To SWAG or not to SWAG. That is the question

SWAG. Stuff We All Get. Promotional Giveaways. We all use them and they all end up on our desk at work or in our purses. I have a tiny sewing kit in my purse from a local bank. I am reminded of them every time I have to sew an emergency button on. There is a tape measure from a local hardware story in my desk drawer at work. I’m surprised how often I need to measure something…or a co-worker borrows it to measure something and we see that logo there every time. My keychain boasts a tiny, colorful VW bug that is also a flashlight. Who doesn’t love a VW bug? It reminds me to Rideshare everytime I use my keys.

California Governor, Jerry Brown, has asked state agencies to not purchase meaningless giveaways. Granted, our illustrious governor is a politician, NOT a marketing director, so he can’t help the fact that he knows squat about the value of branding. He’s just trying to save the state money and however misguided, we can’t fault him for good intentions. (Now we ALL have opinions as to effective ways to cut the state budget…but we won’t go there)

Not too long ago a government survey was taken and the question asked whether they thought SWAG, or giveaways, have any real value — or whether they’re just silly expenses. They received a myriad of answers, and here are a small sampling of them:
“From time to time I have purchased ‘swag’ pens, pencils, pins, hats, to promote the City of Milford. I do believe they have value. Part of my job is to promote the city. Little mementos with the city’s name and logo (‘A Small City with a Big Heart’) end up somewhere that may lead to a new company coming to Milford. We have site selectors come in once a year and give them a cap. They also promote a sense of pride in the community. Most cost around a dollar or less in value but they pay off in a myriad of ways.”
“I do believe promotional giveaways…can serve a purpose. If used effectively it achieves an organizational goal and good marketing and advertising — I still have (and have used) a safety whistle on my keychain that my county public safety office distributed when I was 20 or 21. It’s rubbed off by now, but at one point it had police contacts on one side and victims services contacts on the other. A double whammy — it was there when I needed it and prevented an attack. I still give them credit for providing me with a strategy for staying safe.”
“I work for a public library and we use lots of bags, bookmarks, and pencils to promote our website which you can use to access databases and individual library accounts. The key is to pick a swag item that has long-lasting value … The giver has to point out the information to the recipient and make sure the recipient is an appropriate audience. Just my two cents.”

Here are just a few helpful tips when choosing SWAG for your business or campaign:
1. Choose branded promo items. (make sure your logo or name and at least your website is imprinted on it) Blank SWAG is a waste of money.
2. Choose Promotional Items that are strategic, appeals to your target audience and stays consistent with your business brand.
3. Use “smart” SWAG. Something that the recipient will be more likely to hold on to and use.
4. Be clever. People appreciate and will hold on to clever over mundane.
5. Consider the “perceived value” of what you are buying and buy accordingly.

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