Your potential customers get invited to conferences and events all the time.
Staying relevant and having your emails clicked on is a constant battle.
Getting delegates to join your event when they don’t live in the vicinity, makes your job that much harder.
So, why not dangle a carrot in front of them to make the deal a little sweeter. A BIG carrot.
Invest in a great conference bagConference bags have been around as long as conferences; unfortunately little seems to have been learned by their designers or by exhibitors giving away random ‘goodies’ at their table.
The unfortunate part isn’t that the giveaways aren’t innovative, but rather that the vast majority of printed material will end up in the trash, unread, and the promo items unused.
Put simply, time and money are completely wasted, not to mention a golden opportunity to both bring guests to the event as well as connect them to sponsors and exhibitors.
Step 1. Don’t be a cheap pen
Your conference bag should be a key part of your event and not an afterthought that you put together because you feel that you need to put something into your client’s hands.
This is not a gift. This is not a bag filled with ‘important’ information. This is a physical extension of your brand and should thus be given a respectable amount of time to be developed.
Are you a cheap pen?
Are you an ugly bag that will fall apart before your guest has the chance to use it?
Are you aware of your customer’s needs and do you use initiative to comfort them before they seek your help?
Are you useful?
When deciding what should go into your conference bag, make sure that you have a clear reason for each item and that it is a representation of your overall marketing plan.
Step 2. Talk to your partners
Let you exhibitors and sponsors in on your plans.
Tell them that you are upgrading your marketing strategy and that they will have the opportunity to contribute to the overall message of the event.
You could, for example, set up a registry of ‘wish list’ items and ask your partners to nominate which ones they would like to contribute to.
Whether you add the products to your own welcome bag or allow the client to distribute it themselves, your entire event will instantly be elevated and delegates will know that going to one of your events means real business.
Moreover, no longer will your partners be just a name on a long list, rather they will be a well-fitted puzzle piece that, when put together, will raise your customer satisfaction levels and overall impression of the production and those involved in it.
Step 3. Tell your guests they’re in for a treat
Tell your guests what they can expect in their conference bag:
- Touchscreen gloves?
- Flexible travel keyboard?
- Tech organisers?
- The latest skincare range from one of the exhibitors?
Display the show bag in your advertising and encourage early registration by saying that certain items will be limited to early birds only.
You can also give your guests a choice in special (read: more expensive) items, making their experience even more personalised.
The do’s and don’ts of gift bags
DO make the holding bag unique. You want your guests to use it again and not be embarrassed by it.
DON’T add a date to your products. Who wants to carry a bag from a 2016 biotechnology conference?
DO add your motto or something inspiring to a bag or t-shirt. Let’s be honest, inspiring quotes are a trend that won’t die any time soon
DON’T have products that are too big or heavy. Your attendees need to carry them around all day and may need to take them back on a plane, so make sure they’re light, easy to pack and comply with carry-on regulations.
DO select items that the guest will be intrigued by and want to start a conversation about.
DON’T include t-shirts that your guests will likely put into the pajama drawer as soon as they get home.
DO put in items that can become appropriate gifts for kids. Imagine the thanks you will be getting when the parent doesn’t have to make a stopover at Hamleys during their trip to London.
DON’T make your products look cheap and disposable. Again and again, if your giveaway pen is cheap and disposable, then so is your brand. Think about it.
DO avoid the usual items such as mugs, hats and empty USBs - it’s a hands-down waste of money.
DON’T make your products overly branded. You want the items to be practical and sometimes massive logos are neither attractive nor appropriate on promotional products. Keep it simple, clean and stylish.
So what’s in the bag???
If most of your attendees are likely to be from out of town then make sure they receive a warm welcome:
- Local snacks
- >ealthy foods that sustain energy
- British tea
- A map of the area
- List of tours available in the city
- Contact details of a travel agent
- A pouch with 10 quid in coins (it’s a bit out of the box but sometimes you just need some change!)
- Coupon book with sponsor discounts
Here are a few more items that are especially handy when you hold your event in more faraway places and your guests just happen to forget the essentials:
- Body location and lip balm
- Eye mask
- Microfibre towel
- Wet ones
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Yoga mat
- Travel adapter
Today, eco-friendly items are appreciated and are especially useful for travellers. Double points if a portion of the proceeds from these products goes to a noteworthy cause:
- Stainless steel straw
- Folding coffee cup
- Collapsible bag
- USB loaded with promotional material and content that would have otherwise been printed
If you were able to collaborate with your sponsors or have a higher budget, then have a look into getting these items, especially if you are holding a tech event:
- Tech organiser
- USB port and power bank
- Small speakers
- Touchscreen gloves
- Phone stand/ pop socket
- Phone lanyard
- Tripod for smartphone >
- Flexible travel keyboard
- Hanging charging station
- Dry case for phone
Wait, that wasn’t SO expensive!
That’s right; although more expensive than a plastic pen, you should be able to source most of the items at a reasonable rate.
The idea here is to make your offer
- And most importantly, a valid representation of your event message.
By getting your partners involved and exciting your guests with the prospect of receiving valuable treats, you are a short step away from making your event a memorable sell out!