Thursday, August 1, 2013

Conference Swag Ideas: Break From the Norm

Great swag items are a terrific way to get attendees to stop at your trade show booth. 

If you really want to make an impact, the traditional route of giving away pens and cell phone stands just won’t cut it anymore. The best conference swag ideas provide value to the attendee while contributing to the exposure of your brand.

Here are some of the better ideas I've come across:

Conference Swag Ideas that Work

Micro Fiber Cloths

Trade show swag microfiber cloth
This micro-fiber cloth from SimpleRelevance fits easily in
your wallet, putting your logo in front of customers
over and over again. That's great conference swag.
Micro fiber clothes are an inexpensive way to work your brand into someone’s everyday life.  

It’s amazing what a little convenience can do to assure someone carries your item with you for the long term. Go for the small kind that fold up and fit in a small plastic container,assuring easy entry to an attendee’s pocket.


Conference attendees spend days running to panels and networking with colleagues. While most shows provide food, a small pick-me-up can go a long way. By offering branded candy bars or mints you will be a lifesaver in the eyes of a once hungry attendee.

Anything with sugar is sure to attract attention and raise the best question someone can ask on an exhibit floor: “Where’s the booth that has THAT?”


The best conference swag ideas are the kind an attendee will use more than once. Bags make a great reusable item, and are often available in eco-friendly materials. Two great choices are drawstring backpacks and reusable grocery bags. 

Not only is a bag useful for carrying conference swag during the event, but also when an attendee goes to the hotel gym or grocery shopping after the event.  


By preparing ahead of time, you can be the lifesaver of an event. Keep a stock of collapsible branded umbrellas and check the weather forecast before heading to a conference. Look like rain? Send some umbrellas to keep everyone dry. Attendees will be grateful and likely to strike up a conversation when they see representatives from your company around the conference.

Digital Items

Sometimes the best conference swag isn’t physical at all. Have a stock of cards with a QR code or a website on them where attendees can get coupons or discounts for digital items such as music downloads or a free set of Moo business cards

If you’re real sly, you can even prepare the cards to say something about your company and the conference.  You can build your email lists with an opt-in step in the process.

Social Items

Gimmicky items serve a purpose if the strategy around them is smart. Create a branded hashtag for the event, and have attendees tweet pictures with your item while using the hashtag to be entered in a drawing for a prize, like an iPad

Imagine hundreds or thousands of pictures online of conference attendees wearing your branded sunglasses while tweeting, “Rocking my [Your Company Name] shades at [Conference name]! #BrandedCompanyHashtag.” Sunglasses are a great example for this kind of strategy, but other items like hats work as well.

By providing swag items conference attendees will enjoy and use in the future, you assure a long-lasting connection with your brand. The best swag is the kind that provides value to both parties, and is well worth the investment. What are some examples of effective conference swag that you’ve encountered?

Justin Reynolds is an experienced Marketing Manager and Social Media Strategist who has coordinated corporate representation at local and international conferences and expos around the world.