What Kind of Swag Should You Give or Get at Conferences?

Pen-drives, name tags & notebooks at Kellogg Conference Center

Tote Bags
Swag has three purposes for vendors:
• Attract people to the booth
• Remind people of your company once they’re home
• Advertise your company at the conference or trade show.
Tote bags do all three of these things. People at conferences and shows need tote bags, if for no other reason than to hold the other swag they pick up. Tote bags are also large enough to fit full logos and contact information. People tend to keep tote bags and use them long after the conference. For attendees, a tote bag is always worth picking up.

T-shirts
A high-quality t-shirt can be a great freebie, but as a vendor, you have to think seriously about where people will wear the t-shirt. If your customer only wears the shirt to sleep or work out, will it really help advertise your business? Conference-goers should almost always pick up a free t-shirt (unless, of course, you have a drawer full of them at home already).

Personal Care Items
Chapstick, mirrors, hand sanitizer … these are great items to pick up at a conference as you may need them during the trip. But for vendors, they frequently aren’t the best option. These items are easily disposable and unlikely to be naturally tied to your brand.

Buttons/Pins
No. Don’t pick them up. You have absolutely nothing useful you can do with that button after the conference is over. The only possible thing you can do with a button after the meeting is give it to a child you forgot to buy a present.

Office Supplies
It sounds simple, but office supplies (pens, Post-it Notes, rulers, etc.) are an excellent choice for both the vendor and the conference-goer. You want your conference swag to remind people of your company; you also want it to remind people at the right time. As comfortable as your t-shirt is, it’s unlikely that your target audience will be wearing it at work. On the other hand, office supplies are used exactly when you want your customer thinking about you at work. These items are small and easy to pack for conference-goers, and you can never have too many Post-it Notes.

Brochures/Look Books
In the old days, savvy conference-goers would mail all the catalogs they picked up home and look at them later. Today though, it’s just too much paper. You can get away with putting your catalog on a branded flash drive, but that technology is also becoming obsolete. You’ll want to print a few catalogs for people who like to do things old-school, but a much better option is to email people a link once they’re home.

If you do wind up picking up unnecessary conference swag don’t be afraid to give it away. Remember, people love free stuff!
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