We’re well on our way into the spring and summer O&P meeting season. In my mind, on the even years, the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP) meeting is the kick-off meeting, and on the odd years it is the kick-off meeting along with the US International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) Pac Rim meeting.

This year, the AAOP Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium in Orlando, Fla., kicked off the meeting season. As an exhibitor at that meeting for the last few years, figuring out what to give away has always been tough. I have to consider:

• What can I give away that people will actually like;

• What can I give away that people will actually use;

• What will people think is cool;

• What is all of the above but isn’t going to break the bank;

• What’s actually going to have some staying power.

I settled on USB car chargers. I’d say 4 out of 5 above isn’t bad. They were a little pricey and the problem with meeting the other goals usually means that you’re going to struggle with the cost. I think giveaways are a fantastic marketing opportunity provided you keep all these things in mind.


Image: Elizabeth Mansfield


Swag with staying power

I have an Arthur Finnieston Inc. tape measure that I borrowed from my dad, who acquired way back in the day. Actually, my dad let me borrow it but he got it out of my mom’s sewing kit. How do I know how old it is? The office address on the tape measure is for a location that they moved out of more than 60 years ago. Talk about staying power! What are you giving away that people are still going to be using 60 years later? Sixty years of use. That is a pretty good goal.

I might not be wearing my Alabama Prosthetic & Orthotic Association meeting shirts in 60 years but I haven’t gotten rid of them yet. Why not? They’re cool. They are probably the coolest looking O&P meeting shirts out there. People at the meeting were pretty unhappy the first year when they ran out of shirts. There was some yelling. I kid you not. Cool enough that people fight over them. That is a pretty good goal.

If it’s free, it’s for me

Giveaways are an important part of your overall marketing plan. Who doesn’t like free stuff? The key things to remember are that it’s not just about the free stuff; you really want them to be effective reminders. You want them to be positive reminders of you and your business.


Elizabeth Mansfield


Take a minute to think about all the free stuff you have accumulated over the years. Which ones are you still using? Which ones made an impression on you when you received them? Which ones did you miss when you lost them, broke them or gave them away?

Remember, the giveaway goal should be good enough to last 60 years and cool enough to start a fight.

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