Posted in Conference, For Writers, Giveaway, Winter Fairy, Writing

What’s your Swag?

I consider myself a connoisseur of swag.  Let’s face it, who doesn’t love free? As a reader, getting a free book makes my day and I can’t remember the last time I bought a pen.

All of this has made me a bit picky.  If you offer me a cheap ball point stick pen with a cap, I won’t pick it up. If you offer me a smooth writing gel pen, I’ll look at your logo every time I need to scribble out a shopping list or sign something for my kids’ school.  At some point, I’ll pause say “this is good” and check out your website or product.  I will develop a favorable opinion of you and your brand.

As a newbie author with only Winter Fairy to my name, I cannot afford to spend a lot of money.  I’m not a New York Time’s best seller like Cathy Maxwell, who gives out the best swag.  Between kitchen utensils and a tote bag, Cathy is on my mind everyday.  That cheap stick pen from an aspiring author or  multi-published author? It’s in the trash heap.

So how do you find good swag? Here are some questions I used to evaluate potential giveaways:

1.     Is it memorable?  To me – this is the big one.

2.    It is useful?  You want your giveaway to be used, not languish in a drawer.

3.     Is the quality acceptable?  I have yet to find a seller of promotional items unwilling to send a sample item. If you don’t like the quality, don’t buy it., even if the cost is low.

4.     Does the item fit logically with my brand?  I considered Emery boards at one point, but none of my books are set in nail salons. Likewise, a jar opener in the shape of a cowboy boot would be out of place for my midwestern books, but perfect for someone who sets their books in Texas.

5.    Is the item affordable?  Remember to add artwork and shipping costs.

6.     Where will I store this item?  500 bookmarks don’t take up much space.  A box of 500 water bottles will.

7.      Where will I distribute this item?

8.     What is my branding goal?

At this point, I don’t know whether my sticky flags have led anyone to purchase my book.  I am certain they are being used by the recipients and developing my brand.  As more books come out, I’ll expand my swag options and when I reach Cathy Maxwell’s level of success, y’all will come running for what ever I’m giving for free.

So tell me, what’s the best swag you’ve received?


where the heart finds a home

13 thoughts on “What’s your Swag?

  1. The best swag I’ve received is a wall calendar – full-sized and chock full o’ hot cover models. I actually use it! It’s on my desk, covered with Sharpie marker scribbles. I got it at a mini-conference.

  2. I haven’t gotten a lot of unusual swag items–probably my favorite one I’ve recieved is a book. I’ve won earrings that are fantastic, but I don’t really consider them swag. I’ve sent out magnets, cards, and bookmarks. With my next book I’m going to try for something more distinctiveto help make me memorable. Great post, Lola!

  3. Your sticky flags were my favorite thing in the bag I received at the CRW conference. I came up with simple “beachy” design, that fits my brand, and wood burn onto wooden craft hearts. With the various sizes, I’ve made magnets, keychains and jewely pins which people seem to like.

  4. Great list! As someone on the marketing side who not only attends but also exhibits at many events, all of this is important to consider when purchasing swag.

  5. You’re right, Lola, about lip balm. I always go for it first. There’s a letter opener I’ve had for years and a compact mirror I keep in my purse. I’ve bought from both authors. Your sticky notes are in my laptop case. Great article.

  6. Its been a long time since I got a swag bag, but at a computer conference I got a great Messenger case/laptop case filled with a mouse pad, several usb items, and some coupons/rebate offers for some pretty good stuff.
    However, I hear that that org no longer offers such a good haul. Cost squeezes have hit all the high end swag – even the Oscars this year sported a paltry $47803 – lowest in 5 years, and way below 2010’s value of 93108.

  7. The 2 I consider the best from RWA2014 are the booklet of Scott Lint Sheets from Carina Press (travel a lot) and the booklet of sticky notes and flags. Sorry can’t say for sure who they were from, I gave them my daughter last week (they were in my travel computer bag-on the desk where I was working). I believe it was the lady whose name we seen everywhere Anne something. Have I used Carina Press or read this ladies book? No. But will I remember her when I hunting something to read? Yes. Will I remember Carina Press if I’m looking for that service? Yes. Got a few tote bags, got plenty of pens, emery boards, etc. Who from? I don’t know. Will I use them? Yes eventually. My first RWA Conference.

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