Are Your Trade Show Giveaways Creating a Brand Disconnect?

July 01, 2015

Are Your Trade Show Giveaways Creating a Brand Disconnect?

UPDATED October 2020
Both these examples of trade show giveaways were obviously pre-pandemic when trade shows were the thing. We are consistently hearing our clients say they believe trade shows will be back in 2021. Our customers believe the same things apply if you're sending virtual swag boxes/bags for virtual conferences. Quality matters. Details count. 

A tech writer I’m connected with on Twitter posted her branded merchandise takeaways, aka 'schwag' or 'swag', from a trade show she was attending. I tweeted and asked what she was keeping and what she was dumping.

Keep list: Bottle opener, tote bag, journal, sunglasses, flashlight, mints
Dump list: Several cheap pens, microfiber cleaning cloth, t-shirt,screen cleaner

Another social media connection, a popular high-traffic blogger who attended SXSW in Austin, posted a similar photo of his trade show swag. I asked the same question: what made it back home?

Keep list: Mobile phone charger, logoed USB drive, stylus pen, backpack, t-shirt, screen cleaner

Dump list: pink tote bag, cheap flashlight, bad-tasting breath mints, plastic pens, sunglasses


What does this tell you about the promotional products that are right for your brand? Details count.

The tech writer kept sunglasses and the SXSW attendee dumped a pair. From looking at the pictures, I can tell you the dumped pair was dollar store variety and the pair kept were in a great case, but not sure of pricing. The pair in the case could have been junk, but the perceived value was higher because of the case.

A flashlight, tote bag, screen cleaning cloth, or pens can all be great giveaways.
So why did some hit the trashcan while others stayed in the prospects’ hands?

The answer: Quality. There are lots of choices when walking the trade show floor.

When you get back to your room, it’s like sorting Halloween candy -- you’re going to keep the ‘creme de la creme’. 

Your goal should be to have useful promotional items that enhance your brand and will make it back to the office or homes of your clients and prospects -- not to the trash can or recycling bin. You want virtual event swag and trade show giveaways that get in your prospects/clients everyday lives. In other words, this swag will be used.

If your brand’s items or services aren’t cheap, your trade show giveaways and virtual event swag shouldn’t give that impression either.

A plastic mobile charger that will barely charge an old iPhone may be budget friendly, but is a brand disconnect if you’re selling six figure priced computer software, are an executive level recruiting firm or a top university’s MBA program.


Contact us for a free 15 minute branded giveaways consultation.  888.553.9569 or email sales at PROMOrx dot com

Author: Vickie MacFadden, the owner. I'm a tell it like it is Southerner who loves apple butter (when there's enough cinnamon), Tesla and SpaceX and the color purple. I'm into details which is a huge asset when assisting your company in finding the perfect company swag!