Let’s admit it, we’ve all been there. Having been given a swag bag we take a quick look in and decide there and then to take or to toss. Usually given out at the end of a conference it is the final opportunity you have to make a lasting impression on your attendees.

The best swag bags are filled with items that are functional, stylish and maintain subtle branding. A bad swag bag will end up with a quick look over your shoulder and then a subtle toss into the nearest rubbish bin.

Picking items for the bag is not an easy task. Afterall, we have a budget to work to and smaller cheaper items are often purchased by attendees directly anyways – take flasks or Chilly’s bottles as an example – they’re in every shop, and everyone has one anyway. How do you make your items cost effective, desirable and memorable?

There are some items that are destined for the rubbish bin. Let’s face it, we don’t need any more coffee mugs at work, nor does your stationary cupboard need any more pens. Printed collateral is great to flick through there and then, but honestly how many of you keep it and then refer back to it at a later date? Especially when it’s all crumpled up. We all work at our computers daily, so how about an innovative product containing a digital copy of the collateral instead? It’s also a lot greener for the planet.

Consider the size of the branding on your items too. Remember, not all items have to be branded, but if you want to include this try and make it subtle and contain relevant information only (I’m thinking just a logo). Does it really need your phone number and website on it? Chances are they’ll only Google the website or number anyway, or look at an email footer. A heavily branded item, unless exceptional, often discourages use.

Think about the attendees travel too. If at an international conference can they fit it in their luggage for the way home? Will it pass through security? It’s best to focus on smaller, lighter items that can be easily carried rather than anything heavy or bulky.

During a FAM trip in Scotland some years ago, we were given a quality tartan scarf as a gift. The item itself wasn’t branded, but it came in a branded box, extremely well presented. To this day I still use that scarf and I think of the hotel each time. It was light weight, quality, useful, functional, suited both male and female attendees and relevant to the company/location. Moreover, the item itself was related to the destination as there were plenty of jokes about the poor Scottish weather while we were there (no offense Scotland!). In my opinion, the perfect gift.

This was accompanied by some seriously delicious chocolates in a box, a branded USB stick containing the hotel collateral and a hand written personal note of thanks for attending by the hosts. Simple, yet effective. They didn’t go to excess, nor was any item deemed useless. It was about quality over quantity.

Ok so that may have been on a FAM trip, but the same can apply to a conference. In fact, who says that the items have to be given in a branded recyclable or reusable bag? How about an elegant branded box instead? Just as easy to carry and feels more like a “present” than an afterthought.

Surveys have shown that electronics, attractive clothing and items which can be used or given to children are the top gifts to receive. The key question every attendee asks is, “Do I need or want this?”

Why not consider pre-packing the majority of the items into the swag bag, but then letting the guest decide between a couple of items that are out on display. This way they’re personalising their gift rather than making them feel like it’s one of hundreds identical.

Gift Ideas:
• Travel Toiletries (e.g. Miniatures in a bag)
• Children’s Toy (e.g. Lego, Cuddly Toy)
• Edible Items (e.g. Chocolate, Sweets, Miniature spirits, Tea’s or Coffee’s)
• Wearable Items (e.g. Scarfs, Caps, Gloves)
• Seasonal Items (e.g. Small Umbrella, Hiking Backpack, Online Voucher)
• Electronic Items (e.g. Charger, USB’s, Powerbank)

Fundamentally the way to decide if you should include an item in your swag bag or not is to decide if you would like to receive the item yourself. Imagine yourself attending an industry event and you see the item in your give-away bag, would your instinctive thought read “that’s cool” or “I don’t want or need that”. Think style first and marketing second.

If you want to go generic you can look at branding websites, which will all contain the same items. They’re great and serve a purpose, but hopefully this article has made you think a little deeper and outside the box a little next time you organise yourself a corporate event. Think about your attendees, the demographic, your event location, and focus on the key words: Quality, Useful and Functional.

To discuss how Hippo can assist with your event organisation, please contact us – we’re here to help. Hippo.