SWAG Ideas for Trade Shows

Giving away SWAG (promotional items) at a trade show or conference can help with your overall marketing strategy. By using promotional items, you are able to increase brand recognition and it can give you a competitive edge.

Promotional items help to consistently expose your brand. Although many people think that the items they give out will just be thrown away, a recent study shows that people are actually keeping their promotional items for longer periods of times. 

Promotional Products Work show us the effectiveness of promotional items:

  • 55% of participants generally kept their promotional products for more than a year.
  • 76.3% of attendees had a favorable attitude toward the company that gave them the product.
  • 71.6% of attendees who received a promotional product remembered the name of the company that gave them the product.

It is easy to see why companies would spend money to purchase promotional items. However, in order to make your SWAG more effective, the products you are handing out should be different and useful. Notice that we used the word “Different.” As you walk through a trade show and pass by the many booths, you’ll see the same promotional items such as pens or drink cozies.These are the most common items and they won’t necessarily make attendee’s run to your booth.

C. Hopson says “Fewer items given to the right people are better than giving out junk to everybody. Come up with your budget first and then work backwards to the actual swag.”

We aren’t saying go out and buy everyone an IPAD, it’s perfectly okay to give out pens and shirts, but make sure that they are higher quality.  Randy Clark at TKO Graphix says that if you use lower priced promotional items, it could actually hurt you in the long run. “Customers expect a product, even when it’s free, to do what it’s supposed to do, and when it doesn’t, they question the integrity of the organization that handed them an inferior product.”

By having a product that will last longer, you’ll actually be able to get more impressions. It’s a win win situation!  

Here are some SWAG ideas for trade shows:

Tech Promotional Products

Because we are all attached to our phone and not only use them for personal use but also for business, tech promotional products are usually the most popular. They might be a bit more expensive than your usual promotional items which is why you can be more selective of who you want to give these to. Because tech items are more valuable,  you can bet that whoever receives them isn’t going to throw them away!

Our top pick: Car USB Charger-  We’ve all been there, our battery is low when we are driving to our next meeting or worse, on a long trip. Because some people will be driving to the trade show and will probably be using their phone’s all day, they’ll appreciate having something that will allow them to charge their cell phones and when they do, they’ll think of your brand and how it helped them. 

Additional SWAG Ideas:

  • Screen cleaners
  • Headphones
  • USB drives
  • Cell Phone Cases (iPhone cases are the most popular) 

To use during the trade show 

Our Top pick: Hand Sanitizer– You’ll be shaking lots of hand’s and meeting new people at a trade show. Whether you’re a germophobe or not, hand sanitizer will get used immediately. It is an item they can leave in their car or carry in their bags or purses even after the trade show.

Additional SWAG items:

  • Snacks (granola bars, branded waters, popcorn)
  • Breath mints
  • ID Holders
  • Lib Balm (choose “normal flavors” like mint)

Everyday use

Our Top Pick: Bags– If there’s something you can guarantee at a trade show is that people are going to need a place to put all the brochures, business cards and pamphlets they get. Bags with your logo on them are a great idea to use while at the trade show and they’ll be able to use them after the trade show when they go grocery shopping, to carry wet clothes at the beach, or to pack things for a picnic. If you really want to be different, try Lunch Bags. Because of long commutes and people being more health conscious, more people are packing their own lunch. Bags/Totes and lunch bags are great promotional items because they have a large custom printed area. 

Additional Swag Items:

  • Water Bottles (plastic or aluminum) 
  • T-Shirts (choose high quality cotton shirts so that people actually wear them)
  • Kitchen Items (pizza cutter, bag clip, cups)

To use at the Office

Our Top Pick: Desk Items (Stress Ball, Calendar, Desk organizer tray)- Some of these are items they might not go out and buy for themselves but they’ll definitely keep them and use them if they got them for free. They’re different than the typical office supplies.

Additional SWAG items:

  • High Quality pens
  • Notepads or sticky notes:
  • Mousepads
  • Picture Frames
  • Business Card Holder

Incorporate the Theme

Ashley Mo suggests playing off of the Theme, for example, if it’s a 90’s themed trade show or convention, offer slinkies. Adults might enjoy these items but many of them are also looking for little souvenirs they can take to their children when they get back.

Our Top Pick: Sun protection (sunglasses, umbrella, sunscreen). These are great items if you’re close to a beach or have a beach theme. They’re items that are essential but people forgot to bring with them. They’ll get to use them while they’re exploring the city and they’ll use them once they get back home. 

Additional SWAG items:

  • Stress balls (customized to the theme) 
  • Toys (small stuffed animals, inflatable ball, Frisbee’s)

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