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How To Put The “Good” Back In Goodie Bags

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The thrill of a goodie bag harkens back to the days when we were youngsters attending birthday parties. If Little Sally consistently gave out awesome goodie bags, word would spread and an invitation to Little Sally’s parties became highly sought after ticket. Little Sally becomes the cool kid on the playground.

Goodie bags also exist in a grownup, professional context. They make perfect opportunities for sponsors to disseminate product information or to share branded promotional material. But swag bags — as they’re often referred — also offer a unique PR opportunity, a method to influence the way people talk about your business or association.

Here are a few ways to optimize the conference bag. And maybe even get people talking about your event.

No more Frisbees. The world is full of conference Frisbees. And while we’re on the subject, most of us have enough travel mugs. And ball caps. And logo-smeared water bottles. No more, thanks.

Offer consumables. Rather than stuff that collects dust, include products that people actually will eat or use. A chocolate shop or soap maker might be eager to offer unique samples. Offer products that attendees wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Go locally made. To help your attendees get a flavour of the meeting destination, partner with a local chocolate shop or soap maker. Additional ideas include teas, candles, dried regional fruit, hand cream, hot sauce, salts, or spice mix. (Just make sure everything will pass through airport security!)


Keep paper advertising to a minimum. Yes, you’ve got sponsorship agreements to honour. But the equation goes like this: the more pamphlets in the goodie bag, the less value each pamphlet offers. A sea of papers just gets dumped in the recycle — or worse, the garbage. So choose wisely.

Restaurant gift certificates or coupons. When the conference is over, attendees will often linger at a destination. A partnership with a local restaurant makes a tasty gift, while helping the attendee navigate the city.

Link the goodie bag to gamification. If your conference is using gamification, put clues or challenges in the bag!

Make the conference bag durable. If you’re going to invest money in a conference bag, choose materials such as leather or high-quality canvas. Keep any branding or decals to a minimum. When a bag is loved, an attendee will talk about it — thus giving your association a bit of quality marketing over the years to come.

Go smaller. Alternative to a backpack or full-sized messenger bag, a small toiletry bag (dopp kit) or satchel offer a cost-saving option while still falling under the category of “conference bag.”

Give seeds. For regional meetings, select a plant or tree that best symbolizes your organization. Can it thrive in rocky soil? Does it produce a beautiful blossom?  Offer a small paper envelope with a few seeds and a printed explanation of the meaning behind the chosen plant. (Tip: For international meetings, herbs such as rosemary or parsley are a safe bet as they can grow in a variety of climatic regions.)


Read this next: Public Relations tips for event professionals…  

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