Every company should have branded promotional items to give prospects and clients. If you want them to remember you and buy from you, then they need to be using something with your logo on it every day. Lately, my clients have been saying they need to update their swag bag.

When I thought about how often I hear the word swag I got to wondering, where did that come from? It seems more prevalent that in past years. Before, people would say they needed promo items, tchotchkes or an ad specialty item. But today, it’s swag!

Swag Bags are a Company Necessity

In doing a bit of research I discovered that “swag” used to refer to a bag that a thief would use to transport their stolen goods. For some reason in the 1960’s swag became a bag containing items given away for promotional purposes.

Give quality branded promotional items to prospects and clients to keep you top of mind.

Today a swag bag is a necessity for every business and successful event. It may be given out at a conference, a trade show, a holiday party or other big event. A company may also use them to simply say thank you for doing business with them. As a matter of fact, we typically bring a swag bag to each meeting we have with a client.

Our swag bag includes a better than average tote bag (it’s not a grocery tote style bag), a notebook, pen, and depending on the client we may also include a wireless charging pad, silicone straw (plastic straws are banned all over South Florida) or even a flashlight. We change up our swag bag several times a year to keep it fresh with new branded items for our clients and prospects.

Gain Recognition with Swag

A swag bag is also used by many charity events to gain more exposure for their sponsors (and raise more money). For most of these programs, the sponsors donate items for the swag bag that promote their business or product. The primary purpose is to gain recognition of their brand as well as recognition of their support of the cause.

For charity events the items included in a swag bag are generally in line with the event. For example, a golf tournament would most likely include items someone would use on the golf course. Golf balls, golf towel, ball markers to name a few.

Of course, we are all familiar with the famed swag bags that are given each year at the Academy Awards. For the 2019 Academy Awards the swag bag was valued at more than $148,000! They only do 25 bags for the A-listers. And typically, one person declines the bag. As a matter of fact, one-year Glenn Close donated her bag to a woman’s charity.

In this particular instance the term swag bag is not really accurate. Because there are so many items they are typically delivered in multiple shipments over a period of a couple of weeks. But the idea is the same, providing branded items to remind these A listers who and what the sponsors offer.

Make the Swag Bag Relevant

I would think that most companies have participated in a swag bag at an event. We have provided

Your company swag program needs to be developed as an integral part of your overall marketing strategy.

many items for charity golf tournaments over the years (yes, I am a golfer). So, it’s easy for me to choose something that I know a golfer will use. That’s the key to success for any swag.

If you don’t have a way of thanking your clients for their time or introducing someone to your company, you might want to consider developing a corporate swag bag. We are all inundated with messaging from our phones and social media. Marketing swag can be an effective means of keeping your name and/or brand in front of your customers and prospects.

Swag Needs to be Useful

We like to recommend useful items and items that will take up real estate on a person’s desk. Today, out of sight is out of mind and you want to stay top of mind.

While we are discussing a lot about swag bags, swag doesn’t always have to be given as a group of branded items. It can be just one good item.

Marketing swag should be a part of every company’s marketing plan. Because as we said before, it is the one piece of advertising that you can give to a client or prospect that they say thank you for!

Swag is a Reflection of Your Brand

Quality of the items you give out will speak volumes about your brand.

You company swag can be inexpensive and be useful and of good quality. You never want to give away a low-quality item that will reflect poorly on your brand. If your budget is limited, then we recommend you buy less of a better-quality item and be more strategic about who receives the marketing swag.

When you first start to develop your company swag ideas you want to make sure you are looking at items that will appeal to your target customer. Technology items are typically a big hit. It tells the recipient that you are forward thinking and staying on top of trends not only in your industry but in business in general.

And there are techy type items that are useful and yet not expensive. There are wallets that adhered to the back of your smart phone, charging cables, webcam covers and screen cleaners to name a few.

Own the Desk Real Estate

We are currently adding a new item to our marketing swag. It’s a wireless charging pad. But this

Technology items are a popular branded promotional item.

one works like an easel. All you do is lean your phone on the easel and your phone charges! And, when not in use my logo will be in full view on a person’s desk. Good desk real estate and provides a constant reminder of us.

Again, quality is key no matter what you do. You don’t want to go cheap on a pen and pay pennies less when it may have a 30% breakage rate (not writing). Yes, I have had clients that just didn’t want to pay the $.38 for a pen because they found one on-line for $.35. Unfortunately, they learned the hard way that you get what you pay for. As it turned out, more than 30% of the pens didn’t write! Not a good brand message to be sending and a waste of the money they did spend.

When trying to determine what might work best for your marketing swag, we recommend a few keys items. There is no set limit as to the number of items in your swag closet, but you do want more than one item. And again, less can be more. We recommend fewer quality items instead a lot of little inexpensive items.

Company Swag Ideas

Depending on the budget, if you are developing your company swag ideas, some of the items most often included are:

  • Journal/notebook
  • Bag – grocery totes are still very popular
  • Tumbler that keeps beverages cold or hot for hours
  • Pen
  • Something techy – charging cables are very popular right now
  • Smart phone accessory
  • And some people are going toward more eco-friendly products like the reusable silicone or stainless-steel straws

A theme can also determine your swag ideas. We are working with one client that has a “food for thought” theme. We are putting together a wide variety of food themed ideas for their review. From Chip clips to measuring spoons to a jar opener to a four in one kitchen tool and a cutting board; all to be packaged in an insulated grocery tote for a great “Food Swag Bag”.

Another client requested suggestions for a travel theme. They specialize in incentive trips for corporate clients. Typically, these incentive trips are to fun or exotic locations.

We have recommended an RFID (radio frequency identification blocker – so your credit card and personal information can’t be scanned and stolen) passport wallet, a journal that holds your smartphone (and has an RFID pocket), tape measure (for measuring event spaces), and a toiletry bag. All of this is packaged in a great duffel that folds into its pocket for easy packing.

Obviously, this is an expensive swag bag. But they only give these to prospects that they have been wooing for an upcoming big trip or those they are visiting to finalize the contract.

As you can see, your swag is a reflection of you and needs to be treated as such. Make the time to review options and determine what would work best for your brand.

Danette Gossett

Danette brings more than 30 years of experience developing advertising campaigns, direct marketing programs and sales promotions to her clients. Prior to starting her companies, she worked for New York advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi & Lowe Marschalk.

Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More

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