Unique Swag Ideas to Make Your Next Trade Show a Success

Unique Swag Ideas to Make Your Next Trade Show a Success

Passing out free stuff can give your brand a major marketing boost this trade show season. Trade show swag has something of a reputation for being lame and unusable, but that’s not a reason to stop stocking your booth with freebies. It’s actually the reason to look for unique swag ideas instead of the usual pens and USB fobs. When you’re giving event attendees stuff they really like and will definitely use, you’ll automatically set yourself apart from the competition.   

Why Finding Unique Swag Ideas Is So Important

You probably already know that freebies are a great way to promote deeper brand awareness at trade shows, but did you also know that cliched swag can actually aggravate trade show attendees? You’re not going to get much traction out of cheap or unimaginative swag. That’s why one of the biggest trends in promotional products is creativity. For better or for worse, people are coming to expect great swag and so it pays to look for unique swag ideas.

Why? Because the companies that do what it takes to get remembered are the companies that get business. The best trade show swag is not only useful, but good and attractive enough to get used. Every time event attendees use your branded freebies, your company’s logo, name, tagline, and url will be front and center. That’s good, as research shows that it takes five to seven impressions for someone to remember a brand name. When you find unique swag ideas instead of giving away the same old stuff, you’ll get those impressions — and the desired leads — much more quickly. 

From toys to office supplies, there are now thousands of amazing products that you can customize with your branding.

Here are 11 unique swag ideas that will make your booth a must-visit destination at the next trade show you attend.

1. Branded PopSockets

This trendy phone case add-on is quickly becoming a necessity across demographics because they make holding onto today’s supersized phones much easier. That means that they’re a super useful unique swag idea, so trade show attendees love them. More importantly, the back of a person’s phone is some seriously prime marketing real estate. People who take and use your branded PopSocket will see your company logo every time they pick up their phones, ensuring your brand is always front of mind. Branded PopSockets (whether plastic or aluminum, printed or engraved) can be customized in so many ways, and they can be used on almost any brand of phone case or phone.

2. Customized Phone Wallets

This is another unique swag idea that will guarantee that people see your company name, logo, and URL multiple times each day. Custom printed adhesive phone wallets help people keep the important things they need to carry (like cash, IDs, and credit cards) together by turning phone cases into wallets. They’re a big space saver, and frequent travelers love them. Businesses love them, too, because they’re relatively inexpensive as trade show swag goes and lightweight, so they’re easy to transport from show to show. They also come in lots of colors and have plenty of space for businesses to customize.

3. Better Bottles

This isn’t a new idea, but hydration is important, and most people carry some form of water bottle these days. The thing about customizable water bottles is that there are so many on the market. You can’t just slap a logo on a super basic bottle and call it a day. These days, printed water bottles for trade shows may be made of healthier BPA-free polypropylene or biodegradable, FDA-approved HDPE plastic. There are water bottles with built-in filtration technology and even Bluetooth speaker water bottles, which are definitely a unique swag idea. Consider what kind of water bottle — eco-friendly, healthy, high tech, etc. — will appeal to your customer base the most, and then invest in and customize it for your next trade show.

4. Custom Backpacks

Branded tote bags are a dime a dozen these days, so if you’re looking to up your game while still giving attendees somewhere to put their swag, samples, and brochures, think backpack. Custom backpacks are better than tote bags for a number of reasons. They may be more expensive, but they’ll last longer, and attendees will see them as more valuable. If giving away a huge number of custom backpacks isn’t possible because of budgetary constraints, you could customize a smaller number of backpacks and hold a raffle for people just who stop by your booth or for people who post about your company on social media.

5. Branded Cell Phone Power Banks

Why are USB fobs out? First, because most of us have a handful of them stashed in our desk drawers. Power banks, on the other hand, are an extremely useful thing to have that a lot of us don’t actually have. And second, because chances are there will be ten other companies handing out USB fobs at the next show you attend. Branded power banks, on the other hand, are still a relatively new and unique swag idea, so you may be the only company giving them away. Every person who receives your custom cell phone power bank will feel a little rush of gratitude for your company whenever that power bank saves their devices from going dead. 

