11 Ideas for Cool Giveaways

Members of Young Entrepreneur Council answer the question: What kinds of giveaways or swag are actually worth investing in before heading to an industry trade show or conference?

The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 11 successful young entrepreneurs for their best (and least obvious!) examples ofgiveaways or swag are actually worth investing in before heading to an industry trade show or conference. Heres what they said.

The best type of swag is the type that provides value. Conference attendees are on their feet all day, spending hours running around to different panels, Ive found that the best way to make a statement is to offer a branded care package, complete with aspirin, bandages, a quick snack, pen, notepad and a maybe a USB drive with your company information.–Lauren Fairbanks,Stunt & Gimmicks

Almost all vendors get pens. Tote bags can get pricey. What else is your target customer or client likely to use over and over again? I like to get bookmarks done up. They contain all the info my business card does, plus a little bit more. And because my clients are word nerds, I know its something theyll use (and see) repeatedly, for years and years.

Giveaways and swag at conferences are usually money down the drain because theyre not targeted to the individual nor do they usually help in making a sale. A safe bet is a T-shirt they usually do get worn around town, so it may generate some publicity. Or you can always just invest in an awesome grilled cheese sandwich station, a la GroupMe at SXSW.–Doreen Bloch,Poshly Inc.

Swag is expensive and bulky to carry. A hundred individually-wrapped tea bags have worked for us. We stamp our business information and a coupon on each wrapper, and the potential customers love them!–Nancy T. Nguyen,Sweet T

Every company at conferences wants to transform attendees into walking billboards for their company. Instead, think about why people are at conferences–they want to network. Give attendees a reason to network around your company or brand. Give them a way to remember people they meet, a way to keep in touch and follow up. Youll definitely be remembered.–Arielle Patrice Scott,GenJuice

Get something unique to give away that you know nobody else has seen. We usedCoffee Cerealto offer people little bags of a unique product and it worked out great. People like things that they dont see everyday.–John Hall,Digital Talent Agents

Papers get lost. Swag gets left in hotel rooms. Instead, offer something that attendees will have a harder time losing, such as a digital download. My favorite is offering a free whitepaper or eBook that can be sent around after the conference. I ask the organizers to send it out to ticket holders and offer to email it personally. That I can easily follow up later.–Thursday Bram,Hyper Modern Consulting

Trade shows serve a great purpose: to get to decision-makers fast and easy. But instead of spending money on swag, invest the money to sponsor tradeshow promotions that drive attendees to your booth, where you can collect and scan their data while speaking directly to them. Instead of leftover candy, you leave with real ammunition to drive post-event sales.–Carmen Benitez,Fetch Plus

The swag worth investing in is the type item that attendees will find useful. If youre at a conference for pet owners, give away branded leashes, or portable dog bowls. Think of the items that people at the conference will need but might have forgotten to bring, and give them that. Youll not only be a hero, but theyll remember your brand too.–Caitlin McCabe,Real Bullets Branding

From my experience, people enjoy using cases after conferences. Just dont overpromote your brand on the case, otherwise, people wont use it.–Ben Lang,EpicLaunch

Having attended my fair share of conferences and collecting hundreds of items, I can tell you that not a single giveaway has made an impact on whom I buy from or do business with. T-shirts, pens, wristbands, brochures, tote bags, USB sticks, mousepads, notebooks, candy or packs of gum are all overdone. If anything, give me a nice iPhone or iPad cover.–Matt Mickiewicz,99designs