Using Swag to Increase Engagement

What are ways you can create engagement for your virtual event? Joseph Sommer of Whitestone Branding uses kits to help! Check out this episode for kitting 101 and some great ideas for future events.


Tell us about you.

I’m a swag guy. Our business Whitestone branding we help awesome companies create awesome products. I have wanted to do this since I was 19 years old. I went to culinary school and didn’t like it. I went to summer camp and met a guy selling swag from his blackberry and I thought who are you and what are you doing. I was sold. I was like this is it. This is what I am going to do. I went back to college, built my business plan and promotional products and I have been booked ever since.

At Whitestone branding we work with predominately experiential marketing and event production companies to help them produce awesome swag for their events, activations for pop ups. Because of COVID in March our business took a big hit, April we were down 98% and pivoted fast to virtual kitting experiences.

What are some ideas you’ve had to come up with?

The first thing, when you are looking to buy swag for any opportunity, It should check out two out of these three boxes:

1. Surprise and delight: Does the product make you smile, invoke a feeling?
2. Will you use the product?
3. Do you like it enough you are going to regift it if you already have one?

If you can check off 2 of those 3 you have a successful swag piece. In the world of virtual, some of the challenges we have been helping with is how do you do that within a box? This whole landscape has given us a seat at the table, before we didn’t have a lot of say. Now we are helping our event professionals create wow kits that are making people feel engaged to the brand like never before.

What is your discovery process to hit two of those three points?

Our process is really about finding out the purpose of the event. And finding out a little more about the audience and how the event managers and producers are trying to create engagement. Swag compliments that.

How do you budget per person?

That’s a great question. We have a lot of experience in helping clients figure out the budget. Now you don’t just ship one piece of swag to a conference/hotel. You have to ship 500 kits to 500 homes. Usually the budget is just like when you ship with the postal service, it can range from $5-20 depending on the weight. The budget goes away really quickly with the shipping. Because it’s virtual and you don’t have to pay fees for catering and the meeting space, you really have to think of the shipping as an individual line item, additional to the swag.

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