Giving out free stuff might seem like a bad business move, but promotional products are more than just “free stuff”.
Distributing promotional swag items to your target market provides them with a physical reminder of your company. Think about it: what is a better way to keep your brand name fresh in your customers’ minds than giving them something they see constantly?
And apart from that, there’s also the fact that people love getting free stuff. If they associate your brand with a great product that they have received for free, customers are more likely to have a great first impression of your brand.
However, swag has gotten a bad reputation in recent times. These days, people associate swag with cheap, undesirable goods they end up tossing. But we’re here to help you stand out in the crowd with quality swag items people actually want. So, what are the best promotional swag items that will help you achieve your marketing goals? Let’s find out.
What Are Promotional Swag Items?
First things first, what exactly are promotional swag items?
Easy. Swag items are products–manufactured by your own company or otherwise–that are meant to increase brand awareness, improve repetition, and make a great first impression. In other words, promotional swag items are tools that can help your brand achieve its marketing goals.
You might also be wondering, “what is a swag pack?” Simply put, a swag pack or a swag back is a collection of promotional swag items, much like a goodie bag. Usually, swag packs are given to potential clients during marketing events, such as trade shows.
What Can You Use Promotional Swag Items For?
Promotional swag items can be given to both clients and employees. As such, they serve two different primary purposes.
For existing clients and potential clients, swag items:
- Increase brand awareness
- Keep your brand name on top of people’s minds (repetition)
- Boost engagement
- Help penetrate your target markets and improve sales
- Serve as a way to engage with clients effectively
- Help with lead generation
For employees, swag items:
- Act as free marketing when employees use them
- Increase job satisfaction and loyalty
- Improve employee engagement
- Serve as rewards for good performance
- Promote solidarity among employees
As you can see, promotional swag is something you should be investing in. But what makes certain items better than others? How can you ensure you’re getting quality swag? Here’s our take on the matter:
What Makes The Best Promotional Swag Items?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, not all swag items are made equal. People love receiving some items more than others. It will help your marketing efforts if you know what separates the best promotional swag items from the rest. Here are some things to keep in mind along your swag journey:
Swag Items People Will Actually Use
One important thing to remember about swag items is that they are easy to throw out. After all, when you receive an item for free, it likely won’t hold the same value as something that you’ve bought with your own money.
With that in mind, it’s important to choose swag items that people will actually use. Items that people perceive to be useful are less likely to get thrown out, and thus are worth more of your time and money. When in doubt, stick with practical goods.
Quality Goods (Changing The Narrative Around “Swag”)
Apart from being useful, swag items need to be of high quality for people to perceive their value. Over the last few decades, “swag” has gotten a bad reputation as being disposable. And this is mainly due to the fact that a lot of companies give out low-quality items for the sake of saving money.
That said, having your swag thrown out by customers is the last thing you want. You spend money and get no return on it whatsoever when this happens. To avoid that, choose promotional products that are good quality so that people think twice about throwing them out.
Unique Branding To Stand Out
Competitive market or not, unique branding is essential for company swag. This is especially important when you’re giving out swag items during trade shows, where potential clients have received perhaps a dozen other items from other companies.
But whether you’re giving out swag items during a marketing event or on the side of a street, having unique branding will help your company stand out. We’re talking about colors, designs, and designs that capture attention–but the good kind, of course.
Speaking of trade shows, check out these trade show swag ideas for inspiration!
Proper Distribution Of The Swag Matters, Too
The most common way to give out swag is to, well, hand them out to people. However, this can lower the value of your company swag, which defeats the purpose of having company swag anyway.
That said, look for other ways to distribute promotional swag items without decreasing their value. One tip is to make people feel that they’ve “earned it”. For example, you could hold small games during trade shows and give out your swag as rewards. Or perhaps you can allow your customers to choose what they want, which would make them feel that they’ve picked something of the most value.
The Best Promotional Swag Items Of 2022 Reviewed
At Swag Bar, you’ll find the best promotional gift basket selection online. These are swag items people actually want – whether it be your clients, vendors, employees, or anyone else for that matter. Here are our top picks:
Office supplies may seem boring, but they are some of the most practical promotional items you can get. Also, they are often the most useful employee gifts that can boost productivity and job satisfaction at the same time.
Examples of branded office supplies include pens, note pads, desk calendars, notebooks, stamp pads, and so much more. If you want something a little fancier, you could get high-quality leather journals, binders, and desk mats branded with your company name.
Drinkware & Dining Essentials
Swag that people can use every day is the most effective at keeping your brand name at the top of their heads. So, what is something that people do every day? Eat and drink, of course!
