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The Best Trade Show SWAG for 2020

Yep, it’s Trade Show Season again, and last week I talked about how important trade shows are to your marketing plan, and what elements can provide the biggest R.O.I. for your marketing event budget. This week I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about SWAG - what’s new, what’s trending and how to make the most of your giveaway budget. 

In the world of Millenials and Marie Kondo, less is definitely more. Clutter is the enemy. Trade show visitors, who once grabbed everything they could carry, now flock to branded giveaways that are actually useful. And since Millennials currently dominate trade show audiences, it’s in your best interest to remember that they are not keepers of “stuff.” If an item isn’t useful, it’s history...and so is any positive brand connection.  Think of giveaways items that will be immediately useful to attendees such as tote bags, pens, hand sanitizer and water bottles

Packaging and eco-friendliness of your SWAG will also be a consideration in 2020 for the ‘woke’ crowd. It’s a good idea to look at the materials and sustainability of your giveaways, or they might end up as landfill.

That Was Then

According to research by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the top-selling promotional product categories in 2019 were:

1. Wearables (apparel, accessories)

2. Drinkware

3. Writing Utensils

4. Bags/Wallets

5. Technology

6. Automotive

7. Awards

8. Time (clocks, desk calendars)

9. Desk (USB drives, office supplies)

10. Health (Hand sanitizer, lip balm, etc.)

But a lot can change in a year. The right trade show giveaways can help generate leads and support integrated marketing messages that will prompt attendees to tie that message back to your company long after the show has ended. They also provide the best opportunity for a conversation with attendees, and rare face-to-face time you can use to educate them on your products or services. 

High-performing trade show giveaway items communicate a company’s brand strategy, messaging and capabilities to attendees. Before you select trade show giveaway items, first consider whether or not they support your corporate image, brand character and campaign theme.

Tips for Brand Alignment:

If possible, make sure your trade show giveaway has your company logo printed, etched or chiseled on it and the brand is highly visible. Remember, no matter how awesome the SWAG is, it’s pointless if it cannot be instantly linked back to your brand.

Think of products that align with your brand and industry. This provides a closer association with what your company does, making a bigger overall impact on attendees 

Budgeting for Trade Show Giveaways

Trade show budgets can run the gamut as far as budgeting goes - when you roll in the display booth, staff and accommodation on top of your giveaways, you may be looking at some pretty big numbers. You should be conscious of the costs associated with the trade show giveaway items, including cost per item, taxes, shipping and storage, regardless of your event marketing budget.

Tips for Cutting Trade Show Giveaway Costs:

Expensive and flashy trade show giveaway items might garner the attention of attendees, but you want to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck. Look for inexpensive alternatives that can pack a similar punch.

Shipping can inflate a budget quickly. Consider in advance the size and weight of your items and negotiate free shipping options with your vendor. You can also look for a supplier in the host city to cut down on shipping and import costs. Make sure your staffers don’t hand out SWAG to every single passerby. Instead, make visitors earn it by listening to your pitch, posting a selfie or exchanging a business cards as a means to generate leads.

Top 10 Trade Show Giveaway Ideas

Selecting the perfect giveaway item can be tough, but here are a few of the top picks for 2020, and how they can help you make a big impact on your target audience.

Smartphone Wallet

Photo Source: Debco

Smartphones dominate the mobile device market and are here to stay for the foreseeable future. What better way to provide value to your visitors than offering a smartphone wallet? Make sure the smartphone wallet features your company logo and features your company colours.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • Everybody loves these. They conveniently hold cash, driver’s licenses, debit/credit cards and more on the back of their smartphone.
  • Good space-savers, especially for travel.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Cost-effective and lightweight, smartphone wallets are an inexpensive way to make an impact with attendees.
  • Easily branded, smartphone wallets are ideal for displaying your logo or communicating your brand message.
  • Immensely useful, and likely to be a staple item for anyone who receives one.

Reusable Water Bottles

These days, if you don’t carry a reusable water bottle everywhere you go, you’re not normal. It’s my favourite branded giveaway, because everybody wants them. Eco-friendly and available in a myriad of colours and finishes, as a promotional giveaway on the trade show floor will draw lots of traffic to your space with attendees eager to visit your booth before you run out!

