I have a longtime friend who works in academia. She travels a lot, to fantastic locations for all-expenses-paid conferences and we have a tradition whereby for any new place she visits, she has to send me a selfie outside an Irish bar, and a selfie with the obligatory piece of awful, commemorative tat from her conference goodie bag.

In the past six months, her conference swag has consisted of: a crystal owl, laser-etched with the date and title of the conference; a posh leather notebook embossed with the conference logo; a biro and screwdriver hybrid which its packaging claims is a ‘smartpen’; a fancy, engraved USB flash drive with a hopelessly small memory; and a commemorative paperweight.

This is all stuff that was bought in bulk and paid for out of a marketing budget. And for the most part, it's useless. Nobody wants a paperweight anymore. Did anyone ever want one? The only use I can perceive for a paperweight is for murdering people. A good number of 'Murder She Wrote' and 'Columbo' victims fell foul of a hefty paperweight, so they're clearly a go-to weapon for the kind of person who has a study in their home.

If your company has a marketing budget for promotional items, do something better with it! Something useful, and eye-catching, that leaves the right kind of impression.

Bespoke printed bags are one of our absolute favourite bespoke promotional business accessories. Here’s why:

Custom Tote Bags - Because It’s What’s On The Outside That Counts

customised tote bags for businesses

Unlike other pieces of customisable clothing or kit, a bespoke printed bag is ALWAYS on show with your colours, patterns and logos. This alone should make a customised bag REALLY high on your list of promo freebies if you're after more brand exposure for your buck.

A custom marketing t-shirt or bespoke team hoodie will often be covered up by another layer, but a bag is always going to be worn over the top of clothes, so it's going to be seen by literally hundreds of people a week. Next time you're on public transport, or walking around any town or city, count how many printed cotton shopping bags  you spot, printed up with the details of a business conference. A walk around any decent sized town or city will also offer up a huge amount of cotton tote bags slung over shoulders too. The point is, if you give people something useful, they wil use it - and they won't mind advertising for your company at the same time. And because a cotton shopping bag is seen as a 'permanent' item instead of a 'disposable' carrier bag, it's instantly more desirable for potential marketing leads.

One Size Does SOMETIMES Fit All

One of the more challenging factors when considering custom clothing, whether it be a bespoke sports kit or piece of custom marketing campaign apparel, is that you need a range of sizes. If you're using something like a promo t-shirt as a giveaway, that's going to involve a lot of guesswork about how many of each size you’ll need. A custom printed bag is ridiculously easy and the only numbers you've got to get involved in are to do with how many you need to satisfy your demand.

As well as dodging the measurements issue, custom promo bags make life simple because you do not need men’s women’s and children’s versions. One bag for the people!

Custom Messenger Bags - King Of The Conference Swag!

printed lsptop messenger bags for conferences

Customised messenger bags offer the same practicality as custom totes: perfect dimensions for paperwork, great for carting about other freebies from conferences, ideal for adding branding to . . . but promotional messenger bags add an extra level of durability and function.

The tough fabric, waterproof outer, comfort strap and internal pockets make our messenger bags ideal for carting laptops from talk to talk; it's the reason their one of conference attendees most favourite goodies. Bespoke messenger bags are increasingly popular as stock for university campus shops too.

A Global Messenger (Bag) Service

One of the reasons conference attendees love bespoke conference laptop messenger bags so much is because the dimensions are allowed on flights - a really, really important consideration when ordering any conference or exhibition swag, or marketing and promo items in general.

Just imagine the places your brand message can go if it’s put on a cabin-friendly bag!

A Custom Bag Of Tricks

Cotton shopping totes may not be the newest innovation or latest trend in custom promotional goods, I mean, they're pretty much everywhere. And that's exactly the point - they're EVERYWHERE because people love using them. They're light, fold up really small to fit inside another bag, and they're a shining light against the dark march of the carrier bag charge. They're the perfect second bag. And with the amount of stuff people need to tote back and forth to work - lunches, paperwork, office shoes to swap for commuting trainers . . . a lightweight second bag is a very useful thing.

The dimensions of both the cotton totes and the messenger bags make them ideal for exhibitions too. If you have company literature that you're trying to get into the hands of potential customers, put it in a custom cotton tote! The other added benefit in particularly competitive exhibitions is that your branded marketing tote can literally swallow up the competitors’ branding. Sure, fancy pens, reusable coffee mugs and printed-up phone chargers are awesome freebies, but they're going straight into a tote bag with your company logo on, probably never to see another potential customer again!

Print With A Purpose

Our bags LOVE being printed up with brand messages and company logos. They’re a perfect, blank rectangular canvas, just like a business card is. In fact, that’s a great way of thinking about our made-to-order bags - a giant business card! We offer the latest printing technologies, pantone colour matching and quick and easy logo upload. Our design team is on hand to help you, free of charge, so that can create something that makes a real statement.

After all, you should aim to add value with your customisation. There is an argument that the crystal owl could have been a nice keepsake (or a perfect candidate for regifting) before the laser etching machine got involved. Ruining pretty things with your branding is definitely not the way to go.Your custom designs should enhance you promotional goodies, not make them random and pointless. Small, subtle designs instead of whopping great logos will make your conference and exhibition bag swag classier, less ‘markety’, and much, much more likely to be used in the future.

So to sum up: your conference swag needs to be light, portable, functional, memorable, and get your message across. Basically, the opposite of a paperweight.