Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion, Inc., an experiential marketing agency located in Missouri.
In a face-to-face marketing scenario, swag isn’t just a cheap party favor you give to guests at the end of the night. It’s your currency.
The role of swag shouldn’t be underestimated. When utilized correctly, it provides brands with a physical and emotional connection to their customers before, during, and after an event.
In other words, swag is a gift that keeps on giving — and that’s why it has become a $21 billion industry. One study found that 87 percent of eventgoers keep the promotional items they receive for more than a year, and 79 percent of them say they’d be likely to do business with that company again.
From fairs to trade shows to theme parks to gas stations, the power of swag can open doors for your brand anywhere. The first step to unlocking its potential is realizing that not all swag is created equal.
The Wide World of Swag
Swag can be as small as a pencil topper or as big as a VIP trip to a concert. It can be a tangible item that sits on a desk or an experience that lives inside the mind. The possibilities are truly endless.
One thing remains consistent, though: The better your swag strategy is, the more important, valued, and excited your consumers will feel about your brand.
Here’s how to harness the power of swag for your unique brand:
Match your swag to your message. It’s key to offer swag that reflects your brand’s message and values. If your company’s identity revolves around practicality and productivity, don’t hand out time-wasting junk like yo-yos and rubber balls. Instead, give your audience something they need, like a branded roll of duct tape or a Swiss army knife. Remember, this is something your customer plans to have in his or her home for years to come. Be proud of what you’re offering, and make sure it reflects the right brand image.
Solve a problem with your swag. Even if your brand isn’t all about practicality and productivity, giving your customers something they can actually use is a smart way to gain their respect and gratitude. For example, if you’re marketing at an outdoor event, consider offering branded umbrellas, bottles of water, sunblock, or folding fans. Customers are much more likely to remember brands that help them out.
Don’t fall into a swag rut. Customers will eventually forget a brand that relies on the same key chain for years on end. It’s wise to vary your swag offerings both over time and depending on the scenario. Pins, badges, and stickers might be perfect for one event, while personalized putters could be perfect for another. Make your customers feel like they’re in a candy store by offering a colorful selection of swag.
Don’t be a logo-happy swagger. Logos are an easy way to get your brand name into somebody’s home, but they’re also an easy way to get your swag into somebody’s trash can. If your swag is actually impressive or useful in its own right, a small, discreet logo will do the trick. Customers will naturally remember who gave it to them.
Avoid playing favorites with your swag. Creating multiple tiers of swag can be a dangerous strategy because it suggests that your company values certain customers over others. If one demographic is handed cheap-looking pens but knows that another market got bottles of champagne, they’re going to leave your event feeling jealous and underappreciated. Your best option is to make sure the swag you offer is of a consistent value, but if you must create multiple levels of reward, try your best to keep it under wraps.
Whether it’s a pad of paper that attendees end up writing their grocery lists on or an air freshener that dangles from their rearview mirrors, swag is a great way to provide a useful (and free!) souvenir to consumers that keeps your name at the top of their minds.
If your swag accurately represents your brand’s message and shows your audience you understand their needs and desires, you’re successfully capitalizing on this key marketing strategy.
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