Why do we love Swag? 5 ways to use swag at Tech events

I was in AWS re: Invent at Las Vegas this week and the exhibition hall was illuminated with colorful booths. Amazon Web Services (AWS) re: Invent conference is well attended by over 40,000 people

The tech company event marketing teams spend a lot of time planning the visual booth experience, staffing the booth with their employees round the clock and giving away swag (promotional merchandise with company logos).

AWS re:Invent and few other companies give out branded bags so that attendees can carry the swag from the various booths. I don’t know about other attendees, but I set out with the mission of collecting T-shirts.

My wife has been complaining that I wear old worn out T-shirts at home and pestering me to buy new ones.

The parsimonious Sandeep said this is a great opportunity to get T-shirts for free. Well that triggered my curiosity to check out the swag in various booths and now it has got me to write this blog.

Why do we love swag aka Free stuff?

Noted behavioral economist Dan Ariely has conducted many experiments and here are some of his insights

 “Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something
is FREE! We forget the downside. FREE! Gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.”

“Reciprocity is a very, very strong instinct. If somebody does something
for you… you really feel a rather surprisingly strong obligation to
do something back for them.”

Alex Birkett, growth marketer at CXL, in his blog When Free Converts (and When it Does n’t) cites numerous examples of how Amazon drives revenue with free shipping and how the sales were up in all countries except France as they charged 20 cents instead of free.

Joe Pinsker, staff writer, The Atlantic, in his article The Psychology Behind Costco’s Free Samples, talks about how samples at Costco engender sense of obligation, lead you to buy something similar or make you more likely to buy when others are around.

Similarly, Swag can be leveraged in these 5 different ways at tech events to engage prospects and customers.

1.     Original Research

Gone are the days that you see only big consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain publishing original research. Today companies are investing in original research and reaping benefits getting leads.

Clare McDermott, Head of Research, Mantis research in her Marketingprof event presentation stated

“If original research is well done, it offers highly visual shareable content, delivers backlinks, recharges the editorial calendar, gives authority and credibility, gets journalistic attention and inspires
new ideas for speaking gigs.”

You need participants to survey & publish research and there is no better place than these large tech events. But how do you get participants to spend 5 minutes to complete a survey.

Logz.io, AI-powered log analysis company, were giving out Star Wars Lego sets to the attendees, who were completing their DevOps survey. Swags related to children are extremely popular.

Imagine you are out on a conference for a week away from family and then you get back home and surprise your child with Star Wars Lego kit that they love.

2.     Arousing curiosity

In the Marketingprofs event that I recently attended, at the registration desk we were given a swag bag with promotional information of the various booths in the exhibition hall. Directive Consulting, a B2B search marketing agency, had an exclusive key that could open the safe that contained an Apple Watch to be won.

This helped in driving the attendees to go the booth to see if they were lucky winner of the Apple Watch.

3.     Give away utilitarian, reusable and high-quality swag

You want to give swag that attendees can use and keep in their desk so that they sub- consciously see your brand logo on an everyday basis.

You do not want to give swag that will be tossed in the trash. Power pack, multiple USB or good quality water bottles are good swags.

4.     Thanking customers with swag for giving reviews

In the B2C world, Amazon, Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews have become commonplace. Many B2B companies are now leveraging customer reviews as a reference asset earlier in the sales cycle. In 2018 DemandGen B2B Buyers Survey, 65% of the buyers said that customer reviews was a very important factor when evaluating vendors in the buying process.

B2B review companies such as  IT Central Station and TrustRadius provide personnel to interview  customers who visit the booth or who are in the vicinity. The customer is generally given a gift card of nominal value or swag to show appreciation for taking time to give a candid review.

5.     Differentiating to engage customers/prospects

Finally, I am proud that my company Pure Storage won the Best Swag award in the AWS re: Invent this year. Many companies give out T-shirts to attendees, but we took to a different level by giving the option to select a custom design and get it printed real time at the back of booth.

Please click to see the video below.   The attendees loved to see their T shirt printed under a minute and cherished it as they never experienced before.

Source- Best Swag Award, @AWSreInvent Twitter Feed

To sum up, Swag can be used effectively to engage a prospect or customer.

Ultimately, I managed to get only 3 T-shirts as I had to hurry to the airport to catch my return flight. My wife Rashmi is happy she will get to see me in new T-shirts.







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