I admit it - I'm a swag slut (err... in a non-gender specific or sexual meaning of the phrase, anyway). For those of you who are new to all this, swag is those nifty little trinkets (usually with logos on them) that companies give out to people to attract business and to help with branding, usually at conventions or as gifts to clients.
At most conventions, you can find me at one point or another walking around the booths with a bag out, like it was Halloween for search geeks:
Me: trick or treat! I mean... so , what services does your company offer?
Them: Well, we proactively leverage our proprietary solutions across a wide range of cooperative technologies [Code for "we are not sure, but we are really excited to be here]
Me: uh huh. Is that a pen? [holds swag bag out]
Them: oh - here you go. Now as I was saying, we....
Me: Can I have your card? I'll give it to the guy in my company that might be interested in this [code for - stop talking, I'm bored now].
Them: Sure, here you go - we'll be here all day.
Now, there are two things to take away from all of this. First, my reason for visiting the booth had nothing to do with an intense interest in the vendors service, but rather in their swag.
Second, After taking the swag, I feel a little guilty and and willing to trade a little of my time to hear their pitch. Generally, the length of time is roughly equivalent to how cool the swag is.
Swag at a convention is no good unless you have a pitch ready that can capture my attention in a very short period of time (roughly the amount of time it would take me to decide I'd rather be getting a pen from the next booth than to listen to you).
Most vendors drop the ball at this point, which is a shame, since you did not go to the convention to pass out gifts, you went there to attract business, right? Get your pitch down, and make sure you have a hook and message that is clear within 5 seconds or so. Confuse me or bore me, and I'm gone. Imply that it will take 20 minutes for you to explain what you do, and I'm gone. Keep it short, clear and interesting.
Also - make the swag interesting - I already have 300 pens, thanks. It doesn't have to be expensive, just cool. If it is a pen, make sure it's one that actually works!
There is another type of swag - the swag that you get from vendors outside of conventions. One of my clients, Find Law, gives me the best swag right after I speak at one of their conventions - it's always high quality and much appreciated.
Google is famous for having interesting swag. I was just at their new stealth second office in Seattle on behalf of a new UK based client (under construction right now)and the Canadian Tourism Commission, and they had some cool swag there. Which of course I grabbed ;)
I particularly liked the candle. It's wax, but is electric (with a flickering bulb) so it looks, smells and acts like a candle, but never melts or gets used up - very cool!:
The other bit of swag I liked was the Google Talk headphones - once again, very high quality, and in this case served the purpose of telling me about a service they have that I didn't even know about:
There was also a Google Frisbee. Do you have any pics of cool swag from Google or other vendors? Feel free to leave links to them in the comments - I'd love to see them!
And that's the whole point, isn't it? I'm writing a blog post about Google swag and here is their branding and links all over the place - and I don't care - happy to do it.
Would I be writing about a pen, fridge magnet or mouse pad? I think not...
ADDED: I totally forgot: if you are unlucky enough to not be able to go to conventions as often as you'd like, you can still pick up Google Swag from the Google Store.