making your new normal just a little more tolerable. After all, it is his day.


Markit with Power

Tuscany Power bank & Wireless Speaker

Keeping our technology powered up during the day has become a challenge as our lives become more mobile and disconnected from the nearest outlet. Our biggest surge in sales last year was in ACCESSORIES to our technology that allows us our connected, productive days at work or home.

We tax our devices with our demand on them for remote power and connectivity access. Even at our not-so-mobile desk devices we wish we had just one more USB port to plug into.

Customers are grateful for the gift of power and connectivity, and marking these useful products with your brand will energize your image and create a buzz around their office.

Simple items like USB AC Adapters can save the day in a pinch while Solar Chargers add an extra sense of comfort knowing that power is available when no outlets are near.

Even at the office where power is abundant, you can leave your mark on a USB HUB that will be permanently attached to the laptop your customer stares at all day long.

These powerful accessories can be colorful as well as useful, supporting your brand as a helpful partner in their day.

Design From the Heart


Why do your customers buy from you? Is it because your company provides the Best Price, Quality & Service? Blah, blah, blah…snooze.

Every amateur marketer or salesperson relies on these points to sell their services, but that’s not what we buy.

We buy the intangibles

We don’t buy the sweater. We buy the feeling of the fit, the energy of the color, and the experience of the texture. We invest in who we feel we become in the sweater.

We purchase pride and prestige

We pay for the feeling of belonging to something bigger, something popular, current or trendy. Bang wagon Superbowl fans understand this. Not unlike last minute Valentine’s Day cards, team gear flies off the shelves the days leading up to the Superbowl – Not to mention all the Skittles in Seattle. We don’t want to feel left behind. Wanting to be a part of the fun.

Think beyond Price, Quality and Service. Aren’t those expected anyway?

Have you ever seen an ad for a dental office touting they are the cheapest dentists in town, using the highest quality fillings while they drill into your tooth faster than any other dentist within 100 miles? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. And a little frightening.

Design From the Heart

Choose your words carefully and get to the point with your copy. Period. Just because you write it, doesn’t mean they’ll read it.

Use authentic adjectives to describe the products you’re selling (Luxurious Ride, Painless Fillings, Current Styles, etc.).

Don’t go overboard with the over-promising adjectives or you’ll sound like an infomercial (Amazing Offer, Spectacular Savings, Unbelievable Quality, etc.).

Use pictures to provoke a thought or evoke a feeling. Prospects are more likely to remember your story if they figure it out themselves and Photos are a great tool to create a perception of your company in their minds.

Focus on the feeling and speak to the senses. You’ve heard it before “Sell the Sizzle, NOT the Steak”.

Details about Price, Quality & Service are important in preventing buyer’s remorse, so be sure to reinforce these attributes after the sale. This reinforces your customer’s excellent decision and creates confidence. Stay in touch and you’ll likely land a repeat customer.

I ❤ Heart Shapes

Heart Pedometer

Next month’s Hallmark Holiday promotes an icon that we see throughout the year. Hospitals, Wellness Programs and Organizations who Care use this most recognizable symbol to promote their cause.

The first thought in promoting these organizations is to look for Heart-Shaped Products that can be imprinted with their logo, and we have plenty of said products to choose from in our catalog. At last count there were 1820 Heart-Shaped products to be exact.

Heart Shaped Products are probably the most requested shape that we get throughout the year because it’s so very effective. A Heart-Shaped anything with your logo on it says a lot without adding a lot of copy to read.

Heart-Shaped Stress Balls, Pill Boxes, Pedometers and Heart-Shaped Notebooks drive the point home every time your customer sees it or, better yet, holds it in their hand.

Embrace the Heart-Shapes. Connect with your customer’s emotions. Let them know you care.

And don’t forget to stop by your Hallmark Store on the way home tonight to get a jump on the crowds that appear at 4PM on February 14th every year.


8 Steps to Trade Show Exhibitor Success


Whether you’re a first time Trade Show Exhibitor, or a seasoned professional  attending multiple trade shows every year, the experience can be both fun and exhausting. Attracting attendees to your booth, then sorting out the qualified prospects will ‘make or break’ the experience.

You’re making a significant investment in being a trade show exhibitor so be sure you manage the process effectively after the event. Even the best looking booth won’t bring in business unless you follow through and take action on the connections you make.

8 Steps to Trade Show Exhibitor Success

1) Pre-Show Marketing

Let the attendees know you’re there and where to find you. Obtain a list of the attendees weeks before the show from the trade show facilitator so you can communicate with them before they arrive. Some effective methods of reaching attendees are email, direct mail, social media, and mentions on your website.

2) Set Goals

First you have to understand why you’re exhibiting. Most will say ‘to get sales’ but you need a more defined goal to make the goal actionable. Do you want to collect leads to pass on to your sales department for follow up? Do you want to make the sale on the spot? Maybe you’re there just for brand recognition in a specific industry.

3) Evaluate your Lead Collection Method

Simply displaying a fish bowl to collect business cards for a prize is not an effective lead collection method. All you learn is that they want a prize. Prizes are good, but be sure to have people fill out a short registration form to capture more information if that’s your draw. Not all attendees are prospects so focus on lead quality, not counts.

