"Durant Not Sloan," best schwag on the planet, from California of course: http://www.cafepress.com/durantschool.
I remember that in the 90s, there was a lot of superstition around creating t-shirts for your startup. Most people I knew thought it was tempting fate and that if you made shirts, you would go under. I wonder if that idea is still around today.
Great article, as usual.
I have been in the schwag (swag) biz since 1985, and I agree with your thoughts, especially in the idea that better selectivity allows you to stretch your budget--while giving you the budget for better gifts for important decision makers.
I usually suggest an A-B-C approach at trade shows: C gifts for everybody that comes into your booth. Nominal value.
B gifts for better prospects.
A gifts for prime prospects/clients/media.
Keep the A & B items out of view from public, and present with showmanship.
More ideas on trade show schwag at tinyurl.com/3agcy6j
I don't think it's legal to give out "schwag" unless you live in CA or Madison., WI:
adj. Term used to describe low grade marijuana. This type of marijuana is usually brown, seedy, dry. The term is also used by many pot heads to describe anything that is low grade. noun. low grade marijuana
Swag - however - is a different story. What you been smoking Jason ;)
Steve Ludin is correct. Schwag and swag are not the same thing.
Schwag is marijuana.
SWAG (stuff we all get) are promotional items given out for free.
For those pointing out the swag vs. schwab error -- it's actually my fault.
Having done some quick research online, determined that although the "official" term is "swag", the term "schwag" (even in this context) is much more common. We went with the more popular, commonly used variation.
For the record, Jason had it right when he wrote the article -- I changed it.
I was seriously considering issuing pen Schwag but after reading your article am seriously thinking of spending my money elsewhere. Whatever happened to those fluffy balls with the ribbon tags that everyone had stuck to the corner of their monitor once upon a time?
I'm glad you posted this. I completely agree that the shirt has to be of high quality... crappy shirts simply are... crap.
We bought nice shirts for our startup ($15 each @ 20x) and it was well worth it. So many people have commented on how much they love the shirts!
Can you guys post a high-res logo for OnStartups?
I also like swag where the medium is the message. We make an OTC needle pain reliever called Buzzy, and distraction materials. Our swag is a yellow kazoo: it buzzes, blowing out decreases pain, and annoying everyone is a GREAT distractor from pain! Plus, kids all over trade show halls are bringing attention to us. (the latter may not be all good) -Amy
I was at an event a month ago where they were giving away a knitted monkey head hat from Mailchimp. It was pretty great!
So right to think out of the box.
Those cotton pom poms are very cool and retro. Here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/2g3qzld
T-shirts are overused, as are pens. 2GB -4GB USB flash drives and flash drive pens are very popular, as are messenger bags and neoprene iPad sleeves.
We use MailChimp because of the cute high-quality vinyl stickers they gave out when sponsoring Ignite Atlanta. The name stuck, so to speak, and our kids have it on their binders.
Also, Kazoobie manufactures our Kazoos in the USA and a link to the pictures of them is <http://s58264.storefront-solutions.com/prod-KAZOO__10_PACK_-19.aspx>
A T-Shirt is a exclusive wear when we have some message written on it/them:
Hope sees the invisible achieves the impossible !
This slogan has the potential to boost anyone's spirit and can be a guiding and motivating one for all. Hope to hear from all who read this message.
Great article, some additional points to consider when buying schwag...
1) 83% can identify the advertiser on schwag they own
2) 41% have a more favorable opinion of the advertiser after receiving schwag
3) Know your audience, for example males are more likely to own shirts and caps, while females are more likely to have bags, writing instruments, calendars and health and safety products.
4) Promotional bags have the highest number of impressions.
Thanks for the article. - Scott
Is there a deadline for the contest?
After 18 years in the promotional products industry there is no perfect swag. Best thing is to get an experienced sales person and figure out what the message you want to get out and what medium is best to say it. Also important is e-mail and blog marketing supported by social media
I'm a firm believer in useful -- and "viral." Post-it notes with the logo and slogan on the sheet itself, not just on the sides of the stack. This way when people use them, the person receiving the post-it also gets our message. Sheet magnets with a great design have worked. People tend to leave them on file cabinets, or if consumers, on refrigerators. Ditto bagclips with magnets -- they hang around people's homes for years. Finally, we had fun with club cards--on one side was the URL for the 18-25 site that hadn't launched yet, and on the other, the message, "Don't go there." Of course, lots of people did, and found "I thought I told you not to come here...but as long as you're here, do you want to give your email address so we can let you know when we do launch?"
Maybe because I sit at my PC all day I like schwag (yes that is the more common spelling) pens. I have to admit that if I was still a road warrior they wouldn't be as likely to not get lost.
I make it a point to pick up something small I can keep near my desk for companies I recommend frequently. I keep a jar full of their pens so I have their company name, phone number and Web URL handy. Make your pen distinctive in shape or color so I can grab it during a phone call or when typing an email or in chat.
Anything useful that a PC user would keep near their keyboard (mouse pads, keyboard rests, pens, a stress ball (good for loosening up your fingers too) - that is the kind of schwag I could use.
i owned a goldman sachs T shirt for just over 12 years before it fell apart... its was a high quality beefy T 100% cotton, with a iconic small logo on the front (not back) i wore it running, or when i was out and about in casuals ... how much would 12 years of advertising cost ... go for a iconic ageless small logo and high quality ... it will pay long term ...
