What is Swag? Is It Worth It?


If you’ve been in business for long, you know what swag is. Did you ever wonder about the source of the term, though? Swag was actually slang for stolen property or loot used in the 1800s. The term bag was likely the source for the slang… you put all your loot in a round bag and escaped with your swag. Recording companies adopted the term in the early 2000s when they’d put together a bag of gifts and branded material along with a new album release… hoping that DJs would pay more attention to their artist.

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The strategy hasn’t changed much… outside of the fact that you don’t have to loot anyone anymore. Visit with a brand at their headquarters or at a conference, and you’re often met with some free takeaways… your swag. Of course, some swag is terrible, cheap, and only finds its way into the hotel garbage. Other swag is pretty nice.

One of my favorite swag items is a USB drive from the world-famous St. Elmo’s Restaurant in downtown Indianapolis. When I shared online about a few business and family outings that I’d spent there, their marketing team surprised me with a swag bag full of their custom spices, sauces, and this little gem. I have it sitting (dusty) on my desk and it always brings fond memories of the restaurant… and its amazing shrimp cocktail.

Does Swag Work?

Well, that’s the $24 billion question, right? The correct answer is… sometimes. The theory behind swag is multi-dimensional:

  • Brand – By branding a free gift, you can build brand awareness.
  • Memory – By providing a physical item, the prospect or customer walks away with something that reminds them of you, your brand, your product, or your service.
  • Reciprocity – Whenever you give someone a gift, even small, there’s an inherent human feeling that we’d like to give back to that person.

The folks at Sales Hacker did an A/B test where they added swag to an offer… and they were even startled at the result:

The group that received swag was three times more likely to book a meeting, and Outreach saw a 2.42x increase in opportunity value per prospect in the test group.

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Personally, I appreciate more personalized and expensive swag than cheap crap that’s going to fill a landfill. Especially if it’s somehow of value to your recipient. There are exceptions, of course. I don’t use the Shrimp Cocktail USB drive… but it’s so dang cool that I keep it on my desk.

Where Can You Design, Order, and Manage Your Swag?

It used to be quite time-consuming to design swag, quote it, and order enough of it to keep the costs down. The web flourished with dozens of sites where you could by cheap, offshore crap that you had no idea of the quality of. I tried for several years to get in good swag and it was always hot or cold.

Swag.com is a site built specifically for buying high-quality swag for your brand. They’ve curated and tested thousands of products – and limited their inventory to the top 5% of products that are trendy, popular, and leave an impression. They’ve also automated the entire swag buying experience. You can easily find what you’re looking for, upload your design, mock-up your products, and checkout in a matter of seconds.

Swag.com has products for home, office, apparel, drinkware, bags, technology, wellness, and they have a ton of well-known brands to choose from. You can even manage your Swag closet online:

Beyond converting leads into prospects, swag can be used to reward your best customers, humanize online meetings, and even engage with your remote employees.

Design Some Great Swag Now!

Disclosure: I’m an affiliate of Swag.com and I’m using the link in this article.



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