Your corporate swag sucks? How to fix that…

Fear.  It’s a part of life.   It’s in the nature of being human.  As we head into conference season, our staff gets excited for all the cool product ideas we see and hear about.  But, in the back of our minds, we have a fear.  Corporate swag — company gifts — that suck!  It really raises the hair on our arms when we see swag that sucks.

We want to share with you some of the most common reasons why some companies end up creating corporate swag that sucks.

Poor Planning

You’re so busy planning your training or event that the corporate gift ends up at the bottom of the To Do list.  We must warn you: people are not fools!  Your participants will be able to tell that there was no thought put into your giveaway.  This gives your brand a bad impression.

Solution: Make sure you begin planning your giveaway in the early stages of your project.   Add “Promo Item Planning” into your publicity or marketing workflow.

Haste Makes Waste

Benjamin Franklin said, “Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.”

Rushing at the last minute is a recipe for disaster. It can result in poor quality, limited options, delivery issues, stock challenges, mistakes in the final product, or swag in the trash. But the biggest risk you face is the impression your promo item leaves behind.  The message a rushed job sends is: “Sorry, but this giveaway is an afterthought.” Or even worse, “We don’t care enough about you or your business.”

Solution: Again – it’s all in the planning.  Take the time to incorporate giveaways into your marketing strategy.  Within 6 to 10 weeks of event date, almost any full custom design in swag can be ordered.  With 6 to 10 days, the choices are way narrower.

No Pizazz or Flair

Your swag uses very little design aesthetic and therefore leaves a bland brand taste in the mouths of your audience.  When you shorten the design process, it shows.  Your custom merch suppliers may not have the design expertise and/or time to give you cool alternatives.

Boring t-shirt

Life is too short for boring swag.

Solution:   Time and collaboration.  Give yourself time (as mentioned already) to work with your merchandise supplier or designer to come up with great design ideas and product options so that you leave a lasting and positive brand impression.

Lacks the “Extra Touch”  

You give a conference goer a Flash Drive with your logo on it OR you give your booth visitor a cleverly packaged USB drive in wicked gift wrap along with a handwritten note from the CEO.    When you go the extra mile, it tells the consumer that you care. A lot.

Solution: Get creative, brainstorm, create a Swipe file of ideas and items that have inspired you in the past.  And of course, always seek consultation from your merch supplier.  Remember: a huge difference can be made even in the smallest detail.

Nothing says “We Care” like Donuts!!  Messaging is unique and fun.

Donut ever stop making lives better.

Extra touch from Nurse Next Door for its current/potential clients.

One Size Does Not Fit All

A C-level target audience may not compare to exhibit floor traffic.  Depending on your goals, the swag “rewards” may be different for each.  Has your participant filled out a survey or provided their email address? Did they participate on a panel discussion?  Recognize that one size does NOT fit all and that there are different price points for each audience group you have designated at your event.

Solution: Know your target audience(s), the participants you want to acknowledge and plan your swag budget accordingly.


Budget Blindness

The creative ideas may be flowing in your swag planning session, but you don’t have a clue as to how much it will cost or how much you have to spend.  This wastes prescious time!

Solution: Do your research, talk to your supplier.  Find your budget range, and work with your supplier to come up with reasonable options.

Fear can be a great motivator for change. You can have swag that rocks and that creates a lasting positive impression. Lean on the experts and trust their judgement.  They have the knowledge and experience to advise you on cost, quality, efficacy and value.


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