The most common type of drinkware that companies go for is reusable water bottles. They are easy to brand, eco-friendly, and relatively inexpensive. Another product you should consider is coffee mugs. Although most people already have them in the office, no one would throw away a perfectly good coffee mug.
When it comes to dining ware, branded lunch boxes or lunch bags work great. For something a little more unique, you could also go for travel utensils, complete with a spoon, fork, knife, and chopsticks.
If you’ve ever seen someone walking around with a company shirt, just know that they are essentially promoting their brand for free. You might not know anything about the company, but seeing a logo or name on someone’s shirt can help you recognize that company in the future. This is called brand awareness.
But shirts aren’t the only type of branded apparel that you can distribute. Other good ideas include baseball caps, jackets, tote bags, and for special occasions–even shoes! Just remember – with swag apparel, you need to invest in higher-quality items. Nobody is interested in wearing just any old branded shirt – it needs to be comfortable & high-quality to stay in the wearer’s rotation!
Snacks and Drinks
Promotional swag items work best when they give recipients that dopamine hit. And what’s a better way to make people happy than by giving out free food and drinks?
Snacks and drinks may not have the same permanence as shirts and reusable water bottles, but they do provide the benefit of making a good first impression. So, the next time you’re promoting your brand, give out tasty treats and drinks in a bag with your brand name on it.
For VIPs, you can even give out gift baskets full of food and drinks. Just make sure to choose items that contain the least allergens. For instance, avoid snacks with nuts, dairy, and shellfish as much as possible.
In the high-tech world that we live in, tech accessories have become more of a necessity rather than a luxury. People love receiving them as gifts more often than not, and contrary to popular belief, tech accessories don’t have to be expensive.
Promotional tech items like flash drives, computer mice, headphones, and chargers can be cost-effective when you buy them in bulk. And since most tech accessories don’t come cheap, people will be more likely to perceive a lot of value in them.
Aside from tech accessories, you can also give out non-electronic products such as laptop bags, phone cases, and phone stands.
Promote your brand all over the world by distributing travel accessories to both your clients and employees. Travel accessories are sought after by everyone, and a lot of people don’t buy them until they need them. That said, travel accessories might not be useful right at the very moment your clients receive them, but they won’t be thrown out either because people might need them someday.
Great examples of branded travel accessories include neck pillows, travel organizers, noise-canceling headphones, laptop bags, luggage tags, portable chargers, and suitcase protectors, just to name a few.
For special clients or top-performing employees, you can also consider branded carry-on luggage, fancy passport holders, high-quality compression socks, and maybe even travel-sized skincare products.
Virtual Workplace Essentials
Take inspiration from our virtual employee appreciation ideas and give out essentials that people can use while working from home–be it permanently or in a hybrid workplace setup.
Create your own virtual workplace essentials kit with WFH comforts, such as seat cushions, reusable water bottles, alarm clocks, mini desk planters, tea and coffee bags, desk pads, chargers, and more.
We’ve mentioned bags in apparel and travel accessories, but we feel that they deserve a section of their own.
Bags are often perceived as high-value items. Their usefulness is a big part of that. People use bags every day at work or otherwise. And if you give your clients or employees high-quality bags, they are more than likely to use them every day. As a result, you get free marketing while they carry your brand name everywhere they go.
Backpacks are a go-to for many companies, but they usually reserve them for employees and important clients because of the cost. If you want a cheaper option, consider giving out branded tote bags or reusable grocery bags instead. They are just as useful, but definitely cost less than backpacks.
All of the items we’ve mentioned so far make great promotional swag items, but what if you can’t decide which one to get? Or what if you need something a bit more special?
Swag boxes give you the freedom to handpick the best promotional swag items you want. You can assemble your own swag boxes or you can get a company like Swag Bar to create them for you. Either way, you call the shots when it comes to the design of the packaging, the theme, and the items that you want to include in your swag pack.
Apart from being more “valuable” than single items, a swag box serves as a great promotional gift to potential clients. For instance, the more branded items that a recipient owns, the more they will remember your brand as time goes by. This is what we refer to as repetition, which is essential for staying on top of your client’s mind.
More than that, swag packs make amazing gifts for your employees. The more products they receive, the more appreciated they will feel in the long run. Plus, giving them promotional items that they can use every day is like gaining brand awareness for free.
There are many themes to choose from. For example, if you want a swag pack for the winter holidays, choose items like hot cocoa packs, scarves, gloves, and heat packs. Or if you are giving out swag boxes in the summer, consider products like sunscreen, sunglasses, and reusable water bottles. The possibilities are endless!
Final Thoughts On The Best Promotional Swag Items
As you can see, there are tons of options you can choose from, but only a few are truly the best promotional swag items. With that in mind, be sure to choose items that are useful, high-quality, and practical, starting with the top choices we’ve mentioned above.