Everyone loves free things, so why not use it as an opportunity to spread brand awareness? Here’s why swag bags are the perfect promotional strategy for your business.

Despite the rise of social media marketing, promotional marketing products still matter and aren’t leaving anytime soon.

It’s easy to understand how internet browsers might find your company website. But how do you get new people who have never heard of your business to accept your promotional products?

Enter good old-fashioned swag bags.

The “Everybody Wins Nominee Gift Bag” for attendees at the Oscars each year is a shining example of marketing through free swag bags. In fact, the extravagant swag giveaways in those same Academy Award gift bags often make national news.

Still don’t see the point of giveaway bags?

Keep reading to see why swag bags are the ultimate promotional strategy for your brand…

The Habit of Reciprocity

You’re probably wondering how giving away merchandise you pay for yourself is anything other than a loss.

Let’s think back to the last time you received a gift from a friend. You probably at least said thank you, and at most sent a thank you card or made sure to buy them something in return. If you’ve ever responded to a gift with another gift or kind gesture in some way, you’ve participated in the rule of reciprocity.

Otherwise called the norm of reciprocity, we humans have a social expectation to return kindness with kindness. There are many psychological tests and daily examples that prove the power of this social norm.

Marketers are great at using reciprocity to their benefit. You can benefit from this social norm too by handing out swag for free.

You won’t convince every single person you meet to spend their money on you with a giveaway bag. But encouraging reciprocity and kindness is a powerful marketing tool.

Create Undercover Brand Ambassadors

Let’s say you give away 100 swag bags at a conference, and about 35 of those recipients become new customers right away.

What about the other 70 bags? Were those a waste? Are those other 70 potential customers a lost cause?

Not even close!

Let’s say all 70 of those unresponsive people at least keep the bag with your company logo on it. You’ve just recruited 70 new brand ambassadors.

Simply put, a brand ambassador is anyone who represents your business. You can hire your own specially trained brand ambassadors, of course. But sending branded products out into the world is a fast way to get real people to show your logo to the world.

By giving away branded items people will actually use, you’ve done the equivalent of sticking company fliers all over your neighborhood. The more people use your free merchandise, the more brand exposure you get. All it costs you is the wholesale price of the promotional goods.

In fact, if your promotional items are high quality and unique, they’re sure to strike up their own conversations without any extra effort from you.

Which reminds us…

Express Your Brand’s Personality

Creative promotional products that convey a brand’s personality can change the entire destiny of that brand. No exaggeration here, kids.

Take the non-profit Alzheimers New Zealand for example. In 2010, they distributed USB drives inside hollowed out erasers with the message “Alzheimer’s erases your memories. Save them.”

On the other side, they included their name and charity website. These USB drives were passed out to the public and mailed with letters to politicians in order to bring awareness to their cause.

This brilliant promotional marketing campaign won a Silver Design Lion at Cannes International Advertising Festival. Since then, Alzheimers New Zealand has gone from a small local charity to a national organization that continues to fight for a world without dementia.

Now, do you have to win an award with your promotional ideas to bring new customers to your business? Not at all. Creativity just helps make a lasting impression. But if you’re curious, feel free to read more about great swag bag ideas.

Swag Bag Promotional Products Last

Any good marketing campaign takes time to show results.

The good news is, studies show the average person holds on to most promotional products for about eight months.

Social media campaigns have the benefit of showing you specific numbers right away. It’s easy to figure out exactly how many new eyes have visited your website in the past month, or how many people shared your most recent Facebook post.

This is part of the reason most companies pour tons of resources into digital marketing and tend to forget the power of tangible products.

It may not be as easy to measure, but promotional products still have an impact. That’s why the promotional product industry has had a 15.1% five-year growth rate, with $21.3 billion in total sales in the United States. Businesses know it’s hard to beat an 85% return rate on any other kind of marketing investment.

Targeted online ads that only last a few seconds. You’ll get more return for the same money spent on physical products people can touch and cherish.

Other Marketing Tips for Your Start-Up

Promotional products are still an incredible way to market your business. Swag bags especially are a great way to get those products in the hands of potential customers.

To recap, swag bags help you by…

  • encouraging reciprocity and showing your company is generous
  • turning anyone who uses your swag bag products into a brand ambassador
  • giving your brand a chance to express creativity and grab attention
  • putting tangible products in the hands of people who want to see what your business is all about.

We love helping start-up businesses like yours. For even more free information on marketing techniques, money saving tips, and networking, check out our blog.