Conference Swag: Benefits and Ideas for Businesses

If there’s one thing conference and event attendees often look forward to more than meeting with experts or expanding their network, it’s conference swag. Everyone loves an opportunity to get something for free, whether it’s a convenient branded tote bag, or a new piece of tech.

According to some studies, up to 85% of consumers do business with a company that gives them a free piece of branded merchandise. Unfortunately, in today’s competitive world, coming up with conference swag ideas that will differentiate your company from other organizations and pave the way for brand loyalty is often harder than it seems.

What’s more, creating and distributing that “swag” can be complicated too, leading to hefty expenses for your growing business. As experts in custom-branded merchandise development, we’re sharing our tips and ideas on how you can maximize the ROI of your corporate swag.

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Understanding the Power of Conference Swag

Promotional items for conferences are more valuable than many companies realize. Though it often feels counterproductive to give items away for free, a simple gift can be enough to capture the attention of your customers, and increase your chances of long-term conversions.

Unique conference gifts help to make your company more memorable, in an environment where countless companies might be competing for attention. Studies show that 85% of people remember the advertiser that gives them a branded product.

What’s more, if you give away high-quality items, your chances of earning your customer’s respect and loyalty is greater too. One study found that 72% of consumers believe the quality of a promotional product is directly related to the reputation and quality of the company.

Perhaps most importantly, effective conference handouts give you an excellent way to boost brand visibility and awareness. Customers can wear and use your products in public, driving more attention back to your company. Plus, every time they use your free item, they’ll be reminded of your business and the benefits you have to offer.

The Benefits of On-Demand Branded Merchandise

One of the biggest challenges companies face when investing in company swag for conventions and conferences, is actually producing the products they need. Wholesale manufacturers rarely offer the high level of customization and flexibility businesses need.

Fortunately, there is an alternative solution. With on-demand branded merchandise, companies gain access to high levels of control and agility. An on-demand strategy for swag creation gives access to benefits such as:

  • Extensive customization: With an on-demand vendor, business leaders can create truly unique conference gifts and custom promotional products. They can tailor each item to their brand’s identity and message, as well as the needs of their target audience.
  • Innovation: On-demand manufacturers can help organizations create innovative trade show swag that differentiates them from the competition. This could include everything from eco-friendly clothing, to technology accessories.
  • Flexibility: With an on-demand manufacturer, you can rapidly update and adapt the merchandise you share at events to suit different themes and audiences. There’s no need to give the exact same products away at every event you attend.
  • Cost effectiveness: Ordering business conference swag on demand helps to reduce waste and excess inventory costs. You can order the exact number of products you need, without having to worry about minimum order quantity requirements.

Plus, a leading on-demand provider like SplashBrands can give you access to a comprehensive digital ecosystem where you can keep track of your most popular products, and leverage analytical insights you can use for future event giveaways.

Trends and Ideas for Unforgettable Conference Swag

If the first thing you visualize when you think about corporate swag for events is pens and mugs, you may be surprised to learn that the landscape has grown astronomically in recent years. Thanks to on-demand vendors like SplashBrands, there’s no limit to how much you can innovate and evolve with your custom-branded merchandise.

If you’re looking for ways to differentiate yourself from other competitors in your industry, and boost your chances of results in 2024, here are some great trade show giveaway ideas to consider.

Practical Products and Apparel

Practical products have always been a valuable option for companies in search of fantastic corporate swag for events. The more useful the items you give away are, the more likely your customers are to use them regularly in their day-to-day lives. This increases the exposure of your brand to new potential customers, and helps to keep your business top-of-mind with leads.

The most effective practical items can be tailored to the specific audience you want to support. For instance, you might give away multifunctional tool pens for engineering or architectural firms. Or you might consider a multi-device charging battery for tech companies.

Some of the most practical conference swag ideas also fall into the apparel landscape. Shirts, hoodies, sweaters, and hats are all excellent for boosting the visibility of your brand and logo. Plus, they’re something your customers can use every day. Some of our top practical recommendations include:

  • Notebooks, stationery, and office supplies
  • Water bottles, mugs, cups, and coasters
  • Clothing (fanny packs, bags, shirts, and hoodies)
Eco-Friendly Conference Swag

Studies show that 81% of customers are planning on purchasing more sustainable products in the years ahead. Demand for eco-friendly solutions is increasing as people become more aware of their carbon footprint, and the impact they have on the planet.

Creating eco-friendly conference swag for event attendees can be an excellent way to demonstrate a commitment to the environment, and separate yourself from the competition. Some of the best conference giveaways focused on sustainability could include:

  • Reusable everyday items: Combining practicality and sustainability, reusable items like tote bags, stainless steel water bottles, and metal straws adorned with your logo can help to highlight your green efforts, and keep your company visible to customers.
  • Eco conscious clothing: Clothing created with eco-friendly materials, such as bamboo or recycled polyester can appeal to customers on a deeper level. You can even work with vendors that prioritize the use of non-toxic inks.
  • Intelligent solutions: Intelligent products or tech that helps customers to reduce their carbon footprint could be useful too. For instance, you could give away branded lights powered by solar power, or radios with their own solar panels.
Innovative Tech Gadgets

If you want to take your conference swag ideas to the next level, an excellent strategy can be to explore the growing landscape of technology gadgets. These days, most consumers are relying on tech more than ever before, from their smartphones, to laptops, computers, smart speakers and beyond.

Already, the consumer electronics landscape is expected to grow to a value of $1,467.94 billion by 2032. If you want to demonstrate an innovative personality to your customers, consider the following trade show giveaway ideas:

  • Wireless charging pads or portable power banks: Everyone needs more power these days, to keep their headphones, smartphones, and other essential products working. Charging devices give your customers a practical solution they can use every day.
  • Bluetooth trackers: With Bluetooth trackers, your customers can avoid losing track of their belongings. You can create solutions that can be attached to keys, bags, and other personal items, to support your customers on a daily basis.
  • Accessories: Tech accessories, such as headphones, branded speakers, microphones, keyboards, and mice are all excellent for a range of customers. They’re highly practical, useful and convey a commitment to quality.
Health and Wellness Products

Just as consumers are focusing more on sustainability and protecting the planet these days, they’re also looking for new ways to protect and enhance their own health. When you’re choosing corporate swag for events, focusing on wellness is a great way to show your customers that you’re putting their best interests first.

You could consider combining wellness solutions with tech trends, creating branded fitness bands or wearables that can track sleep, steps, and heart rates. Or you could look into giving away UV sterilizing boxes, that help to protect devices from germs.

Alternatively, you could keep things simple, with products that help to support a customer’s healthy living strategy, such as branded water bottles, yoga mats, exercise equipment, and more. You could even tailor your products to industry themes, giving away custom meditation mats and cushions at health and wellness retreats.

Personalized Event Merchandise

Another excellent way to upgrade your conference swag ideas, is to make them more personalized. One way to do this is to align the products you give away with the nature of the event. At a tech conference you might giveaway chargers and devices that your customers will love.

If you’re presenting your products at an event that’s focused on sustainability, you can produce more eco-friendly conference swag, to match the theme. Alternatively, you could allow your conference attendees to actually order personalized versions of your merchandise through you.

With on-demand branded merchandise, you can allow customers to add their names to their new hats or hoodies, or choose a phrase or quote to add to their mugs and water bottles. This is a great way to form a deeper, emotional connection with your audience.

How to Choose the Right Swag for Your Conference

These days, companies have endless conference swag ideas to consider, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for deciding which unique conference gifts to distribute. The right options for your company and customers will depend on a few distinctive factors:

Step 1: Your Brand Values and Conference Objectives

First, any custom-branded merchandise you give away at an event should match your unique brand ethos. For instance, if innovation is a core part of your brand personality, then you might want to focus on tech-focused products. If you’re all about sustainability, investing in eco-friendly conference swag is a good way to draw attention to your sustainability strategy.

Additionally, it’s worth thinking about what you want to achieve with your custom promotional products. If you want to boost visibility, choosing products your customers can use or wear everyday could be an excellent way to give brand awareness a boost.

Step 2: The Preferences and Needs of Your Audience

Ultimately, the best conference giveaways work because they’re tailored to the needs and preferences of a specific audience. Before you start ordering products for your next conference, do your research and learn as much as you can about the customers you’re going to be interacting with.

If you’re connecting with customers at a tech event, there’s a good chance they’d appreciate the latest gadgets more than a custom-branded pen or hat. Don’t forget to consider your customer’s values and preferences in terms of materials, the colors you use, and similar factors too.

Step 3: Packaging and Presentation

The way your business swag is packaged and presented can have a direct impact on how valuable it seems. Creating packaging that’s visually appealing, or even innovative and sustainable, can help you to differentiate yourself from the competition.

When you’re preparing your effective conference handouts, it’s also worth thinking of ways to give the goods a personal touch. Customizing the packaging with the recipient’s name, or adding a personal note can make your brand more memorable in the eyes of your customers.

Maximizing ROI with Strategic Swag Distribution

One final thing to keep in mind when exploring conference swag ideas, is how you’re going to manage and distribute the products you create. Before the event, it’s worth finding ways to generate hype about the products you’re going to be giving away. Consider using social media, and your email newsletter to share insights and teasers on what attendees will be able to get.

During the conference, don’t just allow customers to help themselves to free merchandise. Invest in having a genuine conversation with each potential customer. Ask them to support your brand by sharing a picture of their swag on social media, with a branded hashtag to boost visibility and amplify your company’s reach.

After the conference, consider reaching out to your customers with a letter, an email, or an SMS message, to thank them for speaking with you, and let them know you hope they’ll enjoy their free swag.

It’s also important to pay close attention to the metrics that can tell you whether your giveaway was a success. Tracking the number of contacts who reach out to you after event, how many people talk about your company on social media, and how many products you actually giveaway will give you more of the insights you need for an effective “swag handout” in the future.

Discovering the Power of Conference Swag

Practical, innovative, and personalized event merchandise can have a huge impact on your company’s growth. With the right conference swag ideas, you can boost your chances of building strong relationships with your customers, and increase your brand’s visibility.

The key to success is choosing products that resonate with your target audience, offer practical value, and convey the core values of your brand. At the same time, it’s important to ensure you have the best control over the production and distribution process.

Working with a company like SplashBrands means you can access on-demand branded merchandise to appeal to any audience, without excessive costs. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you make your next trade show appearance a success.