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • You know yourself, walking trade show floors can be thirsty work, so there’s a very good chance they’ll use this immediately to stay hydrated.
  • Reusable water bottles have long lifespan and will be used proudly by attendees long after they’ve returned home.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Branded reusable water bottles aren’t just for trade shows. Smart businesses use them in the office, too, providing extra value, and extra exposure.
  • Reusable water bottles are extremely ‘green’ and will reinforce environmentally-friendly brand messaging, which is known to influence today’s buyers.
  • Potential long-term branding opportunity as reusable water bottles are likely to be used long after the event.

Tote Bags

Attendees will need something to carry all their SWAG in, so branded tote bags are a trade show giveaway staple. Tote bags are also very eco-friendly, and can be used for years after the event is over. It’s estimated that a branded tote bag will average more than 4,000 impressions in a single day of use. That’s a lot of marketing mileage!

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • Useful, especially on the trade show floor as a way to hold swag, brochures, product samples and personal possessions.
  • Replace plastic bags in their everyday lives - carry groceries, lunch, items for work or travel...or a tiny dog!
  • Tote bags constructed from high-quality materials, such as canvass, are durable and last for years with proper care.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Veteran trade show attendees expect to find tote bags on the show floor and will beeline it for exhibitors handing them out.
  • Tote bags can include other giveaways for additional branding and messaging opportunities, such as including brochures, special offer coupons or promo codes. 
  • Tote bags offer large print areas perfect for branding, bold graphics and vibrant colours.

Lip Balm

Photo Source: CanPromos

Who hasn’t suffered from chapped lips? Especially after a day spent networking on a trade show floor. As a trade show giveaway, branded balm will remind attendees of your brand every time they pull it out of their pocket or purse. 

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • Many people use lip balm frequently. Having your logo printed on lip balm can keep your brand top of mind.
  • Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavours and colours, they are perfect for branding.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Inexpensive - great for limited SWAG budgets.
  • If properly stored, lip balm has a long shelf life and can be used from show to show, increasing cost savings and reducing waste.

USB Chargers

Photo Source: Debco

Trade show attendees are working, and need to be in touch with the folks back at the office. Constant communication can take a toll on battery life, which can send attendees away from your booth and scrambling to find the nearest outlet. If you have USB chargers as your trade show giveaway, you can provide attendees a lifeline back home when they need it most.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • USB chargers are portable and easy to use during the trade show.
  • Most USB chargers can charge multiple electronic devices, keeping attendees plugged-in to world at-large.
  • USB chargers are perfect for travel and can be easily packed away in luggage and taken home for future use.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • USB chargers are useful to the majority of attendees, so you will have no problem generating booth traffic by giving them away.
  • USB chargers are a relatively inexpensive but high-impact trade show giveaway that will help you stand apart from competitors.
  • You can select fun colors and add your logo to USB chargers for additional branding and marketing opportunities.


T-shirts are one of the most sought-after trade show giveaway items. Attendees love to hunt down and collect as many free t-shirts as possible while walking the trade show floor. By utilizing t-shirts as a giveaway item, you will ensure that your trade show booth is flush with attendee traffic.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • T-shirts are an easy-to-pack keepsake perfect to take home and wear as workout or lounge clothes.
  • T-shirts present instant value because they can be worn immediately, whether at the show or back at the hotel.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • T-shirts are a giveaway that will be worn around the trade show floor, increasing brand exposure and foot traffic to your booth.
  • T-shirts present lots of room for branding and creative marketing messages.
  • T-shirts are transferable to other family members, getting even more eyes on your brand after the show is over.

Breath Mints

Photo Source: CanPromos

Talk to someone with bad breath for any length of time and that’s all you’ll remember about them. It’s a fear that makes us all cup our hands and exhale deeply before approaching someone. At trade shows, the struggle is real. Attendees will speak with potentially hundreds of people, making breath mint giveaways practical and in demand.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • Breath mints are lightweight, convenient and easy to carry in a purse or pocket.
  • Breath mints help attendees feel more confident while networking.
  • Breath mints are an excellent sharable giveaway item that can be offered to other attendees and co-workers.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Branded boxes of mints ensure that every time an attendee shares them, they are helping promote your brand to a new potential prospect.
  • Breath mints are inexpensive, easy to pack and store and can be used from show to show.

