No Tote Bag? What about a Polybag?

If you were to look at a conference’s sponsorship prospectus in 2019, you’d probably see a lot of “tried and true” offerings that often get scooped up very quickly.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic required an immediate shift to virtual events, sponsorship prospectuses ended up in the trash. Lanyards, hotel keys, tote bags and escalator signage are just a few “high-impact” opportunities that were no longer viable offerings for a virtual conference.

Initial efforts focused on ways to recreate components of a live event, such as a virtual exhibit hall or virtual industry symposia. But the big problem with both has been attendance and ROI. Many virtual exhibitors reported little to no traffic at their virtual exhibit booth. And industry symposia were sometimes poorly attended because a virtual platform doesn’t create that “captive audience” that a live event does. And after 4-6 hours of viewing education sessions, an attendee may just have hit their limit for the day.

So then there was a movement towards digital marketing. These may include:

  • Advertising on virtual meeting platforms and conference apps
  • Sponsored email blasts
  • Advertising in digital daily newspapers (show dailies)
  • Advertising in email newsletters sent during a conference
  • Website advertising

Most of these, however, were focused around the conference schedule. What about opportunities that connect exhibitors with attendees, before the virtual event even begins?

Don’t Overlook Print

So we began to think about what other communication vehicles could both help meeting organizers promote their money while also connecting exhibitors with their target market, and generate non-dues revenue.

The initial idea was to produce a printed preview issue of a conference newspaper, which would be mailed directly to attendees at their home or office. Editorial content would include session previews, meeting news, schedules and other highlights…with the hope that they would refer to it throughout the virtual event. Exhibitors saw this as an appealing advertising opportunity, and interest has been strong.

Then we thought about ways to further monetize the publication…and the tote-bag insert came to mind. Tote-bag inserts typically are a very popular item that sells out very quickly. So our thought was, if we were to polybag the printed preview issue, it offers the opportunity for postcard inserts to be included with the publication…basically recreating the tote-bag insert.

Initial response from our clients and prospective clients has been very strong.

And, if you then convert this publication into a digital issue and distribute it via email, you can generate additional revenue through advertising opportunities in an email newsletter.

Why Work with CustomNEWS?

Before you rule out this idea as “too much work” or “too expensive,” contact the CustomNEWS team. We have go-to vendors that will take the guesswork out of everything. And we’ll handle as much as you need us to, which can include advertising sales, editorial content curation and production. We’ll also oversee printing and mailing of the publication.

Would you like to discuss our fee-for-service or royalty models? Please contact us today,, to learn more!

Leave a Reply