Why Do Companies Use Trade Show Giveaways at Events?

Mallory Haines
January 10, 2024

In the world of advertising, businesses are always looking for smart ways to get noticed, reach the right people, and make a strong impression. This includes using interesting ideas like events and experiences to get attention. 

One such strategy that has gained significant popularity is using tradeshow giveaways at events. Whether it's trade shows, conferences, or product launches, branded giveaways have become an integral part of modern marketing efforts. In this blog, we'll look at the reasons why companies invest in event swag and how it plays a big role in their overall marketing strategy.

The Power of Event Marketing

Before we dive into the world of event swag, let's briefly touch upon event marketing itself.

What is event marketing?

Event marketing involves creating, organizing, and promoting events to engage with current and potential customers, partners, and industry influencers. These events can vary widely, ranging from trade shows and conferences to exclusive product launches and networking events. Regardless of the type, the primary goal of event marketing is to foster meaningful interactions that lead to brand growth and business success.

According to 99 Firms, 79% of marketers in the US use events to boost sales, and 31% of marketers consider events to be the most effective marketing channel. So much so, in fact, that the global events industry is projected to reach $2.3 billion by 2026.

What does "company swag" mean? 

Company swag, also known as branded merchandise or promotional items, encompasses products adorned with a company's logo or branding. This assortment includes items like t-shirts, branded socks, pens, hats, and tote bags, among others. Organizations integrate corporate swag into their marketing approach to amplify brand exposure and cultivate a favorable company atmosphere.

Branded merchandise leaves a distinctive mark on both customers and employees, making a lasting and favorable impact. According to Sage, 80% of consumers have at least one promotional product, 53% use a promotional product at least once a week and 60% keep their promotional products for up to two years!

Blurry shot of trade show attendees and exhibitors in the aisle of a trade show with an orange carpet and several trade show booths

The Role of Company Giveaways in Event Marketing

1. Enhancing Attendee Engagement

Trade show swag acts as a magnet, attracting attendees to your booth or event space. It serves as an icebreaker, initiating conversations and interactions. A well-designed corporate giveaway can spark curiosity and draw attendees in, creating opportunities for deeper engagement. In fact, 99% of people say that they’re willing to go out of their way to get a promotional product, and that includes visiting your trade show booth.

2. Extending Brand Visibility

Imagine attendees walking around wearing your branded t-shirts or using your company-branded pens. Each time someone interacts with your swag, your brand gains exposure because 60% or more recipients of promotional products will look the brand up online later. The best giveaways for trade shows turn attendees into walking advertisements, spreading your brand's visibility far beyond the event itself.

3. Creating Positive Associations

Thoughtful and high-quality swag creates positive associations with your brand. 72% of people say that a brand’s reputation is reflected in the quality of the promotional items for trade shows they receive. When attendees receive items that are useful, relevant, or aesthetically pleasing, they subconsciously associate those positive feelings with your company. This can lead to increased brand loyalty and affinity.

4. Fostering Relationships

Conference swag can serve as a conversation starter. When attendees visit your booth to grab a conference giveaway, it provides your team with an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations. Additionally, 85% of people who are given a promotional item will remember the advertiser that gave it to them. These interactions can lay the foundation for building lasting relationships with potential clients, partners, and collaborators.

Choosing the Best Trade Show Giveaways

Effective event giveaways are not just about putting your logo on items; they're about creating a memorable experience for your audience. Here are some key considerations when selecting event swag:

1. Relevance and Usefulness

Choose trade show promotional items that align with your audience's preferences and needs. Practical items like branded notebooks, eco-friendly water bottles, or tech accessories are often well-received.

2. Unique and Memorable Design

Design matters. Your swag should stand out and leave a lasting impression. Creative and visually appealing designs enhance your brand's recall value.

3. Quality and Durability

Invest in high-quality items. The best conference swag not only reflects positively on your brand but also ensures that your giveaways have a longer lifespan, extending their promotional impact.

4. Brand Alignment

Your trade show giveaway ideas should align with your brand's identity, values, and messaging. Consistency in branding reinforces recognition and trust.

5. Practicality and Sustainability

Consider sustainability in your swag choices. Eco-friendly options not only show your commitment to the environment but also resonate with conscious consumers.