6. Custom Running Armbands

This is a unique swag idea that is perfect when given the right audience. While it won’t be right for every company at every trade show, a custom running armband can be an extremely memorable freebie for the right crowd. Not only are these stretch phone-holding running accessories a very different kind of giveaway, but they’re also useful. And chances are that the people who take your branded running armbands will use them nearly every day.

7. Printed Lip Balm

Who couldn’t use another tube of lip balm or two? Budget-friendly promotional lip balm is a great trade show giveaway for a bunch of reasons. One, travel can lead to dehydration, which leads to chapped lips. Chances are, at least a few people who stop by your booth are going to be so excited to see this freebie. And second, lip balm is one of those rare things that people not only use daily but will also keep around for a while. Make sure you choose a lip balm that contains premium-quality ingredients and consider going with packaging (e.g., tubes with hook-style fasteners) that will make it less likely that your promotional lip balm will end up at the bottom of someone’s purse.

8. A Customized Multi-Purpose Tool

In certain industries, you’ll find a multi-purpose tool in everyone’s pocket. Now, imagine how much exposure your company could get if some people in those industries were carrying branded multi-purpose tools featuring your logo. From bottle openers to flashlights to carabiners to scissors and screwdrivers, these tools are often used multiple times a day — and each one of those times will remind potential customers that your company exists and that you cared enough to give away a trade show freebie a cut above the usual t-shirt.

9. Printed Waterproof Tech Bags

Almost everyone carries a smartphone, and even a tablet, these days — including to the beach, on a boat, and by the pool. Protecting them from water and sand damage can be a pain, but you can make it easier for the people who stop by your booth by giving away branded waterproof tech protectors. You’ll show potential customers that you’re looking out for them and their gear without spending a lot, since this unique swag idea is relatively inexpensive.

10. Branded Socks

Who doesn’t need more socks? Custom socks run the gamut from printed premium cotton to socks crafted from antimicrobial-treated, moisture-wicking fabric, and they’re a safer bet than other clothes because they’re not as in-your-face as promotional t-shirts. Most people who receive socks as swag will use those socks over and over again — provided they’re actually comfortable. So, if you’re planning to give trade show attendees socks printed with your company logo, make sure those socks are soft, high-quality, and fun.

11. Custom Utility Charging Cables

This is another unique swag idea that is much better than the usual charging cable. These customizable charging cables let you charge different types of devices using a single split cord with a USB plug, micro-USB plug, Type-C plug, and other types of connectors built right in. This type of charging cable is better than a standard USB or lightning cable because most people have devices that require different types of connectors. When you give away universal utility charging cables to the people who visit your booth, they’ll be able to go home and toss out the tangle of different charging cables that’s been taking up space in their desk drawers.

Budgeting for Unique Swag Ideas

What most of the freebies above have in common is that they’re pricier than branded pens. Maybe you’re lucky and your swag budget is big. Or maybe your trade show price range varies from show to show, so you know you’ll be able to invest in some or all of these unique swag ideas. On the other hand, maybe you’re not sure how much you can safely spend on booth giveaways. In that case, here are some ways to cut costs when choosing freebies:

  • Bigger isn’t always better, and more expensive doesn’t always equal more traction. Ask yourself what kinds of swag event attendees are likely to actually use in the short term and in the long term. The answers may surprise you.

  • If you know for a fact that attendees will love a certain freebie but it’s out of reach, look for budget-friendly alternatives that will have the same impact. For instance, a more reasonably priced single-wall metal water bottle instead of an insulated one.

  • Don’t forget about shipping! Your giveaway items not only have to get to you; you’ll also have to get them to and from trade shows. The cost of transporting swag can add up fast, so lightweight items like lip balm or waterproof tech cases may be your best bet.

  • You don’t have to give everyone who stops by your booth swag. You can maximize the impact of freebies while also handing out fewer of them by creating actions that attendees must complete (e.g., watching your presentation or giving you a business card) to earn your giveaway.

In the end, swag can help you stand out from the crowd and generate positive attention that lasts long after a trade show is over. The key is handing out trade show freebies that are not only unique, but also attractive and useful. The eleven items we’ve shared above fit the bill and will definitely make your company a hit at the next trade show you attend.

Are you searching for the best quality swag for this trade show season? At Bagmasters, you can choose from thousands of customizable promotional items like custom backpacks, tech accessories, apparel, and more. Start customizing freebies that will get your company noticed here.

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