Food and Drinks

Photo Source: M&M

While walking the trade show floor attendees work up an appetite, and offering snacks to visitors who show interest in your booth is a great way to start conversations. Coffee, pretzels, personalized M & M’s chocolates are simple, cost-effective consumable giveaways providing your sales team an opportunity to engage and consult with them.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • After spending the day walking the trade show floor, attendees are attracted to and appreciate food and drink giveaways that can stop their stomachs from growling at an inopportune moment. Besides, the alternatives are expensive concession stands and vending machines. You’ll be doing your audience a big favour.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Food and drink giveaways are great icebreakers and can be a tipping point for passersby debating whether or not to stop by your booth.
  • Food food giveaways can get people talking about your brand, and people will likely seek out your booth just for a bite of something tasty.

Product Samples

If your company makes a cool product, give it away (unless, of course you make Lamborghinis). Giving away product samples to prospective buyers is one of the best ways to show off your wares, while also attracting real, qualified attendees to your booth. Attendees will be more open to sales pitches and follow up meetings if they are able to try out your product right on the floor.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • Product samples give attendees the opportunity to try products first-hand before purchasing them.
  • Attendees will be better educated on your product and can make purchasing decisions with more confidence.

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Product samples are just about the best giveaway in terms of showcasing your brand’s capabilities.
  • If you have multiple products that can be used as giveaways, they can be tiered depending on how valuable certain attendees may be as prospective clients.
  • It’s likely that this is the best choice economically as well, since the costs are in-house.

Audio Devices

Photo Source: Debco

Audio equipment, like Bluetooth speakers and headphones, are great trade show giveaways because they can – and will - be used outside of the show. Make sure headphones and earbuds come in branded cases, otherwise the recipient may forget where they came from.

Why Attendees Love Them:

  • Bluetooth speakers and headphones can be used right away by attendees on the show floor or back in the hotel room and can be great gifts for the folks back home.
  • Headphones can be a lifesaver if attendees forget to bring their own – especially on the plane, or in the hotel room they’re sharing with a snoring co-worker!

Why Exhibitors Love Them:

  • Headphones and speakers can be customized to feature your logo and your brand’s colors.
  • Headphones and speakers can be reserved for “VIP” clients or prospects to incentivize better quality prospects to engage with.


Picking the perfect trade show giveaway items can be challenging at times, but when done right, you will be sure to net amazing returns in both booth traffic and engagement with your brand. Keep your goals and budget in mind and you're sure to dazzle!

Mike Vieira, Owner
Minuteman Press Whitby

ThinkGlobal. PrintLocal.


Most Popular Wedding Invitation Papers and Printing Techniques 2020 - January 15, 2020

It’s almost Wedding Season, and time to get all the big, important stuff scratched off your (ever-growing) to-do-before-I-do list. Most magazines and wedding planners will tell you that when it comes to the uber-important wedding invitations, sooner is always better than later, especially if you’re designing your own.

In the age of cookie-cutter online invitation ordering, true romantics, traditionalists (and probably your Nana) understand that a wedding invitation is meant to evoke an emotional connection with the Bride and Groom. Assuming you don’t share the same emotional connection with the other 1500 couples who ordered the identical invitation online, you’ll want to step up your stationery game with something custom designed just for you.

Custom wedding invitations are most graphic designers’ dreams, just because they get to play with such beautiful elements and printing techniques, creating a piece of art that isn’t part of the usual workflow. From luxurious calligraphy fonts and swashes to sparkly things, textured paper stocks, and fabulous bling - designing wedding cards and invitations can be a lot of fun (and often a huge design challenge!)

Whether you’re meeting your designer or print expert in person or browsing examples online, you might find yourself confused and somewhat overwhelmed by all the choices available to you—and whether or not they’ll work with you (and your budget). Then there are the printing techniques—embossed, foil-pressed, letterpressed, raised—the choices are daunting.

