I was on my way out to The HR Technology Conference this week listening to Laurie Ruettimann’s Let’s Fix Work podcast she did with William Tincup (Two close friends of mine that are smart and know the industry at another level).
For a long time, Laurie would go to conferences and she has this weird fascination with conference swag. She would go collect stuff from booths, go back to her room and do a video about what she liked and didn’t like. They were great vids.
So, on this pod, Laurie continues her fascination with swag and asks William what his favorite swag for a conference is and his answer was awesome. William said the best swag is “something you like”. Basically, get stuff you like, because if you have it left over, it’s yours, so get stuff you enjoy.
I love that. Probably because that’s how I buy swag. I have DisruptHR Detroit coming up next week and I’m giving away a Kate Spade bag. My wife loves Kate Spade bags, she probably has a dozen. If she likes them, I know others will, or if they don’t, I just got my wife something she’ll love!
Some of the favorite swag I’ve gotten in the past:
- JBL Flip 3 Bluetooth speaker from Halogen (now Saba). I still use it today. Fits perfectly in a golf cart drink holder and it’s waterproof, and it sounds amazing.
- Northface full over jacket from the now-defunct Elevated Careers. Love the jacket and still wear it.
- Ray-Ban sunglasses from CareerBuilder and Paycor. Great sunglasses, still wear them, my sons steal them (I know it’s great swag when my sons try to steal it!).
- Beats Headphones by Dre from three different vendors including CareerBuilder (CB always gives the best swag!), and two others that preferred not to be named because they didn’t give the same gift to all the influencers (turns out this is common). All three sons have swag Beats, and I’m a good Dad!
- Bottles of Gin – too many vendors to name! Turns out I like good Gin and once the word gets out, it becomes a perfect swag gift!
- Shinola notebook from Quicken Loans. Shinola is a native Detroit company and QL’s headquarters are in downtown Detroit, and I love the local connection!
- Herschel Backpack from CareerBuilder. Historically, the CB marketing team has killed swag! They are young, fashionable and want to bring stuff that is currently hot. It costs a bit more, but it gets remembered. (Irina – take note as the new CEO – you’ve got swag goals to live up to!)
All of this goes back to William’s point, the stuff I love as swag is stuff I would buy for myself. I wouldn’t buy myself a $1.23 pen. William also said the key to great swag is scarcity. “Oh, I want some of those Beats!” Yeah, well see, those Beats are for buyers, do you want a demo? Bam!
My recommendation with swag? Less is more. Take your $1,000 budget and don’t buy 1,000 pens. Buy 10 of something really great and give away ten great things that will make a buzz on the conference floor. Buy 5 Kate Spade bags and give one away every four hours and you must be present at the booth to win. People will show up, there will be buzz, and you’ll get more than a $1,000 worth of marketing.
I have a theory that you could also giveaway puppies and would always win any show you go to. The problem is it’s hard to travel with a barrel of puppies. It could get messy. But everyone wants a puppy!
What’s the best swag you’ve ever gotten?
(BTW – All Gin swag can be sent to me directly at 3451 Dunckel Rd, Suite 200, Lansing, MI 48911)