Between events and trade shows, nearly a quarter of the average B2B marketer’s budget is spent on events, dwarfing all other marketing mix categories, including website and advertising spending. Your customers agree that in-person events are highly influential. For example, in our Q3 2012 survey of business hardware buyers, 68% of respondents state that in-person events are important for researching and evaluating what to purchase.

As an analyst, I both attend and participate in a number of different trade shows, customer events, and industry or role events each year — including our own Forrester Forum For Marketing Leaders April 18-19 this year in Los Angeles. 

No matter what the event, vendors have event giveaways — or swag — for their customers and prospects. Marketing swag — when done right — can help you get the most value out of the events you are already running or attending. How? People will remember you favorably, and that's a good start to a follow-on sales conversation or marketing touch. Unfortunately, many giveaways fail to reach that objective, and waste both time and money.

I’ve created an interactive tool for clients, with three major categories of factors used to evaluate your event giveaways or swag. Consider:

  1. If the swag connects back to your brand message enough to be worth offering it all: The $2 bill test; Company branding; Value alignment.
  2. How valuable and useful the swag is for your intended audience: Usability; Interactivity; Durability; Portability.
  3. How practical the item is logistically: Unit cost; Reusability; Portability.

Questions to consider for each factor are laid out in this graphic:

I’d love to hear what you think about these factors for evaluating your swag, and if you’re a client, click through to read the full report, including best- and worst-practice examples from other marketing organizations and more detailed data about the value of event marketing.