4 Steps to More Strategic Event Gifting

Mugs, pens, and USB sticks, oh my! Here’s how to think beyond conventional swag and use personalized event gifts to stand out to your target audience.

Forging a memorable connection at a conference or a marketing event often means striking up a conversation with an attendee, whether they are in the media, an influencer, or a business prospect. But savvy salespeople and mindful marketers also use gifts to help attendees remember them—and their business or brand—long after an event is over.

Enter the event gift, or, as it’s often known, swag. For many businesses, these promotional gifts are a key way to increase brand recognition with new customers and clients, and help create advocates for a brand.

But when your guests are attending virtual versions of events—conferences by Zoom and remote product launches are the rule for now—how can you deliver gifts at all, or better yet, use them as an opportunity to deepen your engagement with attendees? Our take is this: Carefully consider not only what types of event gifts you are offering, but also how to have that swag seamlessly delivered in a convenient yet exciting way.

In fact, that focus on personalization and ease is a lesson that anyone who deals with swag can take forward into the new normal, whatever the work world looks like in 2020 and beyond.

“Swag should never be an afterthought. What makes great swag is the amount of thought and care put into the process and execution.”

Mike Manning, a managing partner at experiential marketing firm Proof Media Mix.

So where should you start when thinking about gifting for virtual events? And how can you make it easier for yourself and your team to handle them? Here are four steps to smarter swag:

Step 1: Know your audience and your desired outcomes.

Gifts can serve as a connection point between a person and a brand. As Manning says, “swag can help establish, maintain, and deepen the relationship between the person and the giver.” When deciding what type of gifts to offer your event attendees, reflect on your ideal outcome— Brand recognition? Surprise and delight?—as well as the individuals who will receive your gifts.

Step 2: Source the best event gift options.

Even if you have a small budget, giving a gift can still be very effective. When you carefully select gifts with the audience in mind, swag doesn’t need to break the bank to be valued by your attendees. But the gift needs to be right, and well-thought out swag is key.

Consider first what you want to convey about your own brand: If your company is all about health and fitness, for example, a wearable fitness tracker is a smart gift that aligns to your company’s core values. Next, think about your attendees.


Pro tip: Enlist the help of a Gift Concierge to help you identify the most sought-after gift options for your event attendees.


As a starting point, the most effective gifts for event attendees will:

  • Have a personal touch.

Make the item something they will actually use by giving them the ability to personalize it. Can the attendee get the gift in the color and size they want—or have their initials on it?

  • Give the recipient a choice.

Having a small array of carefully pre-selected items that the attendee can choose from will help them to feel like they are getting something they want or need.

  • Provide value.

Again, the essential point with swag is not the price tag, but how valuable the item is to the recipient. “The more that the consumer sees value in the item, the better the result,” says Manning.

Successful gifts are like any other item held to the Marie Kondo standard: They should provide joy or be useful. So giving your attendees the gift of choice can go a long way to making a positive, lasting impression.

Step 3: Don’t stress the planning.

Weeks of planning time (or the budget for rush orders) used to be necessary to create a swag bag composed of strategic and personalized gifts. After all, without organization, staffing, and a solid plan, “the headache potential is real,” says Manning.

A Gift Experience Management (GXM) solution like GiftNow, however, can help you zap those headaches before they start. With a GXM platform in your event planning arsenal, the entire gift experience is handled digitally, from gift selection to shipping. So you don’t need to worry about lead times before the event—or even have the swag arrive on the day of the event. Instead, your attendees will receive a gift, or a custom-curated selection of gifts to choose from, in a digitally delivered and branded experience. Since the gift is announced by text or email, it arrives precisely when you choose—whether that be on-demand or at a predetermined strategic moment.

Step 4: Make delivery easy. For both parties.

If you’ve ever peeked into the “swag closet” in an office, you know: Swag can be costly to order, a pain to find storage for, and sometimes just ends up sitting around for months. It’s hardly the most efficient means of dealing with gifts. With Gift Experience Management, however, you never need a swag closet—and you can save money on unwanted or ungifted items—because gifts are given and delivered on demand.

GiftNow allows your event attendee to choose their own delivery address after choosing their gift. Bonus: You don’t need to track down a single mailing address to have your swag delivered, and since gifts are delivered digitally and shipped thereafter, you can select gifts that are too bulky to be carried around a conference center.

You can even arrange for the gift to arrive digitally before the event. “Mailed swag has always been a great way to make a connection—whether as a pre- or post-event item,” says Manning.

Make the most out of your event by gifting smarter.

Giving your target audience a personalized gift can be easily arranged, especially when you partner with a GXM provider like GiftNow. Different attendees can receive different gifts, the process is instantaneous, and delivery is easy.

The future of swag bags? It’s already here.


Reach out to our GiftNow Gift Concierge team at loopmein@loopcommerce.com to discover your options for an engaging event gift campaign.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *