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Keep and Use or Throw Away: Make Sure Your Trade Show and event Swag is Worth Keeping

Updated: Jan 19

If you’re planning to display your goods at an upcoming exhibition or trade, hoping to attract a bevy of hot prospects, it’s vital that you make a memorable impression. You may have already done plenty to promote your participation, but you still need to determine what types of “swag” to give out to passersby or visitors.

Swag is short for Stuff We All Get and since you’ve probably attended a number of trade shows, you’ve seen people carrying around bags filled with the stuff they’ve gotten from the participants. And if it’s a huge show with hundreds of exhibits, you will want to make sure that you are not forgotten.

Think back on your days Trick or Treating on Halloween. We all remember the homeowners who give out the best and biggest candy bars as well as the people that handed out apples or oranges. Do you want to be one of those trade show or event participants who finds their swag in trash cans the way kids throw out the unappealing “healthy” treats they get on Halloween?

So, think twice before you place an order for 500 key chains embossed with your company name. Try to come up with something you can afford that your prospects would actually be thrilled to receive. What enticing giveaway would likely imprint your company name in their consciousness once they’ve left the show? And, what would they likely throw out?

Throw Out?

Think about what you as a businessperson wouldn’t want to get and would likely throw out before leaving the event.

Too Big

If your giveaway is too big then it becomes too difficult to carry around during the event. For people who have traveled to attend the trade show or event, how likely is it that they would pack it up and take it all the way home? So, refrain from large bulky giveaways that can’t be carried around comfortably in a standard size bag.

Too Heavy

Likewise, if your swag is too heavy attendees are not going to want to carry it around all day. They may politely accept your gift, but as soon as they’ve turned the corner, it’ll be tossed in a trash can. But if your giveaway is something out of this world, ask for their business card, so you can ship it after the show. This gives you a reason to reach out, right?

Too Mundane

Common things that most people already have, like a water bottle, a pen, or an ordinary calendar, should automatically be off your list. None of these show any imagination and would certainly not make a memorable impression. An exception to this rule might be if the promo giveaway is of high quality and/or has a more classy appearance or color pattern.

Keep and Use?

What types of swag do visitors love receiving – and would definitely keep and use?

Is it Relevant?

Your giveaway should be relevant to the audience attending the event or trade show. Who will be your visitors? Find out if there is a certain device, book, or tool that would help them do their job. What would this audience find helpful or meaningful?

Personalize It

Very few, if any of us would turn down a gift with our name on it. If you can, find out ahead of time who is planning to attend the trade show or event, and order personalized gifts just for them. These can be Post It notes, calendars, note cards, or even decorative address labels.

Feature The Location

If the trade show or event is in a major city, attendees would very likely enjoy something relating to that location. This could be a city map, a restaurant and nightlife guide, sports team items, or other types of memorabilia that would not only be useful, but also appreciated. See if you can order maps of sightseeing tours or hiking trails. Maybe there are other types of location-related giveaways that you could buy in bulk to hand out at your booth.

A Chance to Win a Prize

Offer visitors a chance to win a prize. You can raffle off something of value like lottery tickets, dinner for two at a local fine-dining restaurant, or tickets to a local theatre production.

Something Useful

Give your visitors something they would definitely find useful. It could be a coupon for a free drink or snack at one of the stands at the show, or something as practical as a thumb drive or a small container of hand sanitizer.

In Conclusion

Take some time to determine what you could give out at your upcoming trade show or event that would make it not only memorable, but also useful. Your goal is to ensure that it will be kept, taken home, and used. The best giveaways are the ones that are talked about at the show and can draw in more visitors. Do not waste your money on meaningless gifts that will be discarded in hotel rooms or just thrown away.


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