Whether you cross someone's palm with silver, pin some lucky heather to your coat or nail a horseshoe above your front door, everyone wants to make sure that there's some good luck in their life. And when you combine that with a sweet treat, what's not to like?! This probably goes some way towards explaining the massive popularity of fortune cookies; the fun is both in the eating, and in trying to determine the meaning of the vague prophecy - or 'fortune' - inside the sweet.

So why confine fortune cookies to an after dinner luxury? You can use fortune cookies to build your own fortunes ...

If you're taking your business on the road, to a trade show or competition, you need to stand out. Amongst hundreds of other tables, stands and adverts it's very easy to simply blend in (at which point your chances of picking up new accounts start to drain away). But remember - everyone at a trade show loves a freebie, so if you've got something to give away, you'll very soon draw a crowd. And crowds draw crowds, once your stall has a 'buzz' going about it, you'll find that you're seldom alone.

With a bit of forethought and pre-planning, you can use fortune cookies as your give-aways, and have a bit of fun at the same time. Think about the cookies as being your business card - just an edible, clever, memorable business card, rather than one which will be lost or thrown away before the potential client has left the venue. The trick is in getting the right 'fortunes' inside the cookies. Have a special batch made up, and walk around the show handing these out early in the morning. These messages direct people to your stall at a particular time. And there you go - a ready-made crowd! Once they arrive, announce a prize draw. Place a winning cookie in the barrel and make sure everyone knows what the prize is and that it's worth having. The catch, though, is that the messages in the fortune cookies direct people to the company website to find out if they've won. A double whammy - it drives up traffic to your website (which has to be good, right?), but it also makes sure that people hold onto your details until they get home. And, of course, each message has your name, contact details and company strap line on it!

Make sure that your 'fortunes' are clever or witty. If you're putting jokes in, set up a twitter hashtag for people to share the laughs (there's always the classic, cheesy "Help! I am being held prisoner in a Chinese bakery"). Or turn the whole idea on its head - allow people to write their own 'fortunes' and leave them on a wall on your stand for other visitors to share. The more enigmatic and inscrutable the better! ("You are magnetic in your bearings." Really? Can it be fixed?) Again, the best examples will go on your website and win a prize, people just need to log on and check.

Use fortune cookies cleverly, and they can really work for you. They tap into everyone's desire to get something for free - and that faint, enigmatic promise that maybe, just maybe, those lottery numbers might be right after all.