The definitive guide to SWAG hunting
So you gearing up to attend a conference, but you are unaware of the concept of SWAG. (Stuff We all Get). This is arguably the best part, outside of the learning incurred during attending conferences.
But, for the most part, you are not equipped with the necessary skills to uncover the quality and quantity of SWAG that you deserve.
Enter: The SWAG Whisperer
So there is an art to “the collection of the SWAG”. The SWAG is not your friend. It’s not going to sit there and scream “pick me”. You gotta want it bad.
The Rules of ENgagement Are:
- There are different types of SWAG — Clothing, toys, stickers, etc.
- Not all SWAG is created equal — e.g. T-shirts have different weightings, more about this further down in the post
- SWAG comes in different levels — Some are more desirable