Swag Advice: Five Tips from Someone Who Knows

I’ve been going to conferences for years. I have a reputation for being a discerning consumer of swag. Here are a few swag improvements that I would like to see at the upcoming HR Technology Conference.

  1. Give away an experience. I don’t recommend that you raffle off a vacation to Cancun, because nobody likes narcoterrorism; however, think about how you can make your customers’ simplest dreams come true. Then make it happen. Most working HR professionals have messy kids and pets. Coming home from a conference is nuts. Best thing I ever won at a conference? A $250 gift certificate to Merry Maids.
  2. Be visual. If attendees can’t see what you are giving away, they won’t be interested or jealous. It isn’t enough to raffle off an iPad 2 unless you have a visual campaign that shows us what we can win, how we can win it, and where to go. Think about using pictures on Twitter or videos on YouTube to create some excitement about the raffle.
  3. Appeal to narcissism. When you give something away at your booth, make sure the winner can tell everyone she knows. And make sure you tell everyone you know via your thoughtfully designed social media properties.
  4. Get out from behind the booth. If I have to approach your booth and ask you to get off your fat ass and talk to me in exchange for a tote bag, I’m not doing it.

And one more thing.

The world doesn’t need another squeeze ball. Please stop buying crap from sweatshops. You work in the Human Capital Management industry. You believe in capitalism and you know the impact of currency manipulation and low-wage jobs on the people of China. Start investing your swag budget into visual experiences that will last beyond the life of the event.

And don’t make me jump through hurdles to win an iPad 2. Those days for me, and most conference attendees, are over.

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