People like freebies. Event goers will most certainly appreciate walking away with a bag full of free knickknacks and other useful items they didn’t have to pay for. The term “swag” aka stuff we all get, is event-planning lingo for promotional gear given away for free.
So, for your event, what type of swag will you be offering? If all you came up with are pens and key chains, then you have a lot of brainstorming to do. Swag bags might seem like a minor detail, but actually they provide event organizers with a fantastic opportunity to create a memorable event brand.
A swag bag that is well put together, will create a lasting memory on event attendees, speakers and VIPs. So to help you build a truly memorable event experience, here are a few swag bag ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Promotional Notebooks
Yes, people actually still use notebooks. Taking notes via pencil and paper seems like a lost art considering that it’s less work to just snap a photo of a presentation slide with your smartphone. However, people actually still jot down notes the old school way, and it’s been shown that taking notes by hand helps to improve retention rates.
Notebooks can be left on the seats, so that they’re ready for use the minute attendees sit down for a lecture or conference.
If you want to provide attendees with a more forward thinking solution, Moleskine has teamed up with Evernote to create a notebook that integrates with Evernote’s note taking app.
2. Promotional T-Shirts
There are many great swag bag ideas out there, but promotional t-shirts can be one of the best. The secret is creating a t-shirt that your guests will actually want to wear. Avoid simply placing the event name or logo on the front of the shirt, instead try to create a clever product the fits with the theme of the event.
For example, the software company InVision, gives their most valuable customers a shirt with the words “Design Makes Everything Possible” on the front. This is a saying that customers can relate to, since InVision's software makes it easy to design prototypes.
InVision could have simply just placed their logo the shirt, but instead they created something unique, meaning that those who received the shirt actually wear it. Demand was so great for these shirts, that InVision actually created an ecommerce store to accompany their software platform.
3. Reusable Water Bottles
Reusable water bottles are one of the best swag bag ideas because they’re relatively cheap to acquire, and people actually use them. There is another advantage with water bottles: they are a much more eco-friendly alternative to disposable water bottles.
If you’re organizing an event takes place in an eco-friendly event venue, then providing reusable water bottles for event attendees can be a great option to bring one of the themes of your event together.
4. Food-Based Gift Items
Consider fancily wrapped food items that guests can either consume or give away as gifts. This can be any type of non-perishable food, such as cookies, caramel popcorn, chocolate pretzels, etc.
This is a particularly good swag bag idea if you want to provide VIP guests with something special. Fine non-perishable foods provide recipients with a feeling of being well taken care of, which is exactly the feeling you want your VIPs to have.
Be sure to feature your event logo in the food packaging if possible, to help create brand awareness among potential industry influencers.
5. Well Designed Coffee Mugs
Business people need coffee to live. It’s an unquestionable fact of life for many. Why not capitalize on our dependence on java by providing event attendees with a unique looking coffee mug they can use each day?
During last year’s TechsyTalk Live, organizers provided attendees with a branded coffee mug featuring their bright brand colors on the inside and outside of the cup.
Not all swag bag ideas have to be completely new for your attendees to love them. The key is to make sure that the item is well designed, so that recipients feel like they’re getting something valuable. A coffee mug that looks plain, will be tossed aside, but a colorful mug might be used for years after your event.
6. Fashionable Sunglasses
It just so happens that disposable sunglasses are quite fashionable these days. If you’re hosting an event in a warm climate, than providing attendees with some stylish shades that include the name of the event on the side of the glasses, can be a great swag bag item.
Uber has been known to give away a pair of good-looking sunglasses at some of their events. The glasses even include a fabric case with the event name on it. This helps to keep the Uber brand top of mind, while also providing recipients with a useful pair of shades.
7. USB Chargers Or Adapters
You can never own enough USB chargers these days, this is especially true for event attendees on the road who are constantly worried about keeping their devices charged. Providing guests with a usb charger, or an adapter that helps them charge a number of different devices can be a great way of providing them with a useful swag bag item.
When selecting a charger or adapter, keep in mind that Apple products will eventually reject non-Apple approved products. So consider trying to find a pre-approved charger or adapter to prolong the functionality of the swag.
8. Smartphone Pockets
Some event organizers are tempted to provide attendees with a smartphone case. This is a mistake - smartphone cases are a pretty personal decision, and it’s likely that recipients won’t settle for any old case you give them.
Better to provide them with an adhesive pocket that can attach to any existing smartphone case. This swag bag idea, is great for planners organizers a conference where attendees will be either tech or organization oriented.
9. A Thoughtful Note
Not all swag bag ideas have to involve a new gadget, sometimes a thoughtful handwritten note is the best way to express gratitude to event attendees. For those organizing a non-profit event, it might be best to avoid swag items, instead, opt for writing attendees a thank you note that let’s them know their attendance was appreciated.
Hand written notes are also called for during internal corporate events, where attendees might prefer receiving a well written acknowledgement from a manager, over another item that will just clutter their desk.
Brainstorming Swag Bag Ideas
Event planners interested in providing guests with a unique swag bag should keep in mind that form follows function. Organizers should try to truly understand who their event attendees are, creating marketing personas can help in this case. Once understood, brainstorming a list of great swag bag ideas should be considerably easier.
After all attendees at a medical conference will likely be interested in swag that’s a bit different from attendees going to a startup event.
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