In theory, goody bags, swag bags — or whatever you call them — have a clear intention: to leave a long-lasting positive impression on attendees about your event.
However, the questions of the day is, are swag bags passé?
If they are well-thought-out and attendee-centric, then I would say definitely no. Unfortunately, most swag bags don’t fall into this category; they are full of unwanted marketing collateral and cheesy giveaways, which fails to leave a lasting impression.
So how can you effectively plan your swag bag to make a lasting impact?
Let’s take a hard look at the four things that make up a great giveaway.
Buy Gifts Attendees Appreciate or Would Not Usually Buy for Themselves
When deciding what to put into the bags, consider the following questions:
- Would I want and use these items?
- Are the gifts unique?
- Is it a gift that keeps on giving?
- Will these gifts help attendees remember the conference?
Determine When You Will Be Giving the Bag Out
Some conference organizers give the bag at the beginning of the event while others wait until the event is over. Does it matter? YES!
If you give the branded bag at event check-in, make certain it has items that will help attendees get through the conference. Here are some items you might want to consider:
- A large messenger bag where attendees can store their computer and notes
- An umbrella for going out at night
- Bottled water
- One quality pen — not multiple promotional pens
- Sunscreen (if a portion of your conference will be held outside)
- Hand lotion or sanitizer
- A phone charger (you will have to provide both iPhone and Android chargers. By the way, this is the most-forgotten travel item.)
- Book light for reading
If you wait until event close, be sure to include quality products attendees will want:
- A book from one of the keynote speakers
- Membership to Lumosity
- A gift card worth at least $15 to a national retail outlet (Starbucks, Amazon, Cinemark, etc.)
- A certificate indicating that $15 to $50 was given to a local charity in their name
- Gifts that are reflective of the locale; for example, wine from a local winery or a memento from a local attraction
The Swag Needs to Pass the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standards
Believe it or not, CPSC keeps an eye on events and will make random checks to see what giveaways are in goody bags or given out on the trade show floor. The standards are pretty reasonable — it’s always good to have a working knowledge of them as you’re planning your gift bags.
Don’t Put “Also Ran” Items Into the Bag
Cultivate a strict “No Junk” policy. Here is what attendees don’t want in their goody bag:
- Promotional literature
- Key chains
- USB drives
- Stress balls
If your stakeholders give you those kinds of items, decline them and provide them alternate options — like featuring their logo on the bags or attaching their business card.
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