To help you decide what wedding invitation combination is right for you—for your budget and style—here are some of the most popular invitation papers and printing techniques.

Invitation Papers:


For eco-friendly, boho or rustic-style weddings, Recycled paper made of repurposed materials, is the perfect stock for you. Recycled papers are anything but shabby - invitations printed on recycled paper come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and in formats like kraft cardstock and pulpy, handmade papers.

Cotton Fiber

As its name implies, this paper is made from cotton, typically from cotton linter or used cloth. Many couples choose cotton paper for its strength and durability, and the softness to the touch. Cotton paper absorbs ink better (thanks to strong fibers) and makes coloured inks appear richer, more vibrant.

Linen Finish

A linen finish paper is a high quality, cotton blend paper with a textured, slightly crosshatched surface—with a fabric-like feel (hence the name). This incredible paper finish provides an elegant look and feel to invitations and stationery.


Once made from animal skin, today vellum is made from a blend of cotton and wood pulp. Vellum is semi-transparent, like tracing paper—it is sheer and frosted, and layered on top of an opaque sheet of paper. Whatever you call it, it all refers to smooth, delicate paper you can see through. It comes in many colors, weights, brands, and even textures. It’s unique, versatile and has endless uses in the stationery, paper-craft, packaging and design world.


The glassine trend continues as couples are choosing to use this light and waxy paper as envelopes or envelope liners, overlays, pouches, and other invitation suite accents, rather than for the wedding invitation itself. Glassine is typically see-through but can hold ink well.


If you’re looking for something more durable —super-thick, sturdy, heavy-duty cardstock —consider going with a board wedding invitation. Typically made with three layers of paper, and with a cotton texture, they will definitely not bend in the mail (despite how hard the post office tries).


Everyone loves sparkly things! Pearlescent paper has a bit of a shimmer finish on top for an added elegance, like tiny glistening diamonds If you’re using a photograph on your invitation, it adds a soft glow to your image.

Talk to your local printer about different papers, weights, and colours. You really have to see them up close and feel them for yourself in order to make the right decision. Your designer and printer can help you choose the best combinations for your style, your message and your day.

Along with the paper options, you’ll need to decide on a printing technique. Here are the most popular wedding invitation printing options:


Thermography, also known as Thermographic Printing, Raised Ink Printing and Offset Thermography, is a cost-effective alternative to achieve a raised effect similar to engraving and embossing. Thermography is widely regarded as an appealing and preferred printing process that adds prestige to any printed piece. In thermography, ink is mixed with a special powder and applied with heat for a painted-on look.


The wedding invitation classic! So elegant, it’s hard to resist. This technique is appealing to both the sender and the receiver. To achieve raised letters, the paper is pressed between an inked plate and a metal plate to punch the text upward from the underside of the card. It allows texture, and readability from the ink.


This style is both classic and modern. Letterpress is the fine art of a historical printing process perfected over centuries. Today, letterpress wedding invitations begin as digital designs, which are sent to film as a negative and then exposed to a polymer plate (the modern-day "metal" plate). Individual sheets of paper are fed through the press. Because of the difficulty in the technique, letterpress tends to be more on the pricey side.


Another crowd favourite, embossing is similar to engraving in that paper is pressed upwards to create texture. With embossed invitations, the text or graphic that has been pressed remains colorless, which is why it is typically reserved for the graphics of the invitation so guests can still read the details. Foils are often used with embossing to create an incredibly luxurious look to invitations.

Foil Stamping

Add shine to your wedding invitation suite with this trendy printing technique. Foil stamping is a specialty printing process that uses heat, pressure, metal dies and foil film. The foil comes in rolls in a wide assortment of colors, finishes, and optical effects. Metallic foil is most commonly seen today – particularly gold foil, silver foil, copper foil, and holographic metallic foils – but foil rolls are also available in solid colors in both glossy and matte finishes.


This flat printing style is your most cost-friendly option. Using a high-quality printer, designers can create a beautiful invitation in very short turnaround time. The greatest difference between digital printing and traditional methods such as lithography, flexography, gravure, or letterpress is that there is no need to replace printing plates in digital printing, whereas in analog printing the plates are repeatedly replaced. This results in quicker turnaround time and lower costs when using digital printing, but typically a loss of some fine-image detail by most commercial digital printing processes. 

