How to Spot a Swag Swiper

You know the story. You’ve just finished meticulously setting up your table at an important exhibition; all the promotional pens are enticingly laid out, the promotional bags are hung up and waiting and those promotional travel mugs have been placed strategically beside a pile of business cards.

Then from across the room you spot one. Lurking in the corner, looking shifty and uncomfortable as they eye up the tables close by, assessing the goods…it’s a Swag Swiper.

Known to flock wherever exhibitions take place, the Swag Swiper gets a thrill from obtaining as many exhibition freebies as they possibly can. With a severe case of Freebie FOMO, the Swag Swiper has no intention of networking or looking for business. They have only one goal, to sweep past every stand and grab what they can.

A Swag Swiper in Pursuit

There are three common types of Swag Swipers found in the wild:

The Snatch and Run

Perhaps the sneakiest of the Swag Swipers comes in the form of The Snatch and Run. These people have no time to talk or listen to your pitch, they’ve spotted your display of promotional gifts and they want those free pens and notebooks by any means necessary.

Their techniques can vary. Some may sidle up to your table, desperately avoiding eye contact by either being on their phone or pretending to be engrossed with what’s on the table beside yours, but don’t be fooled, it’s your freebies they’re after. Quick as a flash they will grab a pen or a keyring, put it in their pocket and slip away before you’ve even noticed what they’re doing.

Others may go for a more direct approach. They may look you directly in the eye as they casually pass by your table, pocketing what they can on the way past. The Snatch and Run are the most common type of Swag Swipers and can be frustrating to deal with. The best way to deter them is to catch their eye and start your sales pitch. They will either become awkward and walk away, or at the very least stand and politely listen until you’ve finished.

The Faux Inquisitive

The more subtle variety of Swag Swipers are The Faux Inquisitive. These people try their hand at playing someone deeply interested in you and your business. They will swan up to your table, making a show of examining your leaflets or banner and will ask you directly for your pitch.

You may encounter these people and think you have a guaranteed sale on your hands, but don’t be fooled, it’s all in the eyes. The Faux Inquisitive won’t be able to stop their gaze from wandering down to your table to eye up all those enticing freebies. If you’re giving your pitch to someone who can’t stop glancing at your promotional paper blocks, then you’ve got a Faux Inquisitive on your hands.

There’s not much you can do about these Swag Swipers other than finish your pitch as quickly as possible and send them on their way. Who knows, maybe if your pitch is really good you may even manage to sway them to become a customer.

The Brazen Opportunist

These Swag Swipers are the least common type you will encounter but possibly the trickiest; introducing: The Brazen Opportunist. These people are the most direct Swag Swipers, they have no qualms with admitting exactly why they’re attending the exhibition and what they’re after.

The Brazen Opportunist will stroll right up to your table and outright ask you for one of your promotional notebooks with no intention of asking any follow up questions about your business. Once they’ve got what they want they simply walk away and find their next target.

This approach is so shameless and direct that you almost have to give The Brazen Opportunist credit for their honesty. At the very least they won’t waste your time pretending to listen to a pitch or spend time awkwardly loitering around your table. Thankfully, you won’t encounter too many of these kinds of people, especially not at UK exhibitions full of awkward British people.

There we have it, we hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into the world of Swag Swipers. They may be frustrating, but exhibitions are an invaluable part of running a business, gaining contacts, networking and creating a buzz about your brand.


Promotional gifts and exhibition freebies are also an integral part of enticing consumers to your stand. At EMC, we can provide you with a wide variety of gifts personalised with your branding. Take a look at our extensive range on our website and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

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