A Necessary Evil: SWAG

A 2012 Silicon Halton CEO Peer2Peer monthly meeting was kicked off with an interesting opener-topic, SWAG. You know, the often flimsy, cheap paraphernalia that we hope will shine a positive light on your company or products, but too often goes straight from the tradeshow bag into the garbage bag.

The CEO Peer2Peer (P2P) members are relentlessly focused on topics of business value. So why even spend time discussing the merits of swag, which is generally viewed as a necessary evil? The purpose of this opener was to learn from peers what their experience with swag is, what works (if any) and what doesn’t (likely all?). Perhaps we’d learn to abandon swag all together.

What is SWAG’s business purpose?

SWAG purpose is to extend your brand and assist in unaided recall of your company, products or service.

CEO’s report that swag that “sticks around” is what works best. Items that function in a prospects or customers business or personal life, or has a fun-component, will continue carrying your brand and assist in unaided recall. The more useful or more entertaining the swag, the more likely client will remember you on their own.

SWAG is commonly dispensed in two ways: at trade shows or while conducting normal business.

The Trade Show

I think most businesses realize their booth is a mystery novel to the vast majority of tradeshow attendees. Unless you have a new Telsa parked in your booth, how do you lure prospective new clients to your booth? The answer, Swag.

There is a certain expectation within the attendee population at tradeshows that swag can and will be had.

From the vendor’s perspective, for swag to be effective it must pass these 4 events we purchasers make before buying:

  • Be findable – The attendee first must become aware of its existence
  • Interesting – Now that the attendee is aware of your swag, are they interested in it?
  • Desired – As their interest increases, is the swag deemed a prize-worthy such that the attendee feels s/he must have it. We’ve all seen swag that is interesting, but we don’t want it.
  • I must have it – Lastly, interest grows sufficiently to compel the attendee into action. They need to have your swag and therefore make an unplanned stop at your booth. This achieves SWAGs mission.

The other 364 days of the year

Outside of the trade show, as procurers of product and services, it’s nice to receive small tokens of appreciation from our vendor. Resellers or ambassadors for a vendor also like receiving small tokens of appreciation of their efforts. This makes them feel good. They associate feeling good with the company that made them feel good.

The Best Swag

CEO’s shared examples of swag that is reasonably priced, is desired, and allowed them to realize a business advantage. Each of the items would have your company name and/or logo on them:

  1. Tee-shirts / Golf shirts
  2. Making custom swag with 3D printers, for example, memory sticks with the attendee’s company logo embossed on it.
  3. Pens
  4. Portfolio
  5. Silly Putty
  6. Business card holders
  7. Hand sanitizers (works particularly great at trade shows).
  8. Post-it notes
  9. Cell phone speaker
  10. Small screw driver set (ideal for engineers)
  11. Backpack
  12. Water bottles
  13. Items that can be thrown (football, soft frisbees)
  14. Lip-balm

Goes without saying all the above items have your company name and/or logo on them.

If you send me a picture of your best + unique swag, I’ll add it to this post.