A piece of candy, a chocolate chip cookie, or bottle of water - while appreciated at the time - is quickly consumed and forgotten. The same for pens which typically don't even work. Nerf footballs and similar items are fun but don't really parallel what we do as a business. There needs to be a stronger connection and tie-in.
Part of the decision about what item - if any - to use as a reminder takeaway is the safety of that item. Now that we have fairly stringent regulations on what we can carry on board a plane, the items that are used as takeaways or leave-behinds must be suitable for people to travel with - not just to be used by people driving to or from an event.
Small screwdriver sets - while attractive and nice to get as a takeaway - are totally impractical and a waste of money for the company dispensing them - not to mention showing a lack of care about people being able to use those items.
So, instead of having a nice takeaway, some vendors are actually hurting themselves by what they are handing out. Let's think it through before deciding on merchandise to pass out as a reminder of their visit with us.
Primarily, the items that we select to pass out should have some value to the people receiving them and remind them about us in a positive way. Ideally, it is something that will last longer than the moment and provide continuing reminders of us and our message.
Some good examples that come to mind that are inexpensive to purchase (depending on the quantity ordered) include flash drives, USB booster power units, hand sanitizer in an imprinted holder, key chain levels, magnifiers, and vitamin/pill boxes. The flash drives don't need to be huge storage devices, but they can be imprinted with our message and even include a commercial on the drive for people to play when they insert the drive into their device.
If we are trying to engage seniors, the items we have for them to take with them should be easy to hold and use and should be large enough for them to see.
It does us no good if people take what we want them to use to remember us and discard them after they walk away from us or soon thereafter because they decide they don't like the item, that it really isn't that useful to them, or that it doesn't work after they give it a quick test.
The reason that we would want to provide items for people to take with them is for the residual reminder of us and what we offer. If they items are not retained or used after someone receives it and leaves our presence, then we failed in what we offered. They should enjoy using the item and be reminded of us each time they see, use, or hold it. That's why we should give away something useful and something that is appropriate for the nature of our business.