How To's

Swag Bags: 5 Insider Tips To Make Them Count

Image credit: tdeckard2000 | Flickr
Image credit: tdeckard2000 | Flickr

Whether you’re hosting an open house, new product launch or customer appreciation event, swag bags are an important way to enhance the experience and give attendees something to remember long after the event ends.

If you don’t think swag bags are big business, then you must have missed all the news coverage on the 2015 Academy Award Gift Bags that were valued at $168,000. The bags included an impressive array of incredible perks, such as free Silvercar Audi rentals for a year, as well as a “$12,500 glamping vacation from Terravelo Tours, a train trip on the Rocky Mountaineer, a nine-night Italian vacation package valued at $11,500, $4,000 worth of liposuction, a $1,200 Matrone bicycle, non-invasive L.E.D. light therapy, and $25,000 of custom furniture perfect for giving their Malibu pad a special look,” according to this Vanity Fair article. Now that’s some swag!

While wildly extravagant (and expensive!) swag bags are something typically only savored by Hollywood A-listers, there is a lesson to be learned for companies both large and small: Swag bags are a memorable tool that, when done right, will have a lasting impression for your brand.

So how can you make your swag bags really count with recipients? Marketing consultant Allie Gray Freeland offers five tips via Entrepreneur:

1. Create Digital Swag Bags

Digital swag bags are hot for both tech companies and those who want to have a presence in the digital space. The only drawback: Digital swag doesn’t have the same staying power as traditional branded merchandise.

So instead of going completely electronic, support your digital swag with tangible gifts that direct recipients back online.

Emperor-Power-Bank-KitA power bank + charger gift set puts your logo in recipients hands at home and on the go. Since the power bank is engraved, the charger is silk-screened and the case is debossed, your logo has three times the impact of just a single product.

Opper-Fiber-Table-CleanerIf you want to make a visual impact, go for a four-color cleaning cloth to draw attention to your digital offerings. Recipients will get a vivid reminder of your brand story every time they clean their tablet or ebook reader.


Virtual-Reality-Paper-GogglesAnd if you want to delve into the world of virtual reality, you’ll need these Google Cardboard viewers—imprinted with your logo, of course—so recipients always remember your brand while visiting their fave VR worlds.

2. Make Your Swag Bag Newsworthy

While most swag bags aren’t likely to make headlines like those given at Oscars, the key for your gift bags is to design them with unique items. Products that will create buzz with recipients. Something they haven’t seen before. Perhaps even something they may not splurge on for themselves but would really love to have. Or maybe it’s something fun that gets the entire group of attendees involved.

Temporary-TattooTake temporary tattoos. In the past, you needed water to apply, making them impractical for easy use during an event. But there’s a new line of custom temporary tattoos that are produced using 3M™ hypoallergenic medical tape, patented state-of-the-art digital printing and sophisticated die-cutting techniques for amazing logo reproduction. And you simply peel and stick to apply. Easy!

You can also include a promotion card with the tattoos that gives more details about your company. And if you want to include a social media component, include your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook profiles so event attendees can post selfies wearing the tattoos. And make sure to include an event hashtag so everyone can follow along—and comment!—creating even more buzz.

3. Avoid Junk

The key to any promotional marketing campaign is to offer items that are meaningful, functional and relevant. “To avoid meaningless goodies, set a goal that you want the swag item or bag to achieve, and ensure everything in the bag helps achieve that goal,” writes Grey Freeland. We couldn’t agree more.

We do disagree, however, with her assessment that koozies, pens, tote bags and t-shirts are junk.

“Junk” is something that has no value to the receiving audience—and this can be any product category at any price. Conversely, any product can be meaningful when done correctly under the right circumstances to the right audiences. And this includes koozies, pens tote bags and t-shirts.

So before choosing any product, put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What are their demographics and psychographics? What are their needs and wants? What do they value? Only then can you select items that will uniquely speak to them.

4. Keep The Desk In Mind

Desktop real estate isn’t easy to acquire, so if you want your brand to stand out in this coveted space, you better make the products both useful and unique. Color is one way to stand out. Also look for collections so you can add pieces over time in a continuity program.

Up-Your-Standard-Blue-DeskThese desk sets are offered in bright blue, citron, grass green, gray, orange, pink, purple, red, royal blue and white. Check out the tape dispenser, stapler, mug, pen cup, tray, utility pouch, laptop sleeve, dual tumbler and large lunch tote. The way these items coordinate—and keep all your office essentials organized—would make Martha Stewart proud.

5. Make It Personal

“The key to improving your bags is to make them an integral part of the overall event strategy,” says Grey Freeland. Agreed!

In fact, strategic plans play a vital role in any promotional marketing campaign you do. They not only help you save time and money but also create message cohesion and improve program creativity. Building a strategy into your marketing plans from the beginning also allows you to better target your audience, separate yourself from the competition and determine ROI to keep you on track. Plus, you also have better product selection and can even develop custom items to really get your audience’s attention. And a strategic plan helps you execute your campaign to perfection.

(For more on strategic plans, read our three-part series beginning here.)

Add Some Wow

Whatever branded merchandise you include in your swag bags, having the wow factor is critical. Items with high perceived value, and a cool edge, have the best chance of being kept and repeatedly used—giving you the branding recall, staying power and repeat exposure your marketing campaigns demand. Promotional products work. Here’s proof. But only when done right.

Above all else, Grey Freeland says to ask yourself this question: “Will people bring home the items in my swag bag?” If so, you’ve found branding success.


Want to create swag bags that will have recipients buzzing before, during and after your event? We can help. Book an appointment by clicking here or call us now at 248-538-4700 to learn how. Mention the blog, and we’ll send you some SMART Swag that will get you buzzing!