Thank You for Ordering…

Yesterday, your intrepid Experience Designer slash blog author received a package in the mail, dated almost a month ago. I took a picture of it to show to you (I know how you love to see photos of my mail), but was unable to include it here.*

Uh-oh, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Swag? What’s swag?

Swag, dear reader, is a funky term for “free gifts from people who hope you’ll like their company.” Promotional items, freebies, or promos, if you like. Magnets, keychains, coffee mugs, calendars, and t-shirts may have arrived in your own mailbox from time to time. Sometimes these are from companies you know, sometimes from businesses who just hope you’re their kind of sucker because they know the magazines you read.

Influential blog writers such as Darren Rowse of ProBlogger are inundated with freebies, often taking the form of “review copies”: in other words, a gift (or loan) of the complete book or product, with the hope that the blogger will review it on his or her blog. [Does anybody have the link to a post he wrote about swag, about six months ago? I couldn’t find it for the life of me.]

If receiving free stuff is a sign of a blogger’s influence, then I guess I’m doing better than my still-injured stats tell me, because lately I’ve been getting a bit of it. And though I’ve only done one swag-based review here, of a book I was already a huge fan of, I’m cool with being showered with gifts. (Two words—Madame Pommery.)

There are many unofficial swag rules, covering everything from what’s cool to get, to how likely you are to be written about should you decide to send swag, to a million old-school marketing rules about whether giving swag actually provides any return on investment. In other words, will you make money from this expensive effort?

What’s the Point?

In the case of the keychain (was that a Nancy Drew mystery?), the point is to get you to pay for the company’s real service or product—to remind you about them until you feel prodded by said keychain into plunking down real cash. The point is to sell their service or product. To make money off the promotion.

With review copies it’s different. The optimist says I am to be so moved by the gift’s brilliance, that I need to tell you, dear reader, all about it; the cynic says I should feel guilty and/or look to make future deals, and so be moved to con you into buying the item. Either way, swag in the blog community creates a bit of skepticism about the reviewer’s motivation, but remember the point for the giver is the same: to make money off the promotion.

What’s the point? To make money off the promotion.

But you know, I’m not gonna talk about that today.

Never Make Your Prospect Feel Stupid… or Senior…

Senior? I’m not there yet. Some folks still say nice things about my age. Not about me, mind you, but about my age. Close enough.

Like many of you with ultra-busy work lives and friendships and parents and siblings and maybe even kids and dogs to occupy your minds, I occasionally hear myself thinking out loud, “Did I go to the grocery store when I checked it off the list, or just get in the car and head there, then get distracted and do something else?”

Thank goodness for children. Having a kid around makes it look like I wasn’t talking to myself, and sometimes, I even get an answer.

So I know just what a senior moment will look like: like this, only with no good excuse.

With no kid around to think out loud to, I open the package from a company I don’t know the name of, on a day like many others when I am expecting a package. There I read a letter:

Thank you for ordering ————. Enclosed is your copy of the book. blah blah blah…
[person I’ve never heard of]
P.S. blah blah Tell your friends!

1. The letter is dated long enough ago that I am not sure if I did order something I’ve never heard of.

2. If I ordered it, I will be paying for it, and it looks massively uninteresting. I begin to curse myself out.

3. The wording of the letter (sorry, it’s been blah-blahed) in combo with all the other feelings I’m having, seems to suggest I’m stupid. Grr.

I’m beginning to smell a rat. When I get back to my computer, I immediately check online statements to see if I have ordered this book, check files to see if I’ve made a note about the thing, check Safari to see if I’ve ever bookmarked anything with the author or the company’s name in it. NO. But now I have lost ten minutes of my life to stress and fifteen to searching online.

Okay, so I lied about The Swag Rules. I’ve only got one swag rule.

The Swag Rule

Tell the Truth.

Everything else, you’ll figure out as you go.


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to help my injured stats by linking to it, Stumbling, or otherwise bookmarking using the “Share” button below. That’s swag I’m always glad of.

*Why was I unable to include the photo here? The darned thing was so logo-ed up that even if I blurred out their particulars, the company might get some subliminal boost in your mind from this pan of their “marketing” methods. I wouldn’t want you to give them two cents on my account. That’s the kind of influential blogger I am.