I agree with Robert Piller about "varying" swag for intended users/decision makers and Steve Ludin about "schwag" because I used to reside in CA....
Just to name a few of the best swag items I've received: T-shirts (the right color and/or slogan says it all!), Pens- good quality ones that you actually will keep & use, Note pads/post-its- with company name, slogan, URL, etc, A coupon/card of some sort for something FREE- FREE gets attention- it depends on what is received for free that keeps attention, Toys- Beanie Babies, Rubiks Cube or puzzles of some sort that get/keep your attention or can be passed on to kids (looong shelf life if kids play with it!) A "Swag' bag of course to keep all the swag you collect/receive at any event,
USB Drives 1Gb or more (I've thrown away lesser sized drives) and last but not least Hand Sanitizer or Bottled water w/ company name, slogan, URL, etc... given at the right event these are immediately useful swag items!
The best schwag:
As one who is a minimalist, the often cheap and useless schwag I received at conferences usually found it's way into the trash. However, I did receive one memorable item that stands out above all the hundreds of others. The schwag received was a choice to have the company donate money to one of three causes.
Instead of spending $5 on a grip-ball with their logo, this company donated $5 for every candidate who talked with them. In return, I received a small sticker proclaiming my donation, and a link to their website where I could learn more about the charity upon who I bestowed a minimal fortune.
This schwag was great for X reasons:
1) I didn't receive a wasteful mediocre material good, but rather a feeling of goodwill.
2) Out of all the schwag I received, this is the only one I told my friends about. This in turn caused them to think about said company.
3) I visited their website to learn more about the charity I donated to, which also caused me to look at the company more too.
For all those considering handing out some schwag a the next conference/trade show/job show, I would highly recommend using his terrific tactic.
Thx for your post.
Who doesn't love a freebie now and then? Kids have always loved free stuff, regardless of it's monetary value, and I know quite a few big people who will knock you over just to get their goody bag at some of the events I attend, LOL.
As a mommy blogger I'm always giving away both worthy prizes AND Swag. Seems people love winning stuff no matter what it is, it is the actual thrill of being the lucky one.
Note: I loved your Yiddish-ized version of the word SWAG -- which as other posters ahead of me have pointed out means Stuff We All Get.
Thanks for such a fabulous post. I'm writing from the perspective of someone in the swag industry and I can tell you from first hand experience that we hear from jaded people all the time who complain about disposable trinkets and trash (fortunately, our customers don't fall into this category :)
It was really interesting to hear your perspective as an "end user" as your insights would make you a bona fide and much sought after expert in our industry.
2 thoughts - anytime you want to moonlight as a swag ambassador, let me know as your insights were brilliant (@RIGHTSLEEVE)
Secondly, I wanted to leave you with some thoughts of ours on how social media has changed swag (for the better) http://bit.ly/i9Xo0g
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Great SWAG post Jason. The <a>SocialGrow team is in the middle of planning our SWAG purchases for 2011 to increase brand awareness with our core demographic: Social Media Marketers. I like Robert's ABC recommendation as well.
I'm thinking bright orange t-shirts, you agree??
Have you ever seen the Scottevest/SeV 'Performance Polo'? I recommend you use that as a 'Best of Breed' for innovation and producing utility.
Can you post a photo of your yellow t-shirt?
I'm curious... :)
Nice! People love schwag!
Can you train some people how to do it.
I am interested. my youth can benefit a lot.
I love schwah
Last year we gave away free Mojito Kits, complete with 2 glasses and muddler (laser etched with our logo), miniature Bacardi flasks, mint sprigs, limes, soda, straws and recipe card for the Perfect Mojito
. Needless to say they were a HUGE success and people kept the glasses and muddlers.
The less fortunate ones got Mojito Pralines
All excellent advice. Really (I've been giving out 4G flash drives with our deck and reel, to targeted potential clients).
My favorite piece of Schwag is from a WIRED Magazine Halloween Party in 1998. They gave out clip boards made from a circuit board, and an aluminum plaque on the back with a pixelated WIRED logo. I've had it for 12 years and it's still a prized possession.
You should have a look at The Intent Schwag Museum. Anyone can set up an account and share their best shwag. You can see my (2 item) collection at: The Internet Schwag Museum - The Chris Grayson Collection
I have a few other pieces I'd like to add, but I've never bothered to take the time to photograph. At some point I'd also like to add a few rejection letters I received from dot coms and digital boutiques back in the mid-90s.
Great article. I always thought of schwag as something useful, but I like the idea of something that will stand out. I'll have to brainstorm some ideas for myself!
Great article. My name is Geoff Roberts, I am the inbound marketing manager at Mobilaurus. As a relatively new Boston-based startup (and HubSpot user!) this question hit home with. We've been searching for a way to give out company some SWAG, on a startup budget, in a way that is memorable. Let's face it -- giving away bumper stickers just ain't gonna cut it -- they are going in the trash. This post has been massively useful just in all the comments and ideas it has gotten on the table. Thanks as always!
Informative article. Thanks for the education.
May I add, that if you ain't true to yourself, you ain't true to nobody...
thanks man this first post Iread on your blog. I will read all your post after now