We’ve all gotten a lot of swag in our days. Some of it we use during the event. A few we cherish for years and years. Some we can’t wait to leave behind in the hotel room!
All these experiences with swag got us thinking about what kinds of swag attendees actually want at events right now. Is it all about brand names and “cool” stuff? Or are they looking for fun gear to use out of the office? There are a lot of options, maybe even too many, but we have found a few hard and fast rules when picking any giveaways for your next event. To get you started, this is all the swag your attendees will actually want and use!
High value items.
One high-value item, such as a piece of name-brand tech or gear, can anchor your entire swag bag. Here are some examples:
Name brand tech: Native Union cables, Mophie battery packs, JBL portable speaker, Tile GPS trackers.
Well made water bottle: Nalgene, Miir, HydroFlask.
Nice bags: Baggu sling bag, North Face backpack, locally sourced canvas tote.
Like it or not, attendees are drawn to brands. They want products they can trust and take to work or on other trips. This is especially important with technology, where off-brand cables or battery packs seem to just stop working or break when we need them most.
Water bottles are a staple in swag bags, but oftentimes they are not that well made, have a weird taste, or are simply not a joy to use. Look for bottles that are high-quality, eco-friendly, and from a brand that sparks interest and long-term use.
The swag bag can also be a high-value item that will get attendees excited about what’s inside. Try to tailor the bag specifically to the swag. Got a lot of small items? Go with a compact sling bag. Throwing in a long poster? A locally made canvas tote will give you plenty of extra space.
A note on branding: Your logo/company name does not need to feature prominently on the swag. Slightly out of sight and no larger than a coin is the way to go. Keep it low-key. It will make potential attendees more curious about the event!
FYI: gemnote is a great resource for branding much of the name-brand swag above.
Gear for an adventure.
Give attendees fun gear to take on their next impromptu adventure (even if it’s just a stroll through the park). Here are some examples:
Rain items: Waterproof phone case, waterproof bag, quick dry towel
Handy things: flashlight/lantern, solar charger mat
Nature books: Local birds, Local plants, Local parks guide.
Adventure is a bit of a buzzword right now, but at the heart of it, it means going outside, away from offices and screens, and unplugging. Rain can be a damper on all this though, so it’s a good idea to throw in an item that will keep attendees, and their things, dry, wherever they are.
Sometimes adventures run long. Maybe you’re out past dark, maybe you forgot to charge your phone. A handy flashlight, lantern, or solar charger can be just the thing in a pinch.
Also, don’t forget about nature books! Local nature or park guides can give attendees ideas about what to do in their free time, as well as make them feel connected to the event’s local community.
All the cozy things!
Anything that keeps attendees cozy and warm during the event or on their trip will be much appreciated. Here are some examples:
For resting: Rumpl packable blanket, packable pillow, eye shades.
To wear: beanie, mittens, fleece scarf.
A cozy stay and return flight can make all the difference in how attendees remember the event. Check out packable pillows and blankets. You’d be surprised how much these items can compress, and then puff up once out of the bag. Also, eye shades are a fun and useful item that not everyone thinks to bring.
Beanies, mittens, and fleece scarfs are the perfect way to supply instant warmth without taking up as much room as a sweatshirt or fleece. Also, unlike a fleece, these items are generally one size fits all, not to mention a much more original swag choice!
Throw in something that no one is expecting in their usual swag bag. Think about items that can be exclusive, unique, and original to your event. Here are some examples:
A custom magazine: Fill it with valuable content that attendees can’t get online, or anywhere else.
Local gift certificate booklet: Boosts local business, and gets attendees out and about.
A magazine doesn’t have to be an expensive, high-gloss publication, it can be a low-budget zine, black and white, or even a well-designed printed pamphlet. The key is that it has interviews, content, and writing that attendees won’t get anywhere else. This is a great way to get your brand and voice in front of people, as well as an incentive for attendees to get away from their phones.
Gift certificates or discounts to unique, local shops and restaurants, will help support local businesses, and help attendees feel more grounded on their trip. Eating every meal at the hotel, or the place with the best yelp review is just plain boring. Give people a chance to get out and try something new, local, and fun!
Less it more.
You don’t need to send attendees home with a giant bag of swag just because that’s what other events do. Instead, consider meaningful and useful items that will make people smile when they think of your event.
Focus on items that you think attendees will actually keep. The odds of long-term use are already low with swag – it’s hard buying gifts for people! Especially hundreds or thousands of people that you don’t really know that well.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Would you keep this swag? Is it something you would use? Does it make you smile? Or will it make you happy at some point? If yes, then you just found a perfect piece of swag for your attendees!
Swag is all about making attendees happy!
Swag is essentially a gift, and like all gifts, it should make people happy.
Adding brand-name tech/gear will instill confidence in your attendees and give them something they can use for years to come. Giving items that keep attendees cozy will always be appreciated, especially on the return trip. And don’t forget that less is more – each piece of swag should have a purpose and the ability to spark joy. In the end, swag should make people happy, so if the item makes you smile, it will probably make your attendees smile too!