We’ve already covered some tips and tricks for building the ultimate schwag bag, but schwag is so lovable it's worth digging a little deeper and going over some schwag bag essentials that you MUST have in order to get your athletes stoked (and get their race registration for next year’s event).
A Cool Bag
You want to lead off on the right foot, so first things first: you need a cool bag to store all of your schwag. Picking up some paper bags at the supermarket and trying to pass them off as schwag bags? Yeah…not going to fly.
Think about what types of bags your athletes might find the most useful. Drawstring backpacks are a big favorite for storing race gear, or over-the-shoulder bags are a great option for your athletes to reuse as grocery bags (go green!).
If you have a little bit of wiggle room in your budget, you should definitely think about customizing your bags, too. Stamping your logo and the URL to your race registration website on your schwag bags will keep you top of mind with your racers AND help to spread to the word to their other athlete friends. It’s a win-win, and personalizing your bags doesn’t have to cost an arm, a leg and a running shoe (for tips on how to score merchandise on the cheap, check out this post).
Sometimes I hate on protein bars. And that’s because they’re more common these days than a herd of teenagers crossing rush hour traffic to look for Pokémon. But, I have to admit…they’re common for a reason. We need them.
Protein bars are a must for your schwag bag. They have so many different uses - they can be pre-race fuel for your athletes, they can appease screaming toddlers who are sick of waiting with Mom or Dad at bib assignment AND they can keep your hungry runners from staging a full on mutiny if you have an event cancellation an hour before start time due to a freak storm.
Seriously, giving food to your racers will get you out of SO many rough spots. We’re a hungry bunch. Give us protein bars.
In the same line as giving us food, you need to give us something to wash it down with. The last thing you want on your hands on race day is a group of dehydrated runners.
Throw a water bottle in every schwag bag or, if you want to be green, put a reusable water bottle for your athletes to fill up on-site.
The schwag bag is an awesome opportunity for your sponsors to get their products and messaging into the hands of the people they’re trying to reach: your athletes. And this is an opportunity that you and your sponsors aren’t going to want to waste.
Meet with each of your sponsors during the planning stages and brainstorm what they can include in your schwag bag that’s going to have the most impact. Should it be a physical product, like a branded t-shirt or running socks? Or should it be a service, like a free consultation or session? Figure out what makes the most sense from both a financial and an impact perspective.
You’ll also want to ask your sponsors if they’re willing to donate one high value item to raffle off to give your schwag bag an extra bit of pep in it’s step. You can include a raffle ticket in each schwag bag and then give away the big ticket items at the finish line.
Alright my schwagtastic race directors, now that you know the schwag bag essentials, get some bags and start filling ‘em!