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4 tips: Choosing the best promotional giveaways for events

Nov 07, 2017 | Charish Badzinski

A lot happens before you start thinking about the best promotional giveaways for your event. You’ve nailed down your event concept, you’ve reserved the space and notified volunteers. Your design team (or you, if you’re a team of one!) has put together beautiful collateral to promote your event in the community. Maybe you’ve placed ads. Maybe you’ve started promotions on social media. Still, that massive catalog of tempting event gifts and irresistible promotional products in every color, shape and size sits on your desk. Waiting.

Choosing promotional giveaways for events

It’s time to order the best promotional giveaways for your event.

You’re stumped. Overwhelmed, even. How do you choose quality custom event giveaways attendees will love, something that might just bring them to the event in the first place? How do you find that irreplaceable custom gift they’ll keep in their homes or office and use regularly? And how do you choose something that will make them a long-time customer, advocate, ambassador or devotee?

It’s not easy choosing swag. But it’s important to find something that sticks. L.J. Market Research conducted a study of business travelers, and found 71 percent of study participants had received a promotional product within the last year. Even better, 33 percent had the product on them as they were traveling.

To be in that 33 percent is the holy grail of promotional product selection. Now getting there? That’s the tricky part.

71% of business travelers received a promotional product within the last year

Choosing event giveaways

Luckily there are experts on the matter—people who work quietly behind the scenes of events, conferences, trade shows and more—who navigate this question regularly and seem to nail it, every time. As we try to keep our heads above water in the promotional products trenches, they offer a life raft of possibilities to consider for our next events.

Meet Andrea Lewis, event and marketing director for Adams Publishing Group LLC, or APG Media of Ohio. The organization oversees publishing for 63 community newspapers, 18 advertising shoppers, 20 specialty publications and 81 affiliated websites.

Many of their publications are community newspapers in areas not served by other media, so they are an essential resource for spreading the word about what’s happening and highlighting what’s positive in those regions.

Brand your promotional items to match the content of community publications.
Brand your promotional items to match the content of community publications.

Promotional swag for themed events

In her role, Lewis helps host about 18 events every year, from community events and magazine launches to large-scale fundraisers, including the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. Lewis also plans launch parties for their specialty publications, such as visitor guides or anniversary community books.

“Those would be themed parties where our guests buy a ticket, so there’s that exclusivity. So, they receive an evening of entertainment and a bag full of goodies in exchange: branded gifts or themed items that match with the content of the publication.” Lewis says.

Those event gifts range from custom tire-pressure gauges to skinny spatulas and custom hurricane cups. (More on that later.) Due to the sheer volume of events she’s helped host as well as her marketing savvy, when it comes to choosing the right promotional products for their promotional goodie bags or thank-you gifts, Lewis is an ace. So, based on her experience, she provided these invaluable insights that are sure to up your event giveaway game.


Four tips for choosing the best promotional giveaways.

Tip 1

Start with the mission and purpose of the event.

“Starting with that mission and purpose is a key piece. Because you can’t start with the giveaway,” Lewis explains.

Many people get wowed when the catalog arrives, and strategy goes out the window. But by staying grounded in the mission and purpose of the event, you’ll be able to choose how to spend your promotional products budget more wisely.

“If the purpose is to gain customers, a targeted group, it’s very different than if the mission is to have as many people in a small area as possible show up for a free community event,” Lewis explains.

Tip 2

Factor in audience and audience size.

Of course, you want promotional products that resonate with your crowd, but you also want to check your crowd size, as that drives budget.

“It puts in motion everything else you can do for that customer, how you reinforce your brand for that customer and how you reinforce the impression of your brand that they take away.”

Lewis is quick to point out the process can be fun. “We’re very fortunate in this day and age that we no longer are limited to that T-shirt or can Koozies®.”

Yet, Lewis stresses, it’s important to stay with your event theme when making choices.


Tip 3

Consider event giveaways that are useful and have a long shelf life.

“We sometimes forget there are inexpensive products that are useful and have a life span and can keep our company top of mind. For celebrations that center on a cooking show, Lewis has selected items like custom Vegetable Peelers and promotional Small Silicone Spatulas, which they gave away in a goodie bag with a recipe attached. The spatula is an indispensable item, Lewis explains, and something attendees hold on to because it’s useful for getting the last bits of a product out of a jar. Other specialty items that have been a hit in the past include a custom tire-pressure gauge, like the QuickView Tire Gauge, for a girl’s road trip goodie basket.

Small Silicone Spatula Vegetable Peeler

Quick View Tire Gauge


Tip 4

Remember the goal at the heart of it all.

The best promotional giveaways should remind people about the quality experience and service they received.

“The purpose of the giveaway really exceeds the value of what the item is. For a Mardi Gras-themed party, Lewis ordered custom, 14 oz. Mood Hurricane Cups.

“So when they’re sitting in their pool drinking iced tea, they remember the event, and they think, ‘That was awesome.’” Lewis says.

“You want whatever item to have staying power in someone’s home, but you want that brand to remind them of the service you gave them that day.”

Your crowd will go wild for these fun personalized plastic cups!

Your crowd will go wild for these fun personalized plastic cups!


The best promotional giveaways for your events are within your reach

Choosing event gifts doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these tips from someone who’s been there, done that hundreds of time. You’ll find choosing the best promotional giveaways comes naturally when you focus on your purpose, factor in audience size, consider giveaways with a long shelf life, and keep in mind the lingering experience customers have with your organization.
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