Swag sells. But, why? And more importantly, can it really do much to promote your brand? This year, the U.S. promotional products industry is estimated to be a $17.4 billion market. To put that figure in perspective, American wineries have annual revenues of $14 billion, breakfast cereal manufacturers have revenues of $12 billion, and movie ticket sales are about $10 billion.

Americans will spend more on Swag this year than they do on amusement parks and arcades, more than on dry cleaning, more than on coffee shops including Starbucks and Peet’s, (see Does Swag Work?)

So does Swag really help?  We need to differeniate Swag from Promotional Marketing Items.

A Promotional Marketing Items is your overall marketing strategic plan, which relate directly to your brand and help develop a specific call to action. 

There are hundreds of thousands of promotional marketing items that can be chosen from. But, 99% of them are wrong for you and will not help market your brand. That does not mean that they are bad pieces, it is just that they do not relate directly to what you do, why you provide value in the market place and what your call to action is. 

Here is small example: a pen. There are literally thousands of types of pens you can purchase from $0.69 each to thousands of dollars. The trick is to have a pen that speaks to your market. 

Two pens, but two different restaurant stories,

The first is for a restaurant that is well known across North America. They are known for their great food and understated style. The owner is extremely eco conscious and supports publicly many eco friendly causes. When we produced a pen for him, it had to be 85% or more biodegradable and tell that story.

He gives out thousands of them and with each one, tells a bit of his story through the web link attached. 

The other is for a simple pizza joint. Not a large chain, not a fancy store, but a place with a following. The pens we produced for him simply state "Pen stolen from "X" restaurant, please return for 10% discount". People return the pens in droves and he sends them back out on the street. He figures he has given away 50 discounts for every pen he owns. 

What I am trying to say, is that they are not giving out just a pen. They are giving out something of value that relates to their brand, helps tell their story and demonstrates why people should spend money with them. 

Swag is a commodity. It is something that is given away with very little return on investment because there is no marketing plan behind it. 

Promotional Marketing items on the other hand have great value when they are designed to be part of an integrated marketing plan. 

The physical piece is usually the same for swag and promotional marketing pieces, but the messaging and the overall plan to integrate it into the overall campaign is what will turn this from being a cost centre to a profit centre, from swag to swagger.

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