Virtual Events Are Driving An Increase In Company Swag Sales


Lisa Folts always has her radar up for new opportunities. And as a PCNA Sales Manager she feels pretty good about a trend that's taken off since social-distancing measures put big gatherings on hold.

"It all started with virtual meetings, and now it's transitioning to virtual conferences and tradeshows," Lisa says. "I just think there's a lot of opportunity."

Naturally, we wanted to know more about these opportunities – so we sat down on a recent Monday morning and Skyped over coffee. Here's what she told us, in her own words.

More Attendees. More Merch.

I know of a company that hosts an industry event every fall. It's a tradeshow and conference with seminars and meetings. They usually have 3,500 to 4,000 attendees, with a swag store that generates almost $100,000 in sales – people are really proud to be part of this event.

Instead of cancelling it, the company moved it to a virtual platform and opened it to 10,000 attendees. Within a few days, registration had surpassed the previous capacity. And instead of the usual swag store, they built an online pop-up shop, which presents a great opportunity for distributors. For one, it's open to a much bigger audience. And instead of having limited styles, colors and men's sizing only, you can increase your offering because you're not holding inventory.

It's not just virtual conferences and tradeshows, either. Think about online pop-up shops for Q4 sales meetings and virtual races too.

Swag Bags Drive Signups

In general, great merchandise can be used to incentivize registrations. It's not unusual for unique gifts with high perceived value to move the needle when people are deciding whether to sign up for a virtual event. Maybe you create a premium gift package available to only the first 500 registrants, or different gift packages at different levels of registration.

And branded merchandise, especially apparel, isn't just for attendees. Think about people hosting, moderators, presenters – anyone customer-facing. It's all about increasing brand visibility and creating pride around an event.

Social #Buzz

Once everyone has their product in hands, it's all about maximizing impressions. It's one thing if they've got an awesome new hoody or jacket they're always wearing around. That's great. But social media can increase those impressions exponentially, especially if the event's got a hashtag everyone can use. The whole key is creating a gift that's cool enough to get everyone really excited, so they want to take that photo and post it on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn for all their followers.

Final Piece Of Advice

Distributors should be going through their event lists and looking at Q4 and even Q1 for 2021, and asking whether clients are going to continue with events. And if they're not, ask whether they've thought about shifting to an online format, explain how seamless it is with the different platforms out there, and let them know about the potential benefits: more attendees, a better variety of branded merchandise and stronger sales.

Putting together a swag bag for your next virtual event? Find it all right here.

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