Regardless of the choices you make, be sure the first choice is to have your finished invitations printed professionally by a reputable printer, like Minuteman Press Whitby. Visit us at for all your design, branding and printing needs.

Top 5 Print Marketing Trends in 2020 - January 10, 2020

Staying on top of current and future trends is integral for business and organizations of all sizes. That means staying on top of industry, target market, graphic design, and print marketing news is the only way to ensure that you are presenting yourself and your company as cutting edge and stimulating versus outdated and basic. Researching and understanding the design and print marketing trends that will get results in 2020 is crucial for corporate and small business success.

Don’t fret, we’ve got your back. Here are a few of the upcoming 2020 print marketing trends and some tips to get started with implementing them into your marketing strategy.

I’m Back, Baby!

First of all, the rumours of Print’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Print is back, and more versatile than ever. While digital and social media marketing has been taking the lion’s share of most marketing budgets, more and more savvy advertisers are making room for print. Why? Effectiveness.

Depending on where someone lives and how much time they spend online, a person will usually be exposed to somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 online ads per day.

Out of the thousands of images, how many will you actually remember after the first hundred or so? The answer is, probably none. Research has shown that leveraging print marketing will create a more memorable message and longer retention for your audience. Printed marketing pieces trigger a stronger emotional response, and people are more likely to remember a printed advertisement even after one week of seeing it. In short, the human brain can connect much more easily with printed information compared to the online version.

Call Me

Creating print marketing that captures the reader’s attention is one side of effective marketing. Vibrant colours, touchable textures, and design creativity go a long way in grabbing audience attention. Creating Calls to Action (CTAs) that really do compel action is another. Like your Tinder profile, you need to make your CTA just as enthralling and impossible to resist. Use every opportunity to add a Call to Action to your print and marketing campaigns that create a sense of urgency and lead to a sale.

Colour Me Crazy

Color plays a huge role in how your business is perceived and understood. It evokes emotion, inspires action, soothes and relaxes, and tells a story. The way colors transition into each other is key to helping catch and keep the viewer’s eye. Colors speak a language words just can't replicate. That is, they communicate with us on an emotional level and therefore more effective at persuasion.

One up and coming trend for 2020 is the use of Neon – on business cards, logos, and promotional products. These items catch the eye with their bright and beautiful color schemes. They are best for those who prefer boldness over subtlety. In a world of black and white, text-heavy marketing pieces, these designs let the bold colors do all the talking.

Long Live the King

One of the biggest print marketing trends for 2020 is its connection with digital marketing. Both forms of marketing are here to stay – so ensuring they work together, complement each other, and create an in-house and public marketing unity is a must. Think of each form of marketing as an extension of the other and work to create print marketing pieces that mimic your website, social media profiles, and other forms of your online identity. In a world where Consistency has always been King, consistently evolving your marketing efforts for efficiency, saturation and reach is Emperor for Life.

Appropriate Touching

One of the huge advantages of print over digital marketing is its capacity to engage at least two of the five senses. That ability to see and touch a business card, marketing postcard, or product tag is important in this day and age when online marketing is taking physical touch away from consumers in many ways. In fact, tangibility is so important that an entire field of tangible marketing exists. It extends from paper and card products to banners to imprintables and SWAG. This trend goes hand-in-hand with new options for coatings and finishes; artisan printing techniques and embossing and etching.

These designs also mix an old-timey feel with modern methods. The act of carving or stamping—with laser or by hand—suggests permanence and dedication. This method turns the business card into an object to behold.

Getting Started

Ready to implement some of these trends into your upcoming strategy, or just looking for some advice on where to start? At Minuteman Press Whitby, we’re not just a commercial printer—we’re skilled marketing specialists. We can help you every step of the way: planning, design, budgeting, copywriting, printing and delivery - we make sure you exceed your business goals. Contact us today to speak with one of our design and print experts on getting your next big thing off the ground!

Wishing you every success in 2020!