Examples of using social media for trade show booth promotion: a layer of three screenshots of Instagram posts from various businesses and influencers

Maximizing the Impact of Trade Show Giveaways

To make the most of your event swag strategy, consider the following practices at trade shows and conferences:

1. Pre-Event Teasers

Generate excitement before the event by teasing your swag on social media or through email campaigns. Teasers create anticipation and motivate attendees to visit your booth.

2. On-Site Engagement Strategies

Incorporate interactive elements such as games, contests, or demonstrations that tie into your giveaways. This encourages attendees to spend more time at your booth, leading to deeper interactions.

3. Social Media Integration

Encourage attendees to share photos of your swag on social media using event-specific hashtags. User-generated content amplifies your brand's online presence.

4. Post-Event Follow-Up

Continue engaging after the event by sending personalized follow-up emails. Express gratitude for attendees' visit and provide additional value through resources or offers.

Navigating Swag Ideas for Events: Overcoming Potential Drawbacks

In the dynamic realm of event marketing, custom swag—branded merchandise—plays a vital role in leaving a lasting impression on attendees and bolstering brand visibility. However, as with any strategy, there are potential pitfalls that event organizers and marketers need to be aware of. Let’s explore the possible drawbacks of ordering custom swag for events and offer practical solutions to ensure your swag strategy yields the best results.

Drawback 1: Overspending on Swag

One of the most common pitfalls is overspending on custom swag. With the excitement of creating impressive giveaways, it's easy to lose sight of budget constraints.

Solution: Establish a Clear Budget Early On

Before delving into the swag creation process, define a well-structured budget. Determine how much you're willing to allocate for each type of swag item. This early planning will help you make informed decisions and avoid overspending.

Drawback 2: Irrelevant or Low-Quality Swag

Distributing swag that doesn't resonate with attendees or is of subpar quality can leave a negative impression rather than a positive one.

Solution: Know Your Audience and Prioritize Quality

Conduct thorough audience research to understand their preferences and needs. Invest in high-quality items that align with your brand and provide value to attendees. Thoughtful, useful swag goes a long way in creating a positive impact.

Drawback 3: Lack of Integration with Branding

Using swag that doesn't align with your brand's identity or messaging can lead to confusion and dilution of your branding efforts.

Solution: Maintain Brand Consistency

Ensure that your custom swag is in line with your brand's visual identity, color palette, and tone. Consistency in branding enhances recognition and reinforces your message.

Drawback 4: Limited Post-Event Engagement

Handing out swag without a plan for post-event engagement can diminish the long-term impact of your efforts.

Solution: Incorporate Follow-Up Strategies

Include QR codes or unique URLs on your swag items that lead attendees to valuable post-event content or special offers. This keeps the engagement alive beyond the event.

Drawback 5: Environmental Concerns

In the age of sustainability, distributing swag that is not eco-friendly can harm your brand's reputation and contribute to waste.

Solution: Opt for Sustainable Options

Choose eco-friendly swag items made from recycled or biodegradable materials. Embrace reusable items that align with sustainable practices and resonate with conscious consumers.

Drawback 6: Limited Creativity

Choosing generic swag items can make your brand forgettable and fail to stand out in a crowded event space.

Solution: Infuse Creativity into Your Swag Selection

Brainstorm creative and unique swag ideas that tie into your brand's message or event theme. Creative swag sets your brand apart and encourages attendees to remember you.

Drawback 7: Poor Distribution and Logistics

Mishandling the logistics of distributing swag can lead to disorganized chaos and disappointed attendees.

Solution: Plan Distribution Logistics in Advance

Devise a clear plan for distributing swag at the event. Consider factors such as booth layout, traffic flow, and staffing to ensure a seamless distribution process.

Drawback 8: Limited Tracking and ROI Measurement

Not having a way to track the impact of your swag on attendee engagement and ROI can make it difficult to assess the effectiveness of your efforts.

Solution: Implement Tracking Mechanisms

Include QR codes, unique coupon codes, or specific landing pages on your swag items. This enables you to track how many attendees engaged with your brand as a direct result of the swag.


The practice of giving out swag at events is much more than a simple marketing gimmick. It's a strategic approach to engage attendees, elevate brand visibility, and foster meaningful connections. 

By investing in high-quality, relevant, and creative giveaways, companies can leave a positive and lasting impact on event attendees. Swag, when thoughtfully designed and aligned with your brand, becomes a powerful tool that enhances your overall event marketing strategy. 

So, the next time you're planning an event, consider the impact that well-chosen swag can have on your brand's success.

Mallory Haines
January 10, 2024