Though many of the big-ticket events are plotting a return for 2022 — with music festivals like Coachella and Governor’s Ball announcing undoubtedly stacked lineups — there are still many events playing it safe by going (or staying) virtual. While this approach poses less of a potential health risk, it does introduce a new challenge: how can virtual event organizers better engage attendees?
At first, this may seem like a bit of a head-scratcher. How can a virtual event possibly compete with an in-person one? Simple: create thoughtful, exclusive, and impactful swag for virtual event attendees. Whether you choose to opt for tried-and-true custom t-shirts or groundbreaking merch unlike anything the world has ever seen, the right swag can distinguish a memorable virtual experience from your run-of-the-mill livestream.
Here are some ways to ensure your virtual event swag doesn’t miss the mark, brought to you by the experts in all things swag at Real Thread!
Keep it Exclusive
Regardless of how you feel about the hype culture surrounding merch, one thing is for certain: limited product runs succeed in creating demand. So, when you’re having a virtual event swag brainstorm session, keep scarcity in mind. In addition to making lucky attendees feel like they scored some sweet, limited-edition merch (because they did!), the right virtual event swag will make those who missed out envious — ensuring they won’t make the same mistake in missing your event next year. Want to really make your virtual event swag work for you? Instill a sense of urgency in potential attendees by including the ultra-limited merch with only the first 100-or-so tickets.
Think About Your Audience
There are virtual events for pretty much every audience, from design conferences, to Minecraft concerts (yes, seriously) — and just about everything in-between; and not every audience will respond to the same swag. Whereas artist and event lineup merch might engage a virtual concert attendee, those logging on for a design conference might appreciate something a bit more ~curated~. Therefore, be sure to offer swag to virtual event attendees that you’re sure they’ll love! Partner with a featured designer and a local roastery to create beautiful packaging for a unique coffee blend that’s sure to fuel marathon design sessions. When done right, virtual event swag can eliminate the distance between virtual event attendees no matter where in the world they may be logging on from.
Check out our list of 13 Design Conferences You'd Be Crazy to Miss This Year. Some are virtual, but some are live and in person.
Be Strategic with Tiers
Anyone who has attended a paid event — in-person or virtual — is likely familiar with the tiered approach to ticketing. A “silver” pass might be one day, or only keynote speakers, whereas a “gold” tier could include access to a Q&A session or some other interactive element. This same tiered approach can be applied to virtual event swag and can be a great way to offer improved value to attendees of all tiers. Here’s just one way the tier system can be applied to virtual event swag:
- “Silver” Package: Virtual event access, a limited run t-shirt
- “Gold” Package: Everything included in the Silver Package, plus a custom tote bag (first 100 tickets only)
- “Platinum” Package: Gold Package, plus an event-exclusive coffee blend and pour-over kit
While this system (and the swag) will likely change from event to event, the overall goal should be to provide as much value as possible to event attendees — and giving them an experience that rivals an in-person event.
Seamless Fulfillment Process
We all know the feeling — you place an order, and pretty instantly start getting antsy as you anticipate its arrival. Especially given the "moment-in-time" nature of events, you want to make sure you ride the wave of excitement and get your swag out to attendees as soon as possible. Depending on the event, you may even be able to do this ahead of time so that participants can rock their branded swag throughout the conference. Either way, shipping things out quickly will make a great impression on your attendees.
With Real Thread Fulfillment, you can store your goods until you're ready to ship them out to individual addresses, saving you valuable time, space, and money — and creating an efficient and seamless experience for your attendees.
Encourage Social Sharing
Your swag can go a long way in creating camaraderie and excitement around your virtual event — but it can also have a lasting impact outside of it. If your swag is high-quality and the experience of receiving it is a positive one for attendees, you can bet that a good number will take to their social platforms to share their story (and maybe even photos of the goods!). Brand recognition can be a huge game changer when it comes to attracting new business — so don't sleep on the impact this can have!
Looking for more ways to execute your custom event swag? We've got some tips and trips in our post on 4 Ways to Use Swag for Virtual Events.
Partner with the Pros
If creating virtual event swag according to the above advice seems daunting, know you don’t have to go it alone! The team at Real Thread has helped hundreds of businesses, brands, and events create memorable merch, and our custom crew is ready to help you make history with your virtual event swag. Easy-breezy design tools help bring your swag to life, and 20-item order minimums accommodate virtual events of all sizes — from niche networking events to mammoth marketing conventions. You focus on creating a memorable virtual event; the printing pros at Real Thread have got the swag covered.