Gifting Trends
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Unforgettable Impressions: How to Stand out With Swag at Your Next Conference

Published
October 30, 2023
Unforgettable Impressions: How to Stand out With Swag at Your Next Conference

When going to industry events or trade shows, it's important to make a lasting impression with everyone who strolls by (or dares to step into your booth). And what better way to do so than with the best conference swag and gifts for corporate events? 

Swag, short for "stuff we all get," has become a staple at these types of gatherings, but not all swag is created equal. The right swag can leave a lasting impression on attendees and set your company apart from the competition. The wrong swag, on the other hand, can drain your budget and your pipeline. 

Let’s dip into the importance of thoughtful gifts and swag at industry events and some tips on how to stand out with the best conference swag at your next big event.

The Power of Swag: Building Unforgettable Impressions at Industry Events

When attending industry events or trade shows, the goal is to leave a lasting impression on attendees. Most of the time, your stand is just one of hundreds or thousands of others. You’re competing in real time with every company around you, and event attendees have to be judicious in which booths they take time to step into.

Your presence at any event is part brand awareness and part authority-building, but it’s mostly to drum up a long list of qualified leads to convert in the following weeks or months. But all of this starts with standing out and making an impression — and what better way to do so than with the best conference swag and gifts? 

Event gifting has become an essential component of these gatherings, allowing companies to stand out and make a memorable impact. But why is swag so powerful in building unforgettable impressions at industry events? First and foremost, it creates a sense of value and appreciation for prospective clients. When attendees receive a thoughtful and useful gift, it conveys that your company cares about their needs and wants to establish a genuine connection, traits that are valuable in any potential business partnership.

What’s more is that event gifts serve as a constant reminder of your brand. Long after the event is over, the recipients will continue to use or display your swag, creating ongoing exposure for your business to themselves (and probably everyone at the cubicles around them). Every time they reach for that branded water bottle or wear that custom t-shirt, they’ll remember the positive experience they had with your company.

Lastly, by offering attendees a tangible item, you're giving them something they can physically hold and remember your brand by. In a sea of business cards and tri-fold pamphlets, a thoughtful gift stands out and sets your company apart from the competition.

Choosing the Right Swag: Creating Value for Prospective Clients

Hauling a box of branded baseball hats to your next corporate event might tick your to-do box of “grab swag for attendees,” but event gifts are worthy of pumping the brakes before grabbing ye olde swag bin and putting in some real thought. Choosing the right swag for industry events and trade shows is essential for creating value for prospective clients. When it comes to selecting conference swag, it's important to consider what will truly resonate with your target audience and demonstrate the value your company can provide at each specific event.

One key aspect to keep in mind is the usefulness of the swag. Think about what items would be practical and valuable to your potential clients. It could be something as simple as a branded notebook or a portable phone charger. By offering items that attendees can actually use in their everyday lives, you are showcasing the thoughtfulness and practicality of your company. If your swag is low-quality and relatively useless, your attendees won’t take it with them or, worse yet, they’ll toss it in the trash as soon as they get home.

Another consideration is the relevance of the swag to your industry. You want to choose items that align with your brand and the services or products you offer. For example, if you are in the tech industry, offering a tech gadget or a USB drive with your company's logo would be more impactful than a generic item. Considering your brand’s industry also goes in hand with considering the specific event. What are the vibes? A suit-and-tie event warrants some more serious wares while a fun and casual event might have a better crowd for your more unique swag items like Magic-8 Balls, custom viewfinders, margarita kits, and more. 

Furthermore, customization is a powerful tool in creating value for prospective clients. By personalizing the swag with their name or company logo, as well as tapping into event gifting technology that lets them pick out their specific size, you are showing that you have taken the time to understand their individual needs and preferences. This level of attention to detail can leave a lasting impression and set you apart from your competitors.

Harnessing the Potential of Swag to Boost Client Relationships

One of the most valuable aspects of swag at industry events is its potential to drum up and enhance client relationships. By offering thoughtful and personalized gifts, you can create a lasting impression on prospective clients and build a stronger connection.

Swag can be a conversation starter. It can be a proof of value. Your event goodies have the power to spark a conversation that leads to a conversion. When attendees receive a unique and useful gift, it opens up opportunities for valuable networking. It gives you a reason to approach potential clients and build a rapport, which makes every bit of swag a catalyst for deeper connections for the long haul.

By harnessing the potential of swag to boost client relationships, you are showing that you understand the importance of personalized gestures and are willing to go the extra mile for your clients. This level of thoughtfulness can leave a lasting impression and set you apart from competitors who may not prioritize building strong client relationships.

The key to squeezing the most juice from your swaggy fruit, though, is making sure it’s not just one fleeting interaction between your brand and event attendees. Sure, maybe you have a table of tiny touchpoints like branded keychains or lanyards at the foot of your booth, the usual suspects. But when it comes to branded t-shirts, sweatshirts, or gift boxes, make sure you have a plan around them that ensures engagement and post-event connection. For example, maybe your awesome branded fanny pack has a sturdy card with a QR code on it for more exploration, or simply make sure to grab names and email addresses for everyone who takes your high-value goods.

Manually grabbing contact info for each swag item could be tough, especially if an event is hectic and the crowds are thick. These situations are prime candidates for digital event gifting platforms. In lieu of toting along tons of inventory in a huge array of sizes or colors, an e-gifting tool is a way to dodge physical inventory at an event while ensuring you collect every recipient’s contact info. For example, you could simply have a QR code up in your stand, or maybe you decide to hand out exclusive business cards or “golden tickets” to VIP attendees. After scanning the QR code, the attendee is taken to a seamless and memorable gift redemption experience. 

It’s a win-win solution that extends relationships. While you don’t have to drag around swag, your recipient has a branded event gifting experience where they pick their gift, enter their address, and don’t have to figure out how to stuff another swag item in their suitcase for the trip home.

The Cost-Benefit Analysis: Balancing Your Event Gifting Budget and Impact

When it comes to selecting conference swag for industry events or trade shows, it's important to find the right balance between budget and impact. After all, you want to make a lasting impression on attendees without breaking the bank or seeing no ROI. 

To conduct a cost-benefit analysis for your swag choices, start by setting a budget for your event. There are a lot of line items for the typical event setup — booth fees, signage, marketing collateral, immersive experiences, staffing, and more add up quickly. However, while all of these things have a direct effect on the experience event attendees have with your company, swag is the only part of the equation that physically sticks with them. It’s a valuable piece of the event puzzle, so determine how much you can reasonably spend on swag while still achieving your desired outcomes. 

Variables to consider when setting your budget include event location, predicted number of attendees, competition, and event theme. For example, if you’re going to set up shop at an event in your area with thousands of attendees that perfectly match your ICP (ideal customer profile), it’s safe to carve out more of your budget for high-quality swag. If the event you’re attending is across the nation with just 100 expected attendees who loosely match your ICP, your swag budget may take a back seat to must-haves like shipping, travel, and lodging expenses. 

Next, consider the impact that each swag item will have. Think about what will resonate most with your target audience and create a positive association with your brand. Will a simple, practical item like a branded notebook or pen have a greater impact than a more expensive, but less useful, item? Is this event a good match for a highly custom item or a more generic gift? 

Also, don't underestimate the power of easy gifting. While flashy or high-tech swag may seem impressive, it's often the small, thoughtful gifts that leave a lasting impression. A well-chosen and personalized item can have a significant impact on building rapport and establishing a connection with prospective clients, so don’t sleep on things like delicious snacks, coveted sticker sets, or that pen that everyone wants. 

By carefully weighing the cost and impact of your swag choices, you can find the perfect balance that will help you stand out at your next conference while staying within your budget. Remember, it's not always about how much you spend, but rather how well you understand your audience and deliver a meaningful and memorable experience.

Swag That Sticks Around: Ensuring Your Brand is Remembered Post-event

After the industry event or trade show is over, you want your brand to stay fresh in the minds of attendees. This is where the power of swag comes into play. By choosing the right conference swag and gifts, you can ensure that your brand is remembered long after the event is over.

When attendees receive a thoughtful and useful gift, it's easy for them to continue using it in their everyday lives. Whether it's a branded water bottle, a custom-made t-shirt, a handy piece of software, or a portable phone charger, these items will become a regular part of their routine. And every time they reach for that item, they will be reminded of your brand and the positive experience they had at the event.

But it's not just about the practicality of the swag. Personalization, even done lightly, plays a crucial role in ensuring your brand is remembered post-event. By customizing your swag with a client's name or a thoughtful gift note, you’re creating a unique and memorable gift. This level of attention to detail shows that you value your clients and want to establish a deeper connection with them.

When you lean into gifting technology like Zest, you can easily personalize the e-gifting experience with branded colors, your company logo, and a personalized gift note that ties back to each specific event. It’s an experience that stands out from the sea of typical event gift experiences, and the platform gives you an open door to each recipient moving forward. Not only are you able to collect each swag recipient’s email address or phone number, you’re also given an easy excuse to reach out in the future. Once you see their branded socks or gift box with coffee was delivered, a simple email asking “How was the coffee? It’s my favorite brand and I thought you’d like it!” is enough to keep the conversation rolling until a deal is won. 

By focusing on easy gifting platforms and personalization, you can ensure that your brand remains at the forefront of attendees' minds long after the event is over. So don't overlook the importance of swag that sticks around — it's an investment that will pay off in the long run.

Lean into Your Swag Closet to Close Deals and Grow Your Brand

In the competitive world of sales, closing deals and growing your business can often feel like an uphill battle. But what if I told you that the solution could be as simple as swag? The right gift at the right time to the right person can actually be leveraged to help you close deals and take your business to the next level.

The combination of niche industry event plus captive target audience makes for a prime opportunity to make your mark, and clever, useful, and high-quality swag is a staple to doing so.

First and foremost, swag creates a positive and memorable experience for prospective clients. When attendees receive a personalized and useful gift from your company, it not only shows that you value their needs but also helps to build rapport and establish a connection. This can be a game-changer when it comes to closing deals, as clients are more likely to remember and choose a company that has gone the extra mile to make them feel appreciated.

Additionally, swag can act as a conversation starter and give you an opportunity to further discuss your business and the value you can provide. When attendees receive a unique and impressive gift, they are more likely to engage with you and be open to hearing about your products or services. It's a win-win situation that can help you build stronger client relationships and ultimately close more deals.

Plus, when you leverage event gifting technology, you cut back the manual tasks on your plate while creating a modern event experience for your gift recipients. 

So, don't underestimate the power of swag when it comes to growing your business. By offering thoughtful and personalized gifts, you can leave a lasting impression on prospective clients and set yourself apart from the competition. It's an investment that can pay off in the long run, helping you close deals and propel your business to success.

Authors
Liz Lorge
Liz Lorge
Marketing
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