Goodie Bags

Between Christmas and New Year I had an office clear out.  I’d collected quite a few conference goodie bags during the year.  You know the sort of thing – a canvas bag with a logo on it containing the conference programme and papers,  notes from the day plus various freebies from sponsors and partners.  Looking at the contents of these goodie bags gave me pause for thought.

Here are two of my favourite conference ‘goodies’.

goodie bags 2

Firstly the wonderful book of the Academy of Urbanism award finalists, given to every guest at the annual award lunch.  The book is illustrated with line drawings and poems specially composed by the Academy’s resident poet Ian McMillan.  I collect and treasure these books.  The second is a TMI branded memory stick – practical, now well used and blue.  We like blue things here at Blue Sail!

However not all conference organisers, sponsors and supporters appear to think about the impression they make with their ‘goodies’.   Conferences are about networking with likeminded professionals, sharing ideas, acquiring new knowledge and hopefully having a good time too.  Goodies should contribute to that in some way. A fridge magnet is not what I need to complete my professional life, neither is an oversized nail file with a joke on it (yes that is a real example).  So as I look down at the contents of my wastepaper bin, here are a few tips for anybody out there who is asked to provide something for delegate goodie bags.

  1. Tailor it to your audience – like everything in business, the customer comes first. So choose things that will be seen as ‘goodies’ by your audience. They can be good because they are funny, thoughtful, clever or………
  2. Make it useful – people are at a conference.  They will be listening, talking, writing and tweeting.  I know pens and pencils, paper and erasers aren’t imaginative but they are practical and will get used long after the conference is over.  My conference favourite is a fluorescent pink pencil with ‘lead’ made from recycled CDs – it was a great ice-breaker in the coffee queue too – practical AND talked about
  3. Go for quality – that doesn’t mean expensive but if that ‘goodie’ represents your company or destination make sure it reflects the values you want to communicate. Nobody wants to be associated with anything that is regarded as tacky or cheap.  A poor quality item implies that you don’t think the conference or its delegates are worth much
  4. Go for shelf life – you can only eat a chocolate or a biscuit once. So unless you are the conference caterer or a wonderful chocolatier, avoid a very ordinary snack made ‘different’ by your logo on the wrapper. Who wants to see a conference waste bin filled with their logo? Obviously its great if you can include samples of food for delegates to take away and celebrate what is special about food in your destination. At the very least the ‘goodie’, whatever it is, should last a little longer than the conference.  Sorry back to pens and pencils again.

And if all else fails don’t include any ‘goodies’.  Put your efforts into contributing to an excellent and memorable conference by being there and taking part. It isn’t as if we don’t know these things.  We work in a sector that is all about understanding customers, good targeted marketing and encouraging and supporting quality.  So why is my wastepaper basket full?