Tchotchkes and Swag: Which are you giving to your prospective customers?

junk in jars

I bet you can find dozens of examples of promotional giveaway items within an arms reach: Random company pens, paper pads featuring the name of the business travel hotel and a sport’s team company-sponsored bobblehead from a promotional giveaway night.  When it comes to freebies there is the good (love that swag!) and the bad (hate the tchotchkes!).

What’s the difference?

Swag is a quality freebie. Swag can be useful; swag has value. A T-shirt can be swag because it can be worn and witty. A pen that has a pullout banner? Swag, because it’s multi-purpose. A refrigerator magnet featuring your favorite professional sporting team? Swag, because it features the home team. Add the ability for that team magnet to open a beer bottle, and you’ve hit the swag mother load.

But tchotchkes? That’s the crap that breaks and that you own in excess. Most tchotchke giveaways hit the trashcan. It is the 10th pad of paper you receive at an expo. It is the chip clip handed to you in a plastic wrap that you never open. Chotskies happen – let them happen to the your competitors, not to you.

Avoid the traps

The best way to avoid ordering bad promotional items is to work with the right agency. A good agency like Appleton Creative knows your brand, can provide the wit and the hook, do the research and get the best product for your budget. Promotional items are forms of marketing. So market yourself! Here are some easy guidelines:

Be Clever
You want funny, happy people using your products – be witty.

Have permission to use a team’s logo? Do it!
People are superstitious when it comes to their team and are considerably less likely throw their team’s logo in the trash.

Pay attention to color
Seriously. Did you know that neon was huge last year for the 18-25 year old demographic? If these are your prospective clients and you’d handed out plastic neon yellow sunglasses with your name on one arm, your brand would have gotten some massive play.

Use your logo wisely
Your prospective clients can become brand ambassadors for you, but unless you are a name brand, it’s unlikely that they will willingly wear a t-shirt featuring only your logo. You need another reason to hand out that shirt. Slogan. Graphic. And you need to be selective on where you put your logo. Keep it discreet, but visible. Classy is the best rule of thumb.

Know your audience
What is the demographic? Where is the giveaway? If you are hosting a booth at a renaissance festival and want to appeal to families, don’t be fooled into thinking your company pens are going to drive traffic to your booth. But a paper king’s crown for the kiddos to wear? Victory!

Be Original
Why buy a normal pen when you can buy one with a pullout banner, multiple ink colors or the ability to write upside down?

Before buying any promotional item you need to know ask yourself the following questions: What do I want this item to achieve for my company? How will I measure the success of this item? If your plan was to get 100 people to sign up for your e-newsletter and 130 people did, well, you do the math. If your goal was 300 people, regroup and self-evaluate.

Don’t Get Trashed

You purchase promotional giveaways with the hope that they will last longer than the five steps it takes to get to the trashcan, because let’s face it, that’s just a big fat waste of your money. So take heart, put in the extra effort, make sure you’ve got the right agency and the best marketing staff on your side, and review the guidelines above before you make any financial commitment.

Together, we can turn tchotchkes into swag.

Photo by Christopher T. Palmer

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