Cool company swag can be a nice way for companies to get their names out there while also giving consumers and employees items they might enjoy. But there’s an art and science to how to create the best company swag that is actually useful and drives brand awareness.
In this article, I discuss the following:
Katie Brunette is an expert event marketer and shared some of her tips and tricks on this episode of my podcast.
What is unique company swag?
Unique company swag basically are items that have the company’s branding and are handed out for free to potential customers. It helps brands stand out to those prospects and if the swag is of high quality there’s an aspect or viral marketing involved as well. There’s value in people wearing your t-shirts at conferences or around their own offices, for example.
Read next: Strategies to drive leads from conferences
Examples of good custom swag
Some backpacks companies hand out as business swag are quite useful, and I’ve kept them. I use my Adobe backpack still – six years after getting it!
Pens and notepads. I’m pretty sure all of my pens and notepads are office swag from conferences or from hotels.
Some books. There’s value in companies getting their books into swag bags, and I’ve read those books before, and even when I haven’t (yet), I end up tweeting a picture of the books. They can make good reading materials for the flight home, too, when you pick these up at conferences.
T-shirts. I’m actually a big fan of T-shirts that I can wear in the summer or at the gym. Sometimes I wear T-shirts while in the office. It depends on what’s on deck for the day! I dress for my day.
Polos. Many professional businesses now produce branded polos for employees to wear while working. The polos still look professional and are more comfortable than a button-down. One place where you can create these is Rush Order Tees, which created polos for my podcast for me.
Shoes. Getting shoes is rare, but the social media conference in western Canada where I keynoted in 2018 gave them to speakers:
I’m still planning on wearing them for other keynotes. Great publicity there for their conference and certainly a conversation starter. I also wore them for my keynote there.
Portable chargers. I love portable chargers and when companies have those in a swag bag, I often keep them around as a backup. Most of the free ones that people hand out, though, barely recharge my iPhone once. Nonetheless, they are good backups.
Hats. I do wear hats at the gym and sitting in my backyard in the summer. So there’s a chance that I might keep hats around – unless they are too cheesy.
Water bottles. I like branded water bottles, especially when they are nice. Switcher Studio’s is fantastic, for example. Here’s me unboxing it when they sent it to me.
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How to decide what swag to create?
To get us started, here’s a good example of Voxpopme swag. I would use all of these items.
The Voxpopme goodie bag works, but that’s not always a given.
I’ve played the swag bag marketing game before. And sometimes, it works to get your brand in front of people. And sometimes, people throw it away or glance over things. So what are some ideas to get the most out of our swag bag game as marketers?
As always, consider the goal! What are you trying to accomplish? If it’s conversions, will a t-shirt get you there? I doubt it. If it’s public awareness, a t-shirt with a call to action to tweet a selfie wearing it can, however.
Budget: Swag should be a certain part of your marketing budget. This marketing budget calculator can help you determine your budget line item.
Measurement. How will you know that it worked? If the goal is to get people to post selfies in your T-shirt on Twitter and Instagram, that’s relatively easy to measure. Whether or not people read the flier, not so much.
Swag bag overkill. Some bags have so much stuff in them that it’s truly hard to stand out. Flier upon flier is hardly a strategy to win people’s attention. Even if people look at them, they might spend a 1/100s of a second deciding whether or not to read further. When possible, figure out what all is going to go into a bag. And then figure out how to stand out.
Best company swag final thoughts
As a consumer, I like getting swag that is useful. Always.
As a marketer, I also look at what others do as part of their swag bag marketing. I only usually pay attention to the innovative stuff, though. 🙂
Some of the discussion on Twitter
There’s a place for swag, and well-design swag that employees and customers wear can even build a community. But, the swag needs to be of the right level of quality. I’ve received horrible T-shirts before that I would never wear. So keep all those things in mind and pick the right products that your target audience actually wants to use.