There was a question posted at LinkedIn by Sanford Dickert essentially asking about how to effectively distribute “swag” a/k/a imprinted promotional items at an upcoming trade show.
Here is my response to his question.
Effective swag distribution typically starts with an objective not an item. But since you have the item you need to see how passing it out will help you reach your objective.
Here are some examples of objectives and related products:
1) Building brand or name recognition. This is often accomplished with a low end product like a plastic bag that you give to absolutly everyone. Then look around the show floor and see your brand being paraded in every direction.
2) Brand reminder. This is an item that might sit on someone’s desk or fridge or whatever to remind them when the urge arises that yours is the brand to choose. In this case you want to qualify the person to be sure they are a potential user then reward them with swag for answering your qualifying quiz, poll or whatever. Get their contact info eg email.
3) High quality swag is for power users who need to know that you love them and appreciate their loyalty to your brand. These are typically established or newly qualified cutomers.
If you have an item that cost’s $1 imagine that you are standing there giving everyone a $1 bill. They may be more impressed with the cash. If you have a cool novelty item does it reinforce your message or your brand? Is it viral? Is it so cool that the recipient will want to show their friends? Are their friends also potential users of your product?
***SKIP TO HERE for SHORT ANSWER*** IF every attendee can use your product and the item is cheap go crazy. If you need to qualify your users and the item is more expensive devise a plan of how you will reward potential recipients for trading contact info or other vital data for swag. Some people will take anything that is handed to them. You have every right to ask for a little something in return particularly if this is a highly desirable item.
Reno Lovison author of “Turn Your Business Card Into Business” sold swag for years and has logged thousands of hours at tradeshows.
This is the “swag” (promotional item) Sanford was giving away : It is a pad of stick notes available from knockknock.biz .
Update: At the time of this initial post I did not know the item Sanford was going to use. In this case the promotional item was actually an item that he sells so it technically falls under the category of sampling. Also a good idea!