Who doesn’t love swag? From flashlight pens to colorful t-shirts, tumblers sporting your conference logo to portable chargers with cute sayings, the “stuff” participants bring home from trade shows, conferences and events are key audience engagement and event gamification tools that can be almost as memorable as the conference itself. In fact, some conferences are known to be so swag-heavy that savvy conference participants bring a larger suitcase than they technically need just to transport home all the goodies they pick up over the course of the conference.
What kind of swag excites virtual event audiences? Keep reading for fun ideas.
Event Swag: Effective Marketing in a Nutshell
It's a given that the content and presenters at your virtual event should be key reasons for your attendees to return year after year. But the quality and quantity of the swag conference goers accumulate plays a role in attracting and retaining participants too. Smart conference managers, event sponsors, and corporate event planners understand that swag serves a variety of purposes including:
- Acts as a form of advertising that exists long after the conference itself is just a memory. Weeks, months, and even years later (if my husband’s wardrobe is any indication), people who attended that conference will still be wearing the t-shirt they obtained there, unknowingly advertising both the event itself and promoting the sponsors listed on the back of the shirt. In fact, according to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), each customized t-shirt averages 3,400 impressions with an average cost of 2/10th of a penny per impression, making event swag an appealing way to enhance your event.
- Gives participants at your conference a sense of belonging. Logo-heavy swag such as t-shirts announce to the world that the participant belongs to an elite group. It also helps them identify other people who might have the same interests or background as they do. On a related note, people love to show off where they’ve been and what they’ve learned. Sporting conference swag is a low-key and socially acceptable way of proclaiming to the world, “Hey, look at me, I was at this cool place doing this cool thing.” As naturally competitive individuals, event gamification can take this loyalty to another level.
- Boosts your conference’s bottom line. The money spent at your conference’s swag store brings in additional funds for your conference budget. Even generic swag store items—from basic toiletries to small toys to give to the kids—have the added effect of making things more convenient for your attendees. When using a virtual event platform or virtual event software, the availability of conference swag helps the event feel more like the in-person event the conference goers may be craving.
What are Some Virtual Swag Ideas?
With so many conferences moving to a virtual-only format or a hybrid format (which consists of some people on location and others attending remotely), you may be wondering if there is an opportunity for a virtual swag store hosted via a Virtual Conference Platform like MeetingPlay's. The answer is an enthusiastic yes! Not only can MeetingPlay host your virtual event, but we also have ideas of what you should put in a swag store to best optimize and gamify your event’s potential outreach. Some of the swag ideas below can be delivered electronically, some require actual delivery services. All have the added advantage of being tools to engage your attendees and make the event, whether attended on a virtual conference platform, or in-person, memorable long after the event itself is on the record books.
- Illustrated Meeting Notes
No matter what your interests are, you’ve got to admit that the illustrated meeting notes are intriguing. As a visual representation of a particular presentation, this type of digital download can be saved as a screensaver, posted on social media platforms, blown up into a poster, or printed out and hung on a bulletin board. It has the additional advantage of being able to be delivered digitally in multiple formats. And it can include the names of your highest profile presenters and sponsors. In short, illustrated meeting notes are an easy, inexpensive, and visually appealing way to get the word out about all the great information that was presented at your conference. Check out Ink Factory Studio as a service provider.
- Snack Boxes
Sitting at home with your feet up listening to world-class speakers talk about the opportunities, issues, and challenges facing your industry sounds like an ideal situation to many people. What could make it better? Snacks (Healthy snacks, of course!). Your swag store could include a box of branded snacks that event participants can send to themselves or have delivered to other attendees as a gift to use during the virtual event. When planned in advance, event gamification can be an effective engagement tool.
Celebrities are doing paid call-outs so why not your presenters? Research has shown that younger event attendees enjoy interactive or gamified event experiences over physical stuff, so it makes sense that these attendees might relish having a presenter they’ve admired send them a personalized message. An added bonus to callouts is that the presenters themselves might enjoy the chance to make some extra money as well as the opportunity to connect with some of their biggest fans. Birthdays, anniversaries, and promotions are all great reasons for a paid shout out and successful websites such as Cameo prove the market for this type of experience is hot.
What’s small, easy-to-ship, easy-to brand, inexpensive, and useful long after the conference is over? Earbuds, of course. What also gets eaten by pets, destroyed by kids, and left at the gym? You guessed it, earbuds again. Many of us have a love-hate relationship with our earbuds and a new pair is always welcome. Branding the case that the earbuds come in can make the earbuds in your virtual conference swag store a must have add-on for attendees registering for a conference using an online event platform.
T-shirts are still worth mentioning here. To make your wearable swag more appealing consider referencing the reason for the virtual-ness of the conference with logos that include lines such as “the one where we were quarantined.” Tired of t-shirts? Upgrade your swag offering to an anti-theft backpack.
- Fidget Spinners
Yes, that's right! You may think these have fallen out of style but they are surprisingly fun for kids and adults alike. Don't knock them until you try them!
- Cool Tech Stuff
If your event caters to developers and techies, think keyboards, cameras, video games, smart speakers, and even big-ticket items like laptops and drones incentivizing overall event participation.
- Free Dinner
Who doesn't like free dinner when you don't have to cook it yourself? Make it free dinner for a week and watch your attendees line up for this awesome giveaway.
- Gift Cards
At first glance, an Amazon gift card may seem boring but keep in mind that the average person spends $600 a year on the site. In the pandemic era, more and more people are turning to online shopping for groceries, household items, clothing, and more.
Want more swag ideas? Check out this blog on other giveaways, unique products to brand, and more!
A word of advice: Know your audience and be sure to offer swag that will be meaningful and relevant to them. Finally, remember when you tie swag with points-based gamification or a contest, you win in more ways than one. Your attendees will love you for giving them the swag they want but you’ll also increase attendee engagement and drive behaviors that will help you meet your conference or event goals. Now that’s ROI!
Ready to create your virtual swag store and drive engagement with event gamification? Contact MeetingPlay today!