The Secret Formula to Event Swag

Skift Take

What’s your favorite part about attending trade shows? For many, if they are honest, it is collecting giveaways to take home. Event swag has manifested into a world of awesomeness over the last few years. So what do you need to think about for the winning formula?

If you have attended a trade show or any type of event you have probably noticed the sea of giveaways handed out at booths from vendors. These have probably varied from the low-end swag items such as pens, magnets, stress balls or koozies to the more elaborate items such as light sabers, droids, drones or even food like popcorn! There’s defiantely a rush of excitement as you roam the trade show floor searching for the best of the best swag items to bring back home and fill your suitcase!

There are several reasons why event swag is such a hit, and a must for any vendor to provide to event attendees. Below are tips on how to select the best swag for your brand, and ways to ensure you’re implementing giveaways the right way into your marketing and events plan and budget. Giveaways must be thought-out and mapped into your event strategy in order to make a splash!

The Force is With the Brand


There’s one major reason why brands pass out giveaways at events – brand awareness. Being recognized by event attendees (as well as other vendors) is super important in today’s event realm. The power behind brand awareness at trade shows can go a long way – as any event planner knows you want to make sure your brand stands out from the sea of others on a trade show floor. This entails having the best and right swag items mapped into your event strategy.

The best brands use swag items to lure in booth traffic and get them involved in a conversation right away. Start off by brainstorming what your event theme is going to be for the year. As you’re working through the punch list of items for your event plan, spend time focusing on giveaways. Most people may think giveaways eat a big chunk out of your events budget and are worthless to close a sale – this may and can be true if you’re not buying the right items for your booth.

For example, if your booth theme is revolving around a movie or TV show, incorporate something exciting and fun into your budget to giveaway to attendees. This can be anything from a light saber for a Star Wars theme, or setting up a fun contest to win a custom lego set! You want to spend on items that make sense for your brand, and will have a long-lasting impact. Keep using the same giveaways from event to event in order to create buzz among the industry you’re in!

The Power of “Free”


The word “free” makes our ears perk up! It’s not something we all aspire to look out for, but when attending trade shows, most giveaways are free, unless there’s a contest or campaign involved to win a giveaway on a larger scale. The idea of a “freebie” makes us excited and happy – attendees roam trade show floors searching for the best free giveaways to bring back to co-workers, give to their kids, or to keep for themselves as a new desk souvenir!

You want to make sure your swag item is eclectic, and fun in order to create buzz and stay on top of people’s minds. Once you have selected an item or a few items to pass out at events, take a look at the overall cost and what your ROI is on each show. Does it make sense to giveaway a ton of smaller items, or do you only have budget for one larger contest item? Think through your giveaway plan very carefully – you don’t want to end up with thousands of yo-yo balls in your marketing closet for the next few years!

Don’t End Up in the Trash!

After a long week at a trade show, attendees find themselves sifting through the event loot they gathered at the event, and end up tossing all of the boring and useless items in the trash. Who needs five pens, ten notepads, 20 stress balls or another flash light? Make sure your events team is passing out items that will be keepers! By purchasing swag items that will be long-lasting hot tickets, you’re a shoe-in to be the hottest vendor on the trade show floor from event to event!

The key is to tie-in your swag item to the story you’re telling in your booth. What does your company do and provide? How does a lego set loop into your overall event marketing campaign? Does it make sense? It should if thought out and done correctly. Walk through your event checklist and ensure your swag items are a part of the email templates, social media shout outs, collateral in the booth, and any parties you may be hosting. For example, if your giveaway is popcorn, make sure you have a fun twist on the party you may be hosting at a trade show where you can have a movie or carnival theme to incorporate popcorn! At the end of the day it’s important that every element of your booth rolls into one overall theme and story.

In Conclusion

The best part about attending trade shows is hunting down the sought-after swag items people keep talking about. Take the steps needed to make sure your brand is on that sought-after list of booths people want to visit. The best conversations that take place after an event are those where attendees not only remember what a company does and sells, but how cool of a first impression they made by having the best giveaways and being helpful and knowledgeable on the trade show floor!

Remember there is a lot of competition on trade show floor, so ensuring your giveaway is unique and memorable is key. The best criteria for memorable swag items is selecting something that stands out from the herd of other items and is something attendees can’t find anywhere else. This will only increase your booth traffic day after day, and initiate conversations to not only help your brand, but to help the attendees have an overall wonderful event experience!