Ian Gertler and I were having a conversation about swag.

Swag or schwag–it’s the cool stuff companies compete to put into Oscar gift bags. The pens, phone chargers, paperweights, and the like that show up in the average conference tote.

Like this.

Buffer notebook and stickers

As you can see, the people at Buffer sent me a branded notebook and some stickers. I’m a Buffer fan because they have a great product and a great community. I’ve highlighted their product here (but they don’t know that). They just sent me stuff to say thanks. And, yes, there was a handwritten note.

It’s not about the free stuff.

Gertler and I were joking about the companies that owe us t-shirts. Then he said this:

I still choose [companies] based on what I need or value,
but cool logos on associated swag is a nice bonus. LOL.

That’s the point. The swag is secondary.

One of the best giveaways I have is a mini-screwdriver and level kit because it’s a great tool. I use it all the time. Another of my favorites is a big water bottle with an inside grate. I don’t do business with that company, but their logo goes everywhere with me in the summer.

One of my clients crafted key chains made of vinyl from Christo’s Gates. (I’m still waiting for mine.)

The best swag starts a conversation.

Oscar swag can pluck a company from obscurity into paparazzi pictures.

Most great swag is far more likely to show up on Pinterest or in someone’s Twitter feed. Or in my hands during a baseball game. (See, I really, really, love that water bottle.)

All of it gets people talking about your brand.

Feature photo by DirkZ (Flickr).

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