Ask for type of business, product interest, purchasing authority, contact info, etc.. Whether you’re using an electronic lead management system or a simple printed follow up form, include a limited number of qualifiers (hot lead, send salesperson, mail literature) to the form to get them in the correct follow up bucket.

4) Create a Winning Trade Show Booth

A free standing floor graphic wall provides an 8’ or 10’ backdrop to attract attention and tell your story. A less expensive option is to use 3 or 4 free standing retractable banners next to each other to create a similar affect. Tables are usually provided to exhibitors with a blank table throw. Use this 30” x 72” space to reinforce your brand with your own Custom Table Throw.

One note here – AVOID the temptation to place the table in front of your booth separating you from your prospects. Place it along the side of your booth to keep your space open and inviting.

5) Staff Training

Choose the employees that will staff your booth carefully. Representatives must be engaging, approachable and trained to understand the goals you set for the trade show. Not all of your staff needs to be trained for answering detailed questions about the product or service, but you should have at least one person available to field the detailed questions.

Provide your staff with qualifying questions to ask during training to avoid investing too much in the time-wasters that will show up just for the SWAG.


Also provide your staff with casual uniforms like a polo shirt with an embroidered company logo so the attendees can identify them. A visually cohesive team adds a level of professionalism and strength to your brand. Selecting a shirt color that reflects your brand adds to the booth appearance. It’s also great when your team is recognized walking through the convention because of your stand out company colors.

6) Booth Giveaways

Part of the fun of attending a trade show is gathering great giveaways from each booth. Use this to your advantage and provide thoughtful items that create a buzz at the show. You don’t need to spend a lot on these giveaways for them to be effective.

A simple Toy  can go physically viral at a show while attendees play with them and others ask, “where did you get that?” Imagine colorful toys flying around the show sporting your company logo. Items they display instead of tossing in their bag are great walking advertisements.

A simple 3” dia. button that reads “My Name is Jim” can created a buzz throughout the show. Everyone will be calling each other Jim and they want their own custom button to be part of the fun.


Invest in some nicer Gifts for people who give you information and qualify as a good lead. Corporate logo T-shirts, branded cell phone chargers and selfie sticks with your company logo can be the most successful gifts given to a qualified prospect.

Keep your printed handouts minimal. Attendees are walking around with an event tote bag full of business cards, branded giveaways and  brochures. Their totes are too heavy for your complete printed catalog.

7) Daily Staff Debriefing

A daily staff gathering after the exhibit hall closes provides instant insights into what worked and what didn’t. Take notes no matter how unimportant the observations might seem. Most attendee feedback is forgotten shortly after the dust settles. The feedback on what wasn’t successful will help you avoid the same mistakes next time.

Remember that you’re seeing the trade show as an exhibitor but it’s the attendee experience you want to know more about.

8) Lead Follow up System

Prepare your follow up system before you exhibit at a trade show. You need to act quickly while you’re still fresh in their minds. Remember, trade shows are exhausting and attendees visit hundreds of exhibits while at the show.  Make quick notes on the back of a business card to remind you of a discussion that will set you apart.  When you send out a speedy response with a personal note it will insure you are remembered.

  • If literature or samples were requested from your company, send a daily mailing list to the office to have that information mailed out the next day
  • If they requested a call from a salesperson make sure all follow up calls are made within one week of the show.
  • If the conversation was more detailed and an estimate was requested, prepare the estimating department for multiple requests and demand that they are expedited.

An email from your company thanking attendees for stopping at your booth and reminding them that you are acting on their request will continue the relationship. This reconnection is also an opportunity to include clickable links to your website for more information.

Following these 8 Steps to Trade Show Exhibitor Success to assist in your Preparation, Execution & Lead Follow up to assure that you realize a substantial return on your investment.

Easy Holiday Business Gift Giving

Every year the Holidays sneak up on us. Not that we haven’t been forewarned 4 months ahead of time when the Holiday decorations start to show up in retail stores.

At first, we ignore it because it’s too ridiculously soon to even think about it. Then, before you know it December 15th arrives and we scramble for appropriate business gifts.

Remember that your gift should be a gift of Gratitude, not a billboard. It’s not the time for a T-shirt or a Padfolio with a calculator.

Be Tastefully Thoughtful

Sweets are a universally welcomed gift for the Holidays. They’re not just for the CEO or Business Owner, but for the entire office to enjoy throughout the Season. Showing your Gratitude to the entire customer’s office will get you more kudos from the boss than giving him or her something just for them.

Neatly packaged, and Tastefully Branded, professionally prepared Food Gifts are an excellent Corporate Gift for the Holidays. Your customers and their employees will be reminded of your gratitude with every tasty bite.

Your printed logo on the ribbon is a tasteful way to show you care without being self-serving.

Get it Off Your Plate and Onto Theirs

For your convenience, many food manufacturers can ship your gifts directly to your customers. This service eliminates the hassle of shopping, packaging and shipping.

Send us Your List and We’ll Check it Twice.

Be a Thoughtful Gift Giver

Aside from having your Tower of Chocolates wrapped in a ribbon with your logo printed on it, Be creative. You can also include a Holiday Greeting Card  if you wish.

Don’t make Holiday Gift Giving an opportunity to make a sale. Be gracious, be grateful, be sincere with your gift. And leave a great taste in their mouth when they think of you throughout the year.

If we can help you give appropriately this season, we would also be grateful.