What swag will get you noticed at your next conference?

by | Mar 17, 2022 | B2B Marketing, Healthcare Marketing

Conferences are back in a big way. Marketers are finally ready to get out there and meet people face-to-face and connect like real humans! 

So, how do you connect with people and make it memorable? Are you tired of the same old boring swag that you’ve seen at trade shows for 20 years? You know the boring promotional items at their trade show booths, like pens, koozies, stress balls (eek). Or how about the Covid-related swag like masks, hand sanitizers, and button-pushers?

Ugh, come on!  Don’t be basic. You can do better than that.

Here are a few modern conference swag ideas that may help you stand out and capture some leads from the next conference you attend. Because that’s what conferences are really about, right? 

Four ways to get noticed at your next conference

Before you consider what to bring to your next conference, let’s talk about your goals.  Why are you attending this conference?

Are your customers attending the conference? If so, how many do you hope to meet with? Do you have meetings set up in advance?

Are you meeting with potential investors in your business? Do you need to have material ready to hand out?

Are you unveiling a new product or service at the conference? How do you want people to talk and remember the new product?

Setting clear goals for what you hope to achieve at the conference is critical before even considering to attend, let alone purchase promotional items.  

Assuming you’ve already set a goal for the number of prospects you’ll be meeting with and what you want them to walk away with, then you’ll have a better idea  of what to bring with you. 

Stop buying business cards

When I started my business a few years ago, I was so excited to order business cards. I created a custom design on Moo.com with luxury paper stock and embossed logo. They were very impressive – or so I thought. Four years later, I still have a box of those business cards. 

I am notorious for forgetting my business cards at meetings, networking events and conferences.  So, I recently found a better solution than just buying a business card holder for my handbag. 

Dot card has a product that looks like a sticker you place on your phone that allows you to tap someone else’s phone and open up your contact info in a beautifully displayed v-card. I bought the thin version that sticks on my smartphone under the case, so it’s completely invisible.  It’s an affordable and smart option for people like me who constantly forget business cards.

The Dot card also:

  • Controls how your contact info is saved
  • Demonstrates sustainability by eliminating paper cards
  • Provides a more convenient option for your prospects to save contact info

Dot card also sells cards that have the same functionality.

Here’s how my profile shows up when I tap someone’s phone: 

Dot card profile

If you must have paper

Some people prefer to write notes than type them into their phone or computer. I love the ability to save my notes on my phone. But there’s something satisfying about writing notes in a paper notebook.

I’ve never been able to throw away a notebook that I’ve been given at a conference or meeting, especially if it’s quality soft or hardcover. Even if I don’t use it right away, I save the paper for future use.

A quality branded notebook will be memorable and have a longer life on your prospect’s desk.  This hardcover notebook is high-quality and customizable for those clients you’re trying to impress.

Karst Hardcover Notebook

Keep them hydrated

You may have heard that Starbucks is phasing out paper cups over the next few years. Coffee-loving trade show patrons may be looking for a better solution to paying for a “reusable” cup that is not branded by the coffee company.

This tumbler is a great solution, no matter what your drink of choice. And it’s beautifully designed. Brand it with your logo and your clients will see your company name each time they reach for a container to carry on their next trip.

Branded tumbler

Be a life saver

I once lost my phone in the back of a cab while attending a Las Vegas conference. I was lucky enough to call the cab driver and get the phone back within an hour. But how many trade show attendees misplace their phones or keys and just write it off as a loss? 

That’s where Tile Mate can be a lifesaver. connect it to a phone or key chain and it can help you find the device or item quickly.

This branded item could be a lifesaver for your clients.

Quality promotional items for quality brands

You might have noticed that the items I mentioned are of high quality and value than what you might be used to receiving at shows. I’m recommending a higher value item because I believe you get what you pay for, in all ways. Pens, trinkets, hats, and other throw-away items are overdone and filling landfills because people don’t really want or need them.

You’ve probably come across the trade show patron that walks the hall filling their bag full of branded trinkets. Are they the prospect you’re trying to attract? Or are you focused on building relationships with people who value your brand and the services you offer.

If you need help answering that question, let’s chat. 

Stacey Harrison

About the Author

Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.