There are few things people love more than getting a freebie, which is why conferences are like hitting the jackpot when it comes to scoring free stuff. We’re talking about conference swag bags, which are typically given out to attendees when they arrive and are full of items branded by various companies. But depending on factors like budgets, a lack of foresight, or just no imagination, sometimes swag can be less than appealing – particularly if it’s useless or poorly made.
However, contributing swag to a conference bag can also be a smart tactic for companies that know what attendees are looking for. The most important thing is to make sure it’s something useful and creative, especially since your branding will be on it – don’t forget your swag is essentially an advertisement for your services!
Here are five swag ideas that are proven smash hits on the conference circuit:
1. Quality clothing
You’ll almost always see some form of clothing – usually custom t-shirts – in a conference swag bag, which means you have to ensure yours sticks out from the crowd. Think about the design: Is it interesting and creative? Is it something people will want to wear outside of the conference? Plus, don’t overlook the fabric of the clothing item as well – a poor quality piece of clothing could reflect poorly on your brand, particularly if your logo is on it somewhere. Think about how you can tie your clothing offering into your mission, whether through the types of apparel items you give away, or the design you create for your shirts.
2. Portable chargers
This one is a no-brainer, especially given that power outlets will likely be at a premium during a conference and everyone has smartphones that will need charging. Look into providing small portable chargers for phone and tablets that can hold a fair amount of power so conference attendees can network without fear of dead devices. As a bonus, portable chargers can continue to get a ton of use long after the conference is finished, which means your company’s name will still be out there! Longevity is super important when it comes to swag choices, so consider chargers if you want your branding to have serious impact.
3. Thumb drives
USB/thumb drives are another surefire hit when it comes to swag bags. Depending on the storage size, a thumb drive is a practical item that many people would love to receive as a freebie rather than having to purchase. A popular idea is to provide a thumb drive attached to a keychain for double practicality, especially if the drive is small enough (make sure you order a model that isn’t easily breakable!). Plus, this is another item that attendees could use for a long time outside of the conference.
4. Reusable water bottles
People definitely aren’t going to stop drinking water any time soon, so why not offer them a free vessel for their liquid of choice? Branded water bottles are especially useful at conferences, because attendees will want to stay hydrated while they check out the event floor or attend panels. Plus, the reusable factor of water bottles shows that you’re thinking environmentally and encouraging others to do the same. (On this same note, branded travel mugs are also a great idea!)
5. Branded notebooks with pens
We know, we know – why still offer analog swag like notebooks when everyone’s equipped with laptops to take notes? Simple: Computers can be unreliable, files can be lost, and the distraction factor of the Internet is high. Encourage attendees to take notes – even if just as a backup – with a stylish notebook branded with your company’s logo, and include a good quality pen to go with it. You could even slip some extra collateral inside, like a small sell sheet for a product or a to-do checklist that attendees can later keep at their office desk.
Give your attendees gifts they’ll actually use
Still at a loss for ideas? Your number one thought when developing swag should be creating something people actually want. Think back to the last conference you went to, what gifts did you like and dislike the most in your swag bag? Then brainstorm some ideas from there. The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing good items for conference attendees – make sure it’s something you want them to remember you by!
Caitlin Hotchkiss is the content and social media manager for FrontStream, covering all the best and latest news and tips for fundraising success. With many years as an online influencer, she works to stay ahead of the trends by keeping one eye on upcoming online tools and the other on established favorites, spreading the good word of charities and nonprofits across the digital landscape.