Not to belabor the point, but 2020 has definitely been a weird year. With many workforces going partially or fully remote, tradeshows and conferences going largely virtual, and opportunities for face-to-face customer interactions limited for many businesses, companies have struggled to find new ways to make meaningful connections with their customers and employees. When everything else feels like it is upside-down, it’s hard to know what to do sometimes. Fortunately, a secret weapon has emerged during this trying time: swag kits.
At Identity Works we have been working with our clients to build custom branded swag kits for years. Whether they are looking for customer or employee engagement tools, a unique way to deliver marketing content, social-worthy branded gift crates, or anything in between, our team works with our clients every step of the way to make their gift kits memorable and their brand look amazing. Below are five tips we keep top-of-mind when partnering with clients to build custom kits. Use this list to help spark ideas for your own project or reach out to us if you’d like to brainstorm. We’re happy to help.
Tip #1: Set a Budget
Let’s address the elephant in the room right away: One tough reality about sending out mass gift kits is that there are additional costs involved that one would not normally have when giving out swag at a tradeshow or all company meeting. Packaging and delivery costs both need to be factored in as part of the “per head” expenses that should be considered when determining the budget for a gift package. Both of these factors are largely driven by:
- What is being sent
- Where it is going
- When it needs to be delivered
Determining the project’s budget early can help shape what the final package will look like in the end. The most cost-effective delivery methods have parcel size and weight limits, which may drive what contents can be included inside the package. Some items, like perishables or fragile products, may have additional packaging or shipping needs which can also impact the bottom line in unexpected ways. For those with less budget flexibility, focusing on one or two smaller, lightweight items that can be sent in a poly-mailer will help keep delivery costs low and allow for more budget dollars to be allocated toward the gifts in the mailing.
When setting a budget for a custom gift kit, it’s also important to keep in mind the costs that aren’t being incurred. In the current environment, budget dollars planned to cover in-person event-related costs like venue rental or food, beverage, and travel expenses are now available to be reallocated directly to your audience’s gift experience.
Tip #2: Find a Theme
Determining the perfect theme for a custom gift kit is all about knowing your audience. A theme will help pull together the kit’s contents and company branding in a cohesive way, keeping it from just being a “box of stuff”. Some of the most popular themes we’ve seen this year include home office essentials, virtual happy hour, spa day at home, tailgating at home, or seasonally appropriate (and social-distancing appropriate) outdoor activities. Some gift kits have focused on a company’s core product or audience, making their brand or product the theme. Others have tied the theme together with the decoration on the products themselves, the packaging, and the kit’s collateral.
One example of a creatively themed custom gift package we worked on recently came from our partners at Altra Federal Credit Union. The goal of their project was to make their remote team’s home office a friendlier space. The kit included fun and thoughtfully chosen branded pieces (mini corn hole game, candle and Bluetooth speaker combo, a mini planter with seeds, and a branded cutting board), as well as a couple practical items (water bottle and no touch tool).
Tip #3: Make it Useful
The best promotional product campaigns are ones that offer long-lasting value for their audience. Research sited by PPAI (the trade organization for the promotional products industry) indicated that people are more likely to hold onto a branded item and think more favorably about the advertiser, if it is an item they can regularly use. Thinking about your audience and focusing on what they can use right now will help make a great initial impression and drive longer-lasting impressions through repeat product usage.
One of our favorite ways to do this is with our new Swag + Snack packs. These packs pair delectable small-batch snacks with ultra-useful swag items, giving the audience something they can love “now”, along with items they’ll continue to use and love long after the food is gone. Other timely additions that can be super useful in our current environment focus on personal health and safety. Face masks, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and no touch tools are all great additions for product kits that can be tied into a theme through their decoration.
A recent project with the team at Imagine Learning offers a strong example of a fully useful gift kit for a virtual conference they were hosting. Their gift not only offered consistent branding, it included a laundry list of products that their audience could use right away: sanitizer, wipes, mask, webcam cover, no touch tools, a power bank, and a cell phone stand. Plus, a set of magnets for fun and a tumbler for the end of conference virtual happy hour!
Tip #4: Make it Personal
Although easy to overlook, personal touches are an extremely effective way to increase the impact of a custom branded gift. Personal touches can take on many forms: They can be an item within the kit that is personalized with the recipient’s name or a card inside the package with a personal message to the recipient. These little touches can be done with minimal impact on the overall budget while making a big impression with the audience! Cards are also a great way to tie the overall theme together by including special graphics in their design. (PSA: Our team can help design cards or any other custom marketing collateral needed if you don’t have the resources)
One of our favorite personalized gift kits came from our friends at Jamf. This gift was simply oozing with personalization. It included a letter from the group’s coordinator, as well as custom branded coffee and tea that felt like it was hand-picked for the recipient. An insulated mug and custom branded sticker rounded out the kit’s contents. The team also coordinated delivery of the gift to arrive extra early, then added a sticker on the outside of the package to build anticipation for the gift’s official opening date.
Tip #5: Focus on Presentation Value
One of our favorite parts of putting together custom gift kits for our clients is the feedback we receive. One thing we consistently hear is that everyone loves a good unboxing experience. For those who have larger budgets and want to focus on a huge “wow” factor, custom printed shipping cartons, custom tissue paper, custom printed ribbon, custom cut inserts (the things that hold goods in place during shipment), or even boxes that include video messages are all effective ways to drive a large response from your audience. For those who want to devote their budget to the products and delivery, small touches like using a nice-looking mailer (such as a white mailer, glossy colored mailer, or holiday-themed “gift box”) and adding elements like branded decals on the outside of the container can add to the perceived value of the mailing. In the inside, using tissue paper or maybe even including nice crinkle or shred to fill the open spaces in the package can also go a long way to transforming the gift from a box with branded items to a social-post-worthy event that will make your recipients fire up their camera and document the unboxing experience.
For those who prefer to focus on minimal packaging and keep everything in the box as useful as possible, another great way to dress up the presentation value is to include a branded bag (think: gift tote, cinch bag, or backpack) as part of your kit. All additional items in the gift can be included inside of the branded bag. For additional presentation value, a custom hangtag can be added on the outside of the bag to drive home the theme and message.
One of the highest presentation value kits we’ve worked on recently was again from our partners at Jamf. The Jamf@Home kit was an appreciation gift targeted toward the company’s employees. The gift featured consistent branding throughout the package. Printed tissue paper and a custom tee shirt hid additional gifts within the box, making it really feel like the recipient was opening a multi-level gift as they opened their package.
No matter the audience, there certainly are a lot of different moving pieces when it comes to putting together the perfect branded gift package! We understand that it can all feel very overwhelming. Lean on our team to find the perfect gift ideas to support your theme and stay within budget. We can help determine the right gift packaging to increase your presentation value and even handle all the shipping and distribution to your audience if you’d like us to. Contact us anytime for a brainstorming session or to talk through some options. We’re here to help!