Nearly every industry in modern business has conventions where businesses and professionals gather to promote their brand, swap trade secrets, and learn about the latest innovations in their field. There are conventions where anyone can buy a booth space, invite-only conventions, conventions just for upper management, and open conventions where any industry professional can buy a ticket. Conventions are one of the great joys and opportunity bonanzas of modern business.
And no matter what kind of convention you’re attending, one thing is consistent in every single one: The Swag. When a company sets up a booth, they inevitably also come with a few boxes of goodies to give away for free or to sell like a gift shop. Whether it’s T-shirts, pens, or keychains there is always some branded goodie that can be handed to convention attendees to promote brand awareness in a tangible way that will help everyone remember the quick handshake and introductions later on.
But how do you make your convention swag stand out? How can you create a stronger positive impression with other professionals you meet? And how can you ensure that your branded swag stays on their desk or in their closet longer than the other stuff at the convention? Here’s how we do it:
The first step is to think beyond the branded pen. Everyone already has a pen, or they could pick up a hundred different pens just walking the convention. You need to offer something that is not only unique but will find it’s way into pockets and laptop bags and never be left behind again. You need something useful.
Useful technology is the key to having your brand remembered positively at an industry convention. Instead of offering pens (or in addition, pens are expected after all), try offering something professionals in your industry really need. A laser pointer/flashlight/level, for instance, is useful for any field service industry. And a portable USB backup battery is useful for absolutely everyone.
USB flash drives are currently all the rage but are also becoming as common as the click-pen. Instead, hand out portable hard drives, noise-canceling headphones, and other things that slip into a laptop bag and become a key part of each professional’s traveling tech gear. Your brand will then become an unforgettable part of their life.
Anyone and everyone can print up a few large T-shirts and baseball caps, and most professionals expect to walk out with a few additional oversized branded shirts. But how often will they actually look at, appreciate, or even wear these shirts after the convention? At best, they become laundry day fare or given to children for art projects. Eventually, they will be donated to charity to empty a closet and forgotten forever.
Instead of going the old boring route, get clever. Look for ways to offer truly flattering apparel instead. If you can choose branded apparel that convention-goers actually want to wear, your brand becomes a permanent part of their closet. Instead of t-shirts, try polo shirts or even dress shirts. Offer a blouse design or two for the ladies, or even a blazer that would flatter anyone.
In fact, you can go even more practical than that with things like comfy branded socks, cool polarized sunglasses, and other things people wear every day but won’t feel odd wearing a branded item to work later on.
Or you can go the complete opposite direction. Rather than offering practical and flattering business-casual attire, get silly instead. People come to conventions for work reasons, but they expect to have a little fun. Rather than being serious, get silly and offer a small selection of ridiculously fun branded hats.