If you attend a major conference or exhibition; then, you can expect to be presented with a collection of ‘goodies’, i.e. promotional gifts. Generally, at minimum, you can expect to walk away with a conference folder which is emblazoned with the event’s logo, and a similarly adorned pen.
Often though, you will emerge from the event with more than this. A conference bag, for instance, is quite a common promotional gift these days. Such bags vary in value from a few pounds to fifty pounds or more.
So, what to put in your conference bag? The folder and pen, naturally, but also perhaps a printed travel mug, a USB memory stick, a mobile phone holder, and so on. All these types of product are currently being used as promotional gifts.
Advantages (for Event Organisers)
Naturally, no-one objects to receiving these things, but what advantages are there, for the event organiser, in giving them?
Incentives. The promise of conference goodies can be an incentive to prospective attendees. It’s a minor one, and one which many people would, perhaps, not want to admit affects them, but an incentive nevertheless.
Memorabilia means memorability. If you give out gifts which are durable, they may stay with the people you give them to, for months, or even years. Each time they see such an item, they will be reminded, if only to a small extent, of your event.
Advertising. A promotional gift with your logo on it will bring your event to the attention of people who have not, so far, attended it; some of these may be prospective customers who have not previously even been aware of the event. They may well see the gifts in the possession of those who are engaged in the same kind of professional activities as themselves.
Cost – the “Keeping up with the Jones’” factor. Simply supplying a pen with an appropriate logo/slogan printed on it is not going to break the bank of any self-respecting event organiser. Providing a £50 conference bag to each attendee, however, is going to impact the event budget much more significantly. You have to judge what the promotional value of the gifts actually are, and not worry TOO much about what other event organisers are offering.
The tacky factor. On the other hand, if your gifts are spectacularly tacky this will not reflect well, either on your organisation, or on the event. Your memorabilia may well be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons.
Complaints. It’s a sad fact that the more you offer to people, the more opportunities there are, for those people to be dissatisfied with what you offer them. Bag handles can snap, pens can leak; when people complain about these things, the fact that the items involved were ‘free’ is often forgotten. In any case, of course, the items are not actually gifts in the proper sense: most often the cost of them comes out of the registration fees.
There are many suppliers. Type “promotional gifts” into Google, and a long list of manufacturers and suppliers will be presented to you. It is simply a matter of shopping around.
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that you will need samples in order to judge the quality of the products, and you may need them from a number of different suppliers. Since you probably will be placing a significant order, you should be able to insist that these samples are sent out to you free of charge. This may prove to be a good test of how easy a particular supplier is to deal with.
Something in the way of promotional goodies is almost de-rigour now. Good quality, though, is generally what’s required, rather than variety and quantity.
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