5 Tips for Swag Giveaways that Don’t Bore the Recipients to Death

When it comes to promotional products, the financial and professional services sector can be a bit boring. It’s true that quality promotional products matter; however, these won’t be effective in their own. You need to embed more value to the items.

Promotional product - USB

Sounds challenging? Fear not – with a little creativity, your swag can represent much more that the items’ value. Here are five tips for promotional product giveaways that fascinate, intrigue and delight the recipients:

1. Tell story

I used to work with a payroll company in getting their brand and message enhanced via content creation and marketing. As a thank you for my effort, they sent a box full of swag.

Plenty of swag!

The box contains five items – a pen, tumbler, umbrella, power bank and Rubik’s Cube. What’s interesting is that each of the items represent a meaning. The power bank represents the “second wind” for working on a project when I need it. The pen, obviously, represents content writing/creation. The umbrella represents “when things go bad, you’ve got the brolly to protect you”. The Rubik’s Cube might help in finding inspiration. The tumbler says, “stay healthy – you’ll need it for creating awesome content.”

Those were about 40 weeks ago, and I still have a fond memory of them (and the sender.)

You see, in any marketing endeavours that you have, storytelling matters. It’s storytelling that enhance your brand; it’s storytelling that help to close the sales; it’s storytelling that keeps people remembering you – and talk about you.

So, tell your story.

2. Don’t give swag just for the sake of it

In an expo, promotional items seem to be a must-give. Unfortunately, this is the very reason why many companies – especially in finance and professional service – waste plenty of money on swag and get nearly nothing in return.

You can’t just give things out for the sake of it; you need to have a clear-cut strategy to win. You need to craft the branding messages represented by your swag carefully. A pen is just a pen – until you embed a logo/ a message on it and wrap an interesting story around it. USBs are just USBs – until you add some value to it (e.g. Other than your logo, how about the actual “surprises” inside the USBs?)

3. Do YOU actually want them?

A simple question: If you were the recipient of your promotional products, do you really want to receive it? Are you feeling intrigued by it? If your answer is, “well, yeah… but…” then you should seek different swag and/or more interesting story to embed in each item.

Promotional mug

Not bad, but I’m not fancy of promotional mugs. I never store or use them. Never. Photo credit: F5 Nordic Coffee Mug / Flickr

4. Don’t forget your CTA!

Don’t underestimate the power of call-to-action or CTA. A simple CTA like “Call us for a free estimate” printed on each and every of your promotional item can be very effective.

I understand that it can be a challenge adding a CTA in a pen, but let’s just say that it’s mandatory. Alternatively, you can try notepads, due to the space availability for placing your CTA.

5. Engagement is king

In content marketing, engagement is king – meaning, no matter how great your content is, without engaging your target audience on social media it won’t be effective. “Just publish the content and you’re done” won’t work. Not anymore.

The same thing is true for promotional item giveaways. In an event, expo or trade show, giving swag to every passing visitor is not effective; giving swag AND engage the visitor can work very well. Please note that “engaging” is not the same thing as “pitching”. You don’t sell when giving out your swag; you tell your story and be interesting enough for the visitor to stop on his/her track and learn more about your business.


So, there you go – 5 tips on how NOT to bore your swag recipients. Indeed, it’s challenging to add more value to your promotional products in the form of intangibles, such as story, visitor engagement, etc. However, in the long run, those intangibles are the ones that will win brand awareness and – eventually – new clients for your financial and professional service.

Invest in promotional items carefully, craft your message well, and expect a considerable ROI for your promotional campaign. I wish you good luck in your promotional endeavours!


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