I LOVE SWAG! There, I have said it. I have received tons of practical corporate event gifts during the past 34 years that I have been in business. One of my favorite parts of walking up to the registration desk at a conference is anticipating what gifts they might be giving out this year. I love good quality, practical gifts that I know I will use and keep (e.g. portable battery packs to charge your cell phone). In this week’s Event Consulting series, we look at gifting, corporate event gifts and giveaways. 

Planning Your Corporate Event Gifts & Giveaways

Using promotional products as giveaways is a tried and true marketing technique. However, hosting a lousy giveaway can easily be ignored or damage your brand. Who remembers getting dozens of branded stress balls or cheap pens.

Planning for a giveaway should be part of your overall marketing strategy and thought out well. This can be overwhelming, so here is everything you need to know when planning your corporate event gifts and themed giveaways.

First of all, let’s talk about the difference between corporate event gifts and themed giveaways. Themed giveaways are related to your theme and are typically an item connected to the event concept. For example, I once created a forest theme for an Architect Firm, and they gave away saplings in burlap with branded tags. On the other hand, corporate event gifts, or “swag” as it is commonly known, are any products given away for free, typically for a promotional purpose. 

So when do you use corporate event gifts, and when do you use themed giveaways? Here are some questions you should ask yourself first.

What is the purpose of this giveaway? What do you hope to achieve?

The most common use of “swag” and giveaways at an event is to promote a brand. Often these products are mistakenly treated as an afterthought. An effective swag product is an excellent opportunity to stand out from the crowd and amplify your event brand and brand messaging.

Another question to ask yourself is how can the giveaway fit into my messaging for the event? For example, does your event have a theme? If so, then your giveaway might work to bring this messaging alive. For instance, if your event has an ’80s theme, a custom Rubik’s cube would be a fun giveaway.

event gifts and giveaways

How is the SWAG being given away?

Once you have determined the purpose and goal of your corporate event gift aka SWAG, you will have to think about how the items will end up in your guests’ hands. I usually offer the gift for my events as guests depart the event, so they do not have to carry the item around with them throughout the event. However, some people are concerned that there will be a shortage (never at my events!), so they grab a giveaway upon check-in.

Often at our events, our themed giveaways are part of an activity. For example, we have offered undecorated Christmas Tree ornaments, unpainted pottery, plain Mardi Gras masks, etc. In addition, we set up decorating stations throughout the event, where guests can decorate their gifts at their leisure. So what could be better than your own branded giveaway that you created?

Some common mistakes made when selecting giveaways for your event

The most common mistake I have made over the past three decades is that people order swag that THEY like or want. They do not think about the customer experience. It may look pretty or be expensive, but will your guests value the giveaway the way you do? My suggestion is to take the time to learn about your attendees. Who are they, and what do they do? Then, select a valuable item that makes sense to your guests. For example, if you have a bunch of construction workers at your event, do not give them desk employee items. 

The second mistake I see repeatedly is that people take the easy way out on giveaway selections and order pens, key chains, water bottles, etc. Their reasoning, I believe, is that they think everyone uses these items, so they are helpful. But what they are not realizing is that we have too many of these things already!

Sharon’s Tip: SWAG can be a great incentive for guest participation in your event. So be sure to give away items that get your guests excited.

I have been producing events for three decades and have a wealth of knowledge and experience. If you are looking for more guidance on choosing the perfect corporate event gift for your next event, the Bright Ideas team will help you! Head to our contact us page and fill out a quote request form to start!

best corporate event gifts

Follow along with this 10-part event consulting series below:

  1. Introducing the Event Consulting Series
  2. Event Consulting vs. Event Producing
  3. Activities for your Virtual Event
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