Back in the days or yore, before we had always-on communication and video conferencing without horrific artefacts, conferences were a big deal. Without any other way to hobnob with the industry masses, conference goers put up with long flights, pricey accommodations and packed schedules.
Tradeshows, recognizing this captive audience, used giveaways as a way to entice attendees to remember their products. As this practice became more prevalent, swag (Stuff We All Get or just conference giveaways available to all) became quite a perk. We’ve seen bags made of bicycle tires, coats good enough to be worn for years, and enough iPods to fulfill a Christmas rush.
No doubt swag is a great SECONDARY benefit to event attendance, but with travel expenses going up and alternatives to in-person events becoming better and better, having swag just to give stuff away isn’t enough. And really, how many branded pens, iPod shuffles, and t-shirts made to fit no one do conference goers really need?
When it comes to providing swag at events we run or participate in, we’ve found that buying fewer, high-quality items works better than many, smaller giveaways. Think shirts you’d actually wear, pens with GREAT grip, snazzy hats or sweatshirts built to handle more than a slight breeze.
But none of that compares to the exposure opportunity presenting content can provide. We’d rather spend our money on event sponsorships that allow us stage time or networking event recognition, and have found that this kind of exposure is far more cost efficient. And if you have great content, loading it up onto USB drives or cheap cloud storage options and giving those away seems a far better deal for both parties.
The next time you’re looking to provide swag, ask yourself these two questions:
1) is it worth carrying home
2) is it worth shipping somewhere?
If yes, we’d love to see what you have to offer.
If not, we’ll hopefully see you on stage.