Often, an event where you showcase your small business is only as good as the swag you give out. Here are five critical guidelines to help ensure yours is great.
People tend to have a great experience at a convention for two reasons. The first is the content. Maybe the keynote talks spoke to them on a personal level. Perhaps they did some great networking or learned some valuable insights into their businesses. The second is the swag—awesome gear they’ll use time and again after the event’s long done.
Although the two aren’t mutually exclusive, people often tend to be happy about the first in spite of the second. Simply put, I’ve seen far too many professionals who are downright awful at making swag. They frequently break one (or all) of the cardinal rules of designing event swag.
Are you among those that break the rules? Consider the following in order to find out.
Tailor the Swag to the Event You’re Running
People attending a major trade show are going to have different expectations than guests at a dinner party or people at an anime convention will. The trade show attendees probably aren’t going to appreciate low-quality graphic tees. In the same vein, smartphone chargers are going to fall pretty flat at a music festival like Big Valley Jamboree, which takes place entirely outdoors.
…And to Your Audience
As always, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give you is to do your research. Know who is attending your event and why. Know what interests them, what makes them passionate, and what bores them. Some advice for determining what you should offer them is:
- Look at events they’ve attended. What sort of swag was handed out at those?
- Listen in on social media.
- Look at their purchasing habits and hobbies.
- Look at their lifestyles.
Don’t Be Afraid to Drop a Little Cash
The best swag is the stuff that costs you a bit of money. At some large conferences like TED talks, they give away high-end merch such as smartphones. While you don’t need to go quite so overboard, I’d also caution you against cheaping out. Spend a bit of money. Show your attendees that they’re worth the price.
….But Avoid These Five Items
There are a few items which, for various reasons, you should never hand out as swag:
- Keychains. Nobody ever uses them anymore. And branded keychains are, at this point, so painfully common that most people will just toss yours in a drawer and forget about it.
- Pens. Show me someone who’s wandering around the show floor with a notebook or clipboard, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t quite got the message that people use smartphones now.
- Flash drives. A few years ago, they were a great gift. Now, in the midst of cloud computing and the mobile revolution? Not so much.
- Phone cases. I can guarantee with near 100% certainty that most of your attendees already have a phone case. Those few that don’t probably aren’t interested in yours, especially given that truly one-size-fits-all cases are pretty rare.
- Anything large or bulky. Remember, your attendees are going to be carrying these items around your conference for an entire day.
Keep Your Branding Low-Key
Last but not least, make sure any branded swag you hand out has an intent beyond, “Hey, look at our logo!” Most people aren’t going to wear a shirt or use a tote bag with a large, garish logo printed right in the center. Keep your branding smart and simple.
Latest posts by Brad Wayland (see all)
- 5 Rules You Need to Know When Designing Event Swag - November 21, 2016