My favorite part of any trade show has to be the swag – the free stuff that virtually every company is handing out at their booth. I have been to a few trade shows and found myself coming home with a woven bag filled with all sorts of things, from branded pens to an ice scraper for my car.

I love getting free stuff as it is, and I know I am definitely not alone. This is one reason why companies offer swag at their booth – they know people will come to their booth if they are offering something free.

An even bigger reason though, is to help you remember them. According to an article on HubSpot, one way to build a remarkable trade show booth is by dominating the swag race. The author notes that “investing in promotional items that are as unique and as high quality as your offering is the key.”

In a conference center full of hundreds of companies, it is very difficult to stand out. By offering something to take home besides a business card, companies are hoping for the chance to be remembered.

Although it is nice to receive free trinkets, giving trade show swag is a true art form, and there are a number of features companies should consider when choosing swag.

1. Relevant.

Companies should consider swag as a calling card for their brand. Potential prospects will be receiving so many business cards that it is necessary to provide them with a little something extra. A great way to do this is through a company-branded gift that is relevant to the purpose of the company. For example, automotive companies may want to hand out something auto-related such as a car safety kit or an auto air freshener in the shape of a car. If it is something to be used in the car, anyone receiving that piece of swag will be more likely to remember that your company is associated with the auto industry.

2. Unique.

To make your company stand out, the swag you give needs to be different. A recent article from Quality Logo Products, a seller of promotional items, states, “The more unique the item, the more memorable it will be.” Unique items they suggest include color-changing cups and action hero-themed PEZ dispensers. While these items are off-the-wall, being unique does not need to be ridiculous. Offering visitors to your booth something like a miniature version of your newest product would be very unique while still staying relevant to your brand.

3. Portable.

This should go without saying that people walking around a trade show floor typically spend hours on their feet. They will not want to be encumbered with heavy products they need to lug around the showroom floor. Swag given at trade show booths are usually small, but there are companies that like to hand out heavy folders full of brochures or a large paperweight that visitors are meant to place on their desks at work. Instead of your large gesture being seen as thoughtful, people will resent your swag and only remember how they had to carry such a heavy item all through the showroom floor. When creating swag, compact and portable is always best.

In addition to these guidelines, another HubSpot article gives examples of good and bad swag in this article. Definitely worth checking out!

What types of swag have you received at trade shows? What was memorable and what did you trash immediately? Let me know in the comments!


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