Estimated read time: 4 minutes
Branded swag can be a nice way for companies to get their names out there while also giving consumers and employees items they might enjoy. But there’s an art and science to how to create swag that is actually useful.
Katie Brunette is in charge of swag at Lessonly and shared some of her tips and tricks on this episode of my podcast.
Examples of good swag
Some back packs people hand out are quite useful and I’ve ended up keeping them.
Pens and notepads. I’m pretty sure all of my pens and notepads are swag from conferences or from hotels.
Some books. There’s value in companies to get their books into swag bags and I’ve read those books before and even when I haven’t (yet) I end up tweeting a picture of the books. They can make good reading materials for the flight home, too, when you pick these up at conferences.
T-shirts. I’m actually a big fan of T-shirts that I can wear in the summer or at the gym. Sometimes I wear t-shirts while in the office. Depends on what’s on deck for the day, you know!
Polos. Many professional businesses now produce branded polos for employees to wear while working. The polos still look professional and are more comfortable than a button down. One place where you can create these is Rush Order Tees, which created polos for my podcast for me.
Shoes. Getting shoes is rare, but the social media conference in western Canada where I keynoted in 2018 gave them to speakers:
I’m still planning on wearing them for other keynotes. Great publicity there for their conference and certainly a conversation starter. I also wore them for my keynote there.
Portable chargers. You know I love my portable chargers and when companies have those in a swag bag I often keep them around as a backup. Most of the free ones that people hand out, though, barely re-charge my iPhone once. Nonetheless, they are good backups.
Hats. I do wear hats at the gym and sitting in my back yard in the summer. So there’s a chance that I might keep hats around – unless they are too cheesy.
Water bottles. I’m a fan of branded water bottles, especially when they are nice. Switcher Studio’s is fantastic, for example. Here’s me unboxing it when they sent it to me.
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How to decide what swag to create?
To get us started, here’s a good example of Voxpopme swag. I would use all of these items.
The Voxpopme goodie bag works, but that’s not always a given.
I’ve played the swag bag marketing game before. And sometimes it works to get your brand in front of people. And sometimes, people just throw it away or glance over things. So what are some ideas to get the most out of our swag bag game as marketers?
As always, consider the goal! What are you trying to accomplish? If it’s conversions, will a t-shirt get you there? I doubt it. If it’s public awareness, a t-shirt with a call to action to tweet a selfie wearing it can however.
Budget: How much money do you actually have to spend. I used to half jokingly tell clients that I could send them that half a million dollar proposal OR they could tell me what their goals are and a ball park budget figure and I could see what could work. Also: Could that money be spend elsewhere and be more effective?
Measurement. How will you know that it worked? If the goal is to get people to post selfies in your T-shirt on Twitter and Instagram, that’s relatively easy to measure. Whether or not people read the flier, not so much.
Swag bag overkill. Some bags have so much stuff in them that it’s truly hard to stand out. Flier upon flier is hardly a strategy to win people’s attention. Even if people look at them, they might spend a 1/100s of a second deciding whether or not to read further. When possible, figure out what all is going to go into a bag. And then figure out how to stand out.
As a consumer I like getting swag that is useful. Always.
As a marketer, I also look what others are doing as part of their swag bag marketing. I only pay attention usually to the innovative stuff, though. 🙂
Some of the discussion on Twitter:
I don't get printed pamphlets or show-guides. These are heavy, costly & end up in the recycle bins. I did this with one of my clients – a note "We want to be useful, like this Amazon voucher. Just think of us" It was the talk of the conf (and cheaper than their usual swag stuff)
— Liron Segev is TheTechieGuy (@Liron_Segev) June 9, 2018
fwiw shirts are hard (sizes, make/female)… socks are all but universal and take less space to bring, also everyone likes fun socks
— Chris Kluis (@ckluis) June 9, 2018
There’s a place for swag and well-design swag that employees and customers wear can even build a community. But, the swag needs to be of the right level quality. I’ve received horrible T-shirts before that I would never wear. So keep all those things in mind and pick the right products that your target audience actually wants to use.