The Ins and Outs of Event Goodie Bags

We all have them… the secret stash of event and conference goodie bags lurking at the back of the closet. Chances are you don’t even remember what most of them contain. Admittedly, we all take one peek inside the bag, browsing for that kitsch-looking pen you can keep in your handbag or briefcase for emergencies. Everything else is of little interest. Over the years, goodie bags seem to have become little more than a formality. Like the cursory bag of stale Jordan almonds at a wedding reception. With just a little forethought, they could be so much more.
Promotional bags and products are a $19.4 billion industry. It’s about time event organisers started putting in a little more effort.

Top 5 No-No Items

To make things simpler, it’s worth eliminating the following 5 items from any goodie bag list:

  • Pens
  • Tote Bags
  • Mousepads
  • Stress/Foam Balls
  • Random office supplies
  • Wristbands (or anything clothing besides t-shirts)

These are items that no one wants or needs. It’s time to start thinking of guests as human beings with a real life beyond the event.

Get a Little Personal

Event bags are the organiser’s way of thanking guests for attending. Quite obviously, it is impossible to personalise each bag for each individual guest. There is, however, a way to make the bag an integral part of the event experience.

Event Manager Blog suggests the following:
“Set a goal that you want the bag to achieve. Just giving people a place to stash junk and office supplies is a wasted opportunity.
Communicate the strategy to workshop leaders and exhibitors. Enlist them in the plan.”

Try to think of travel-sized gifts that attendees might think of as a little luxury. “Usefulness” can sometimes be overrated. People like to feel special – it makes for a memorable event.

Avoid a Design Faux Pas

Style should never be overlooked. Goodie bags should have a little bit of a designer feel. If you can swing it, aim for a recyclable material in an effort to keep the event eco-friendly. Work in your CSR wherever possible.

Aim for a “dynamite in small packages” vibe. Keep it vibrant, punchy, and eye-catching but remember that your guests will need to lug the bag around all day. Bigger isn’t always better, but beauty certainly wins out.

Online vs Offline Marketing… It's a Balancing Act, Not A Choice

The focus of the modern marketing environment has become increasingly online-based, with all types of campaigns running simultaneously via multiple channels – unfortunately leading to the inevitable neglect of an ‘old faithful’ marketing style. Offline marketing has big potential to be coupled with online marketing strategies in order to produce a holistic corporate presence that transcends an urgent dependence on the Internet.
Unifying your Marketing Strategy is your Best Chance for Survival

In 2013, Andy Lombard posted an article on that is even more pertinent today than it was then. Lombard pointed out a major problem facing companies that adopt separate strategies for online and offline campaigns, often run by completely different departments; “Those silos only exist inside marketing departments. The customer’s mind perceives one continuous brand.” The key challenge here is the need to retain the customer’s attention, despite the fact that modern consumers experience multiple marketing channels within moments of each other.

Real-World Events Offer an Opportunity to Make a Lasting Impression

There are multiple combinations that can be explored to find the right balance between online and offline presence for individual businesses, however there are a few tips that remain universal. The best advice in the current climate is to combine online and offline marketing strategies into a unified message. highlights the importance of real-world, offline events, which can be promoted online via social media or other such marketing channels. It’s also important to bring examples of your real-world customer interactions back to the online environment, to build interest in your offline events once again. The nature of this approach is reasonably cyclic, with one aspect feeding into another. The beauty of offline events is that they are a great content creation opportunity, building public interest on a level clients and potential clients can relate to.

Stop Hiding Behind Automation and Get Personal

Another great notion by is to remove those impersonal automated email responses, and take the time to respond physically to enquiries, which can then be summarised in a follow-up email. The rapid shift to the online world seems to have left a somewhat bitter aftertaste in the mouths of customers, who are beginning to yearn for a more personalized customer service experience.  Another key example of including an offline touch in an online sale comes from eyewear retailer Warby Parker (, who pioneered the tactic of posting a number of frames for their potential customers to try on at home, to ensure proper fit and comfort. This made all the difference for the company who are now valued at approximately $1.2 billion.

Become Dependable on Multiple Channels

The concept works the other way around as well, as pointed out by who say, “Your websites should carry social media buttons, so that people are encouraged to share, implant, tweet, and email to help your website gain social traction.” The idea is to gain as much real estate within the customer’s circles as possible, retaining prominence in their mind and growing in influence. A high social media presence can be combined with offline reliability to create a sense of trust in your brand, in turn building customer loyalty. Over time, customer-relationships can be deepened as they learn that your company is dependable via any channel, whether online, or in the real world.

Experience-Focused Events – A Major Trend for the Foreseeable Future

Goodman Lantern - Experience Based Events -Blog

The corporate world is continuously evolving as new people, companies, and ideas enter the market. Younger generations are forever influencing the business world as they grow older, eventually joining the ranks and continuing to precipitate change from within. With each new generation, comes new progression and a slightly different set of values – ultimately necessitating a review of old practices in the interests of staying current. As corporations and their employees evolve, so do their requirements from their company, especially when targets have been reached and exceeded. Accordingly, the old faithful corporate event scenarios have become tiresome, making way for new ideas to keep attendees engaged. SparkSight’s Jessica Martinez suggests the strategic use of 4 interactive social tools; photo booths, a live social feed wall, games, and even mobile apps.

Tina Benson of Team Tactics made the point perfectly, stating that, “What an event brings to delegates and attendees is, by definition, an experience.” The key difference between a standard event and an experience is sheer depth of impact. Quirky, cleverly organized events are the new direction that the corporate world is moving towards, replacing the overplayed fallback of hiring a ballroom and a band. To make a lasting impression on event attendees, the focus needs to be on engagement – a sense of community, purpose, and belonging. In an article for the Huffington Post, Louis Efron uses his father’s career with IBM to communicate the importance of total immersion in making employees feel like they belong to a larger family. In Efron’s case, IBM got it right; “My father worked there for 18 years when I was young and I still fondly remember IBM’s two annual events.”

In a recent article, Al Wynant (CEO of Eventinterface) said, “With events becoming more experienced-based, planners are now…engaging attendees through the full lifecycle of the event.” This engagement can be made possible by enveloping attendees in a venue that has been themed to create a cohesive and convincingly unique experience for all. It’s not just about the décor, when it comes to structuring a successful event – another important consideration is the ROI for attendees. Return on Investment, in many cases is completely dependent on the type of company, attendee profile, budget, and many other considerations. In some instances it may be enough to simply offer a visually striking venue and great entertainment, while in some cases it makes sense to offer more, especially if the money is there to back it up.

It’s not only the large scale companies that have the ability to produce a memorable event – with some careful planning and imagination, smaller budgets can be utilized to great effect. James Timpson of recommends starting the planning process by defining the message that the event will deliver: “Your objective will dictate how you will budget and you’ll be able to identify areas where you are can compromise to cut costs.” By cleverly reducing costs in key areas, it will become possible to channel more cash toward the key aspects that make up the backbone of the event.