The Promotional Products Industry has been around since the late 1800’s, and yet, we still struggle with how we introduce ourselves to others and what it is that we exactly do. From SWAG to Schwag, Ad-Specialties, Promotional Products, Branded Merchandise all the way through to infamous Tchotchke, it’s a constant conversation through our industry marketing channels about what is the correct way to describe our industry. Personally, I’m a swag girl. I don’t take offense to that word. It’s current and relevant and at the very least provides a reference point to the service that we provide. There are no marketing classes about swag in school and how they truly impact your buying decisions. Very rarely, there is not even a blurb in a textbook. You don’t learn about it as a marketing media and yet it is a $20.81 BILLION-dollar industry.

Take a look around your personal belongings or desktop. Twenty bucks says that you can tell me which company or organization gave you that imprinted bag, portfolio, charger, pen, etc. You are probably also able to tell me where and when it was given to you. The service we as an industry provide enables us to put your organization into your client’s frame of reference. And ultimately, in all forms of advertising – TV, radio, or print, that is the main objective. When an individual or organization is looking to make a purchase, your main goal as a marketer is to be included in their frame of reference when they go to make a purchase. And it’s a tangible reminder. Did you know that 65% of the population are visual learners? Just saying!

Where we are failing as an industry, is taking the approach of allowing Halloween trick- or-treating to be the norm in how we are selling products to our clients. Here is your one color one location pen to hand out to everyone. Just like my child’s Halloween bag, all of that candy comes home, is dumped out, sorted, and no one remembers from which house the candy comes from. And at the end of the day, I end up throwing out all of the candy that is not relevant or tasty. That’s what happens when attending tradeshows and events in the business world. We bring home our swag, dump it on our desks, hand out the items that our team members and family are interested in, throw-out what is no longer relevant, and keep what we are the most excited about. That’s where the acronym SWAG came from (stuff we all get). And the reason I don’t take offense to using it when describing what I do is because the SWAG that InTandem is selling is not stuff we all get.

I want to change your thought process in how you approach ordering swag to ensure that you are not handing out another piece of trick-or-treat candy. It’s simple, promise! Brand with a purpose. That’s it. What is the focus that you want your clients, prospects or attendees to come away knowing about the event? What do you want the recipient to DO with your promotional product that you are handing out? Why are you handing out that item? What is the main message and purpose behind your organization spending those branding dollars? Brand with a purpose. It doesn’t take any more time than selecting the one color one location pen. But the impact is far greater. FAR greater! Your reach is further. You stand out as an organization. You are REMEMBERED!

For example, if you are recruiting your next class of potential employees, there are some key things to remember. In many instances, they are still in college. They don’t want to be seen carrying your branded giveaway to another competitor’s booth. Their only focus is to find their next stage in life. They are nervous. They are not going to remember which organizations they gave their resumes to and who all they spoke with. They are also told to not pick up tons of promotional products. My suggestion – give them something small, that enables them to slide it into a padfolio or a bag discreetly and meet with other organizations. One option would be the webcam cover where you are able to include all of your company’s profile, locations, positions that you are searching for, skillsets, etc. on the branded card that comes with the webcam cover. The cover includes your company’s logo and brand where your potential recruit will look at your brand every single day (as well as their friends and family). That’s a return on investment. Additionally, it provides them with how to get in touch with you after the event (because again, they are nervous and aren’t going to remember you and why they stopped by your booth). They remember your organization, why they were interested in stopping by and will consider you when they are making their career decisions.

If you love handing out pens, then include a tailored website link that directs them to a page specifically created for your recruits. Content that can be tailored based on the season, the needs of the organization, etc. This is your opportunity to create an online space that encourages and promotes your organization – so use it! Extend the life of the pen and direct your target audience where to go and what their next steps should be.

Another suggestion, include a romance card – with EVERYTHING you hand out. Why? Because they are already picking up or receiving your gift, use that opportunity! When InTandem Promotions sponsors an event, we are looking for more than just slapping our logo on the back of a t-shirt or a banner. The additional branding is nice but rarely do attendees say to themselves, “Those sponsors were really nice and that event was great. I think that I’ll call them up when I get back to the office”. My sponsor dollars are very valuable and I don’t have that many of them. When InTandem is able to sponsor an event, I need to make sure that all of the attendees (whether I get to know you and network with you at the event or not), know WHO InTandem is and why we are a sponsor. For the recent golf tournaments that we sponsored, we included an insert card inside the gift for use during the tournament. In sponsoring running races, we handed out jogging shoe lights where we attached a hang tag about our services and health promotions. In attending conferences for the automotive industry, we gave out relevant products with an insert card and relevant information about us as an organization. It’s branding with a purpose. Even if they receive 10 of the same item, mine will stand out beyond just my logo on the item. They will remember the company, what we do, and will consider us for their next promotional purchase and I’ve given them the next steps how to contact me, why to contact me, why I am a rock star. I am now in their frame of reference when they are considering their next promotional purchase

So, whether you want to think of us as SWAG, Promotional Products, Ad Specialties, or Tchotchkes, focus on branding with a purpose and make that your focus and deciding factor when selecting your next promotional item and save trick-or-treating for Halloween.