Why do women struggle to market themselves?
We all receive it, and as marketing professionals we all conceive it, but is ‘marketing swag’ really an effective spend of our marketing budget?
When you study marketing at university level (well at least where I studied marketing) it is always emphasized that you must never assume you know what the customer or client want. You have to analyze data, study consumer behavior and generally have some qualitative or quantitative evidence to ensure your strategic planning is on track.
Maybe it is reassurance for management, some kind of proof that you are not wasting your budget, or just a way that marketing can justify its existence in the modern world of business.
Whatever the case, when it comes to ‘marketing swag,’ I don’t care. I don’t have justification for my opinions and that’s just fine with me. People talk about marketing being half science and half art, well my ‘gut’ feeling has to come into that mix somewhere. And, honestly I don’t care if it doesn’t. Here are my thoughts anyway …
When I first heard the term ‘marketing swag’ I looked quickly around the room to see if any faces gave me an idea of what the expression meant. Coming from rural Australia,’swag’ is a rugged canvas sleeping mat and bedding. It is rolled up to be portable and very popular on the Bachelor and Spinster Ball circuit (but that is a story for another time).
Naturally I gained nothing from looking around the room, as I am sure most of us were pretending we knew what yet another modern marketing phrase or acronym meant. Or is that just me? I seriously can’t keep up with all the new terms in the marketing world. Sometimes I feel like they are deliberately initiated by the next generation to make some of us feel old and decrepit and step aside.
I am sure anyone reading this blog is highly intelligent and marketing savvy, but for those of you that are politely nodding and pretending you also know what the term means, this is for you! ‘Swag’ in a marketing sense, is basically promotional merchandise nicknamed ‘swag’ or ‘schwag’ depending on how pretentious your company wants to be.
The products are often branded with a logo or slogan and are given away to promote a company; usually at an event, trade shows or conferences. You know, the type that fills up your canvas tote or bag? Just to be clear, I am not speaking of Oscars ‘swag’ here people. I am talking about your regular conference ‘swag’ that you and I receive every time we enter a sponsored event.
So this brings me to my ‘gut’ feeling. I’m just going to put it out there. Who actually likes this stuff? Who grabs a branded stress ball out of their bag and eyes it off with glee? Digs deep to find the fidget spinner they have been dreaming about? Or pulls out a pen with a website and company logo printed on it and thinks that will be a great reference when they are next searching online for that company? Anyone?
I know this is bold, as I haven’t done any market research, but I think NOT! If you are me, you rat through the bag wondering what pamphlets and booklets you can throw before you exit the conference and what ‘swag’ you can give to your three year old daughter to destroy (and potentially keep quiet for five minutes) at your next coffee date with a friend.
Again, this could be controversial, but I don’t think I am alone in my thoughts. I have been given miniature branded teddy bears, stress balls and fridge magnet clips by work colleagues so I can take them home to my daughter too. If these promotional products were so helpful and intrinsic to our promotional strategies would we be fighting over who keeps what in the workplace?
This stuff is not cheap, yet companies invest heavily in these products so consumers are aware of branding, websites and up and coming events. But who actually finds this material effective? Maybe I am hard to impress (and I have got to admit, I’m a practical person), but I feel like the money spent on this exercise is futile at best.
I actually think the amount some companies spend on ‘swag’ would be better invested in a local charity, as the PR they receive would be more beneficial. But maybe that’s just me. My case study is artfully manifested from the opinion of one (me!) and I don’t dare tell my daughter she won’t be getting any more ‘goodies’ when I go to my next conference.
A self-confessed "jack of all trades" marketing professional based in the beautiful West Palm Beach, Florida. I am passionate about the growth of my industry, and love to share my thoughts on the holistic world of modern marketing!