The “Art of Swag” and How to Use It In Merchant Services

Have you got any swag in your office? I’ll bet you do, even without ever having been in your office. In my office I have so much swag that every few months I end up throwing a bunch of it in the garbage. I have desk drawers filled with swag and more swag on my […]

Have you got any swag in your office?  I’ll bet you do, even without ever having been in your office.  In my office I have so much swag that every few months I end up throwing a bunch of it in the garbage.  I have desk drawers filled with swag and more swag on my desk.  In fact I’m wearing a piece of swag as I’m writing this article.

So what is swag and how do you know if you have it?  If you own a pen, coffee mug, notepad, T-shirt, baseball cap, or any other tangible product that has a company’s name on it, then you have swag.  No one really knows where the term swag came from.  Some say it’s an acronym for some worthless advertising gimmick or stuff we all get, but in its simplest form, swag is simply a term for corporate promotional products. Companies give out these gifts in hopes that we will think of them every time we use these products. How we get these promotional products depends on the industry.

The fastest way to build up your swag collection is to visit an industry trade show. There you can be handed everything from temporary tattoos and foam stress balls to MP3 players, pens and watches. For those who own their own businesses, giving out swag can be a key component in their marketing program. Whether these gifts are given away freely to anyone for the purpose of building awareness, or selectively given out to special clients as gifts, swag can help your business build and strengthen relationships.

The key to effectively promoting your business by giving out promotional items is understanding who you’re giving the items to and how they will be used.  I’ve seen many situations where a business will spend hundreds of dollars on a promotional product that quickly ends up in the garbage or their kid’s toy box. An effective promotional item is something that has value in the eyes of the person receiving it. If the person receiving it sees no value in the item, they will deem it to be worthless and will most likely not hold onto it for very long. For you this translates into wasted advertising dollars.

1. What kind of product? So you will need to decide whether you want to give out a product that is a consumable or non-consumable. A consumable product is anything that gets used up. Notepads, candy, golf tees and dental floss are a few examples. Non-consumables can be used over and over and have a much longer lifespan. Clothing, pens, fridge magnets, key chains and coffee mugs are some of the more common non-consumables given out. Initially it might appear that giving out non-consumables is a much wiser investment. After all, the person receiving it would hold onto it longer giving you greater exposure. However most non-consumables tend to replace something that the person receiving it already has. Think about how many baseball caps you can wear. Would you stop using your favorite coffee mug just because you got a new one with a company’s name on it? Non-consumables on the other hand can almost always be used. Everybody can use a bottle of water, a notepad, even a little bag of jelly beans or Thank You mints.

2. Event specific or for general use? This brings us to the second factor in deciding what kind of swag you want to give out. Should it be event specific or for general use?
Event specific items can be either consumable or non-consumable and are generally given out in large quantities over a short period of time such as trade shows, public events, or store openings. An important thing to keep in mind is that event specific items may very quickly end up in the hands of people who will never have any interest in dealing with your company. For example, a newly opened Chinese restaurant may choose to give out chopsticks imprinted with their name to everyone who passes by their door. However the restaurant will only benefit by creating awareness among those people who actually eat Chinese food. General use products tend to be chosen when you’re not always sure when you’ll be giving them out, or to whom. You will want to choose products that are not specific to any demographic or season.  Giving out bottles of sunscreen with your name imprinted on them may not be the wisest choice if the bulk of your business is done in the winter months.

3. Who is receiving it? The third factor to take into account is who you want to give it to. Will it be a corporate gift given to your best clients? A reward given to employees for a job well done?  A token given out freely at an industry trade show?  Each of these groups has different needs and expectations.  In addition, the reason you’re giving out the gift in the first place is different.  A client that has brought or will bring you thousands of dollars in revenue may warrant a receiving a gift that cost you a hundred dollars or more. The same could be said for employees that reach or surpass certain objectives. Those attending a trade show however might be happy receiving a really nice pen that cost you two dollars apiece. It’s important to understand that one type of gift should not be used for every situation. So how do we go about finding the right promotional products for our clients? For us in the merchant services industry its Here you will find pens, check presenters, coin trays, card holders plus much more and the best part it is all FREE. See the picture below and search the Discover website. Also given our clients free thermal paper will open doors and break the ice while out prospecting.Lastly, keep in mind that the swag you give out is a reflection on you and our company. That’s not to say that you need to spend a lot on the products, but you should have an understanding of how people will view them. Giving out pens, clip boards and bendy guys may cost you nothing but giving them free thermal paper is a small investment that will go a long way in keeping your clients happy. Also how much effort would you put into making sure your clients are happy? Keeping your clients happy is one of the prime objectives of giving out swag.


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