More and more events are offering participants cool souvenirs they can take home and show off to their friends and family. As odd as it may seem, schwag can build loyalty and increase your registration numbers. When participants like your giveaways, it creates a positive impression in their minds and builds your brand as an event that offers something special. And that’s the type of reputation you want to have.
So what can you offer your participants? If you don’t have a Nike-sized budget, don’t worry—there are five easy ways you can get schwag without breaking the bank:
1. Sponsors. Sponsors are your best bet for getting some great event schwag. Don’t wait to ask for what you want—negotiate from the beginning and have any agreements included in the contract. While your event may not have tens of thousands of participants, most big brands have a budget for charity/donations, which means you always have a shot. Get creative and focus on trading exposure at your event for some cool participant giveaways.
For example, instead of the more affordable cotton t-shirts, ask a sports apparel company to donate technical t-shirts (or even shorts, socks, any type of gear). Put that company’s logo on the apparel along with your event’s logo, giving them brand exposure while giving your participants a quality item that they will love to wear. Or, get a nutrition company to provide smoothies at the finish line if you give them banner placements along the course, logo placement on the course map, etc.
2. Local Businesses. You would be surprised at how supportive local businesses can be. They understand how important it is to be involved in the community because they depend on it for their livelihood as well. Reach out to local businesses that have deep roots in the area and see what they are able to provide. It can be anything from a free drink at a local coffee shop to a hat from a local sports team. This will drive more people to towards your sponsors’ businesses while giving them brand exposure. Plus, this is an opportunity for create a “tradition” at your race. For example, one half marathon is famous for giving out chocolate bars in the shape of a local fish at their finish line, which are donated by a local chocolatier.
3. Print Publications. The rise of the Internet has caused print circulation numbers to go way down. What that means for you is many magazines are looking for ways to get their publications out there. Get in touch with print publications that align with your event—such as Men’s Health, Competitor Magazine and the like, as well as smaller, lesser know publications that may be popular in your area—and request free copies for your participants. Most publishers are open to the idea because it’s an opportunity for them to reach a new audience when times are tough. Also, your participants will enjoy it because they can read articles and stories about topics that relate to their interests.
4. Consumer Packaged Goods. Think of a few consumer products you like and would be a good fit for your race—maybe a nutrition bar, a sunscreen, or a recovery drink—and then look the company up online (look for a marketing, PR or brand manager contact name). Send an inquiry asking if they have any extra product or close-to-expired goods that they would be willing to donate. These large companies produce goods in bulk and often have “leftovers” they are willing to share, at very minimal or zero cost to you.
5. Promo Agencies or Sampling Companies. Believe it or not, there are companies out there whose sole purpose is to offer product samples – which is good news for you. They act as the middle man between brand names and the public. If a brand wants to test out a new product, they will go to these agencies and ask them to get that product in front of a target demographic of people. If you obtain samples from a promo company, you’ll make their job easier because you are bringing them a built-in audience (plus your participants will get to try out a new product). Google “race sampling company” or “promotional sampling” and see what you can find.
Whatever schwag you give to participants, just remember that it should reflect your brand of a healthy, fun, athletic experience. Now go out and put together a schwag bag that they’ll love!
SEE ALSO: 14 Free Ways to Promote Your Race Online