Did Someone Say…Swag?!


Who doesn’t LOVE free stuff?! Some individuals (myself included) love attending conferences, tradeshows, etc. to get their hands on giveaways, goody bags, and to take part in contests! Promotional items and branded gifts are a great choice for building brand recognition. According to a survey conducted by the BPMA, 83% of individuals can remember the brand of a promotional item they were given without even looking at it, and perhaps more surprising, 73% of people who have received a promo item from a company went on to purchase a product from said company!  There’s no doubt promo items are an effective means of increasing brand awareness and can ultimately lead to an influx in sales.

As a Marketing Manager for two companies, one of my favourite responsibilities is researching, designing and ordering promotional items that the companies use in a variety of scenarios, such as job fairs, tradeshows, networking events and more. Our team prides ourselves on being forward-thinking and creative, and we absolutely love to bring the fun to any event we attend! We often receive many compliments about our giveaway items, and we always attempt to kick it up a notch for each new event that we attend. Here are a few things I consider when searching for promo items:

  1. Does the item match our company/industry? Try to pick items that are in line with your company and your vision. This will make it easier for your recipients to remember which company provided them with the cool piece of swag they received! If you’re a tech company, pick tech items like USB keys, power banks, phone cases or laptop sleeves. Always keep your target market in mind!
  2. Is the branding tasteful? While you are probably incredibly proud of your logo, it’s not necessary to plaster it across the whole item. I’m a firm believer that not every giveaway item needs your logo on it. I have received a few amazing unbranded promo items over the years and I can still vividly remember the company that each item came from. Lack of a logo isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your goal is to have your recipients use these items on a regular basis to create buzz around the item and your brand. When individuals ask me where I got my unbranded cell phone power bank, I have no problem telling them it was a giveaway from the university I attended. Try using stickers or tags with your logo to brand your items instead of putting the logo right on the item; this will give the recipient the option of removing the logo and better increase the chances of having your promo items used.
  3. Is it inventive? Think outside the box! If you’re attending a tradeshow, your goal should be to stand out among all other attendees. Choose items that will set your brand apart. Fridge magnets and pins probably won’t cut it, especially if 25 other companies are handing out those items, too.
  4. Is it practical? Again, keep your target market in mind! Choose items that your audience will actually use. Plan A is a health care staffing agency that employs RNs, RPNs and PSWs. When a new employee gets hired on, we give them a branded bottle as pictured below, and a pen featuring our logo. We provide our employees with black ink pens because health care workers are often required to write in this ink colour, and what nurse doesn’t use a water bottle? We recently took our branded bottles a step further; we created a set specifically designed for our recruiters to use at school job fairs and presentations, and we hand out our original “The A Team” bottles to new hires and those who attend networking events, or job fairs not specifically targeted to students.
  5. Is it of quality? The more use your recipients can get out of your promo item, the better. Consider spending a few extra dollars to purchase items that are of higher quality if they will likely last longer. What use is an item with your logo on it if it breaks within a few days?

I hope that these tips help you with your next promo item purchase! Happy shopping!


2 thoughts on “Did Someone Say…Swag?!

  1. Pingback: 4 (Non-Social Media) Marketing Strategies – The A Dot

  2. Pingback: Trade Show Exhibiting Done Right – Part 2 – The A Dot

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