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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Swag: Cereal Box Toys for Colleagues, or, The Offering of Meaningful Engaging, and Ultimately Useful Branded Materials

Rich Patterson, of Vancouver-based Patterson Brands (www.pattersonbrands.com), kindly asked me to submit a post to his blog (http://schwagman.wordpress.com/). I include my contribution here:

When I was little, I would excavate the Shreddies box seeking hidden treasure. The rubber band-powered racing car was my favourite as it required assembly and actually worked well. Though inexpensive and small, it had the desired effect: to the intended audience, it was meaningful, engaging and useful. All these years later and I still remember the brand and the toy. Well done, Nabisco.

When sourcing branded promotional materials (aka swag), marketers with tight budgets might consider the cereal box toy. Industry events can attract hundreds, if not thousands, of potential visitors. This is a terrific opportunity to showcase your marketing and fiscal creativity. When faced with the prospect of offering one small gift, do your exhibit guests, delegates, and your company a favour: make it count.

Begin by thinking like a delegate and a marketer. After all, you have likely received plenty of swag. What promotional items do you still use? What was immediately tossed in the trash? Why? What are your objectives? Will your branded item be seen as thoughtfully considered or an unimaginative attempt to promote your company? If you hand out pens at a trade show will they stand out? Imagine, if you will, presenting guests with a branded box of crayons. Now that’s memorable (your children will thank you later). Or consider a high-quality, steel bodied pen. I recently received one at a launch event and was quite comfortable pulling it out in a meeting when my favourite ‘writing instrument’ dried up unexpectedly. Can a pen be considered meaningful and engaging? That’s debatable, although I appreciate the craftsmanship and remember the launch as being tremendously successful. Is the pen useful? Absolutely – long term, too.

If your budget allows, you may wish to offer two items. Ask your guests which they’d prefer (or need – think sustainability). While this may actually cut down on waste, it most certainly adds value (thoughtfulness) and may even facilitate a longer conversation with your guest (objective).

Promotional items, then, need not be large or even expensive to ensure they remain on active duty. If branded tastefully, travel mugs, ipod accessories, steel water bottles etc. will be welcomed and used. Speaking of tasteful branding, ensure a website address is included with your logo. Make it easy for colleagues and prospective clients to locate your company. This will ensure that when the time comes, it will be your brand and ‘cereal box treasure’ that are remembered fondly.

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