Picture this: it’s the year 2023. You’re attending your seventh-ever conference. You enter the venue and get your badge on a lanyard (another one to add to your collection). They also give you a shirt in the size you requested when you registered online. It’s big and boxy. The design is uninspired. They somehow managed to make cotton feel… unpleasant. You thank the kind registration staff while pondering if the shirt is acceptable to be used as a bedtime t-shirt, or if it’s going straight in the donation pile when you get home.
It’s day two. Time to network and talk with vendors! Everyone is giving away keychains with their logo slapped on them. You sigh. You feel a bit bad knowing you’ll throw them all out when you get home.
Day three. The conference is almost over. You’ve learned so much — you can’t wait to tell your team everything you learned when you get home! It’s the last day, surely they save the best swag for last, right? Wrong. You get a USB stick. I repeat, it’s the year 2023 and you got a USB stick. You think about your mom, who doesn’t use cloud storage and figure you’ll give it to her so she can have extra storage for photos (and viruses, probably).
Whether you’re a conference organizer or a vendor, you don’t want this to be the experience you provide. You want your swag to be memorable and something that gets attendees talking.
Here are a few swag ideas to giveaway for your next event:
Okay, if you don’t like LEGO, maybe you’d be a little disappointed getting a minifig. But, there is a 100% chance you know a kid or an adult who likes LEGO in your life. When you give them your LEGO minifig, you’ll be a hero.
If your conference has a well-known keynote speaker, or your business has a mascot, this could be what you splurge on! A great example: Whitespark made a Local Search Hero minifig that we love.
Because seriously, who doesn’t love stickers? Even if someone has a minimal aesthetic, they still probably have one item that’s home to all of their stickers, whether it’s a laptop, water bottle, or notebook.
Design your own custom stickers and get them printed, or you can get some pretty neat stickers from the KP General Store to hand out. (Yes, this is a shameless plug.)
The way to (almost) everyone’s heart is food. Give someone good food and they won’t forget it. Of course, that means it has to be delicious. No one wants a granola bar that’s going to break their teeth.
Better yet, source your snack from a local business! If you can, use stickers or packaging to add brand flair.
Snack ideas: cookies, popcorn, candy, chocolate bars
Other ideas: coffee beans, tea leaves, breath mints
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
A must-have for cleaning your glasses (how are they always dirty?) and the screen you sit in front of 24/7. Bonus points if you design an interesting pattern using your brand colors or include a fun quote instead of just slapping your logo on it.
Wait, this is a best list, right? Yes, it is. Pens belong on both the best and worst list for conference swag. A cheap pen simply sucks. It’ll probably be used once and then be forgotten, the ink destined to dry out.
A good pen? Writing with a good pen is like when someone massages your head. You don’t get a head massage often, besides maybe when you get your haircut. But it feels so damn good. When you write with a good pen after typing all day, and you feel how it glides across the paper, it makes your brain feel happy. You think: “I should write with a pen more.”
Sidenote: Bic Clic Stic pens are acceptable, but you could go fancier.
Notebooks are popular for a good reason! People use them to doodle, to jot down their great ideas, for messy meeting notes — notebooks are versatile. A high quality notebook is *chefs kiss*.
Coasters can save your tables from scratches, stains, and water damage. They make great decor, and they also make you look like you have your shit together as an adult.
There are so many cool things you can do to customize coasters. You can have a fun shape or keep it a classy circle. You can have quotes, patterns, maps, or illustrations on your coasters. There are a lot of creative ways you can apply your brand to coasters!
People who attend conferences typically do it as an excuse to travel. They likely packed a suitcase and are staying a few days. You know what they could use? A luggage tag! But not one of those gross plastic ones that break after a few trips, a high quality one that will last a long time! Leather or wooden luggage tags will help people connect your brand with words like “high quality” and “luxury”.
Even in warmer parts of the US, 60% of adults wear socks at home. We honestly thought this would be a bit higher, but the more surprising statistic is that more people are buying socks to sleep in. 😲
In our opinion, getting socks is more fun than the predictable t-shirt. You can have a lot of fun with patterns, like Kick Point did with the socks they designed.
General Rules for Great Promo Items
Don’t be fooled. Just because you gave away 3,490 paperweights at the last trade show you were at, it doesn’t mean your product was a hit. People pick up free stuff because it’s free. Then they get home with all of their free stuff and there is regret. People are cutthroat and will throw it out if it isn’t cool, high-quality, functional, or if they have too many of them.
When creating swag to giveaway at conferences, trade shows, and events, follow these guidelines:
- Design: less “let’s slap our logo on it” and more “design-y, cool, and subtle” to showcase your brand. If people won’t wear it or use it because it doesn’t look nice or appeal to them, it’s probably going in the trash.
- Quality: if your brand is on something that feels or looks cheap, people will perceive your brand as cheap. Less is more — focus on quality instead of quantity.
- Functionality: don’t give event attendees something they won’t use. This requires you to know your audience. Do some research in advance, but also ask people at the conference what they’d love to see next year. Also take note about what items people get excited about.
- Steer Clear of Trends: if something is trendy, everyone is probably going to be giving out the same thing. This results in a lot of waste and makes it harder for your brand to stand out. Use your best judgment here.
Where to Get Custom Promotional Products
We’ve heard good things about these places:
Good swag doesn’t end up in the trash. Make merch people will love! ❤️