Blog Post

Tips and Tricks for Choosing
the Best Branded Swag

Ensuring Your Giveaways Have Life After the Event
Peter Eberly, Director — Product and Vertical Marketing

Call it what you want … advertising specialties, promotional giveaways, branded advertising or custom swag. One thing is clear: You see it everywhere. From trade shows and local events to employee recognition and sales meetings, promotional products have been showcasing corporate brands for decades.

The promotional products industry had more than $17 billion in revenue in 2018, an increase of 2.4% over 2017. Much of that was spent on giveaways for trade shows and events. What happened to most of that swag? Unfortunately, a lot of it ended up in the trash. 

An ASI study found that most people retain trade show giveaways for about eight months. And, once users are finished with an item, they will often give it away. That means the item — depending on what it is — can be in a potential buyer’s hands for more than a year.

According to “The Best (And Worst) Conference Swag” on Quartz.com, the best swag is free, useful, reusable “and – crucially – high quality.”

So, what do you need to consider when choosing a promotional product for your next event or program? Remember these tips: 

  • Provide something useful. How useful the item is drives the recipient’s perception of the brand/company and future impressions (whether they keep and continue to use the item so others see it). Another tip to consider: Many people collect giveaways at events to share with their children. Is there something you can offer that’s kid-friendly? 
  • Make it relevant. If you are at a technology show, it makes sense to give a promotional technology product. If the item is for employees, consider your corporate mission or brand values. Think holistically and make sure the product fits with the overall big picture. 
  • Choose products that are personalized or can be personalized. The more you can personalize, the better. It transforms the item from a product into a gift, one that’s more likely to be kept and used. 
  • Interesting and novel giveaways also are more likely to be held onto by attendees. Socks and digital swag like subscriptions or gift tokens are gaining in popularity. Leveraging nostalgia also can make a memorable impression on recipients. 

Working with an experienced vendor with deep market knowledge can help you identify innovative ideas that will capture attention and create positive impressions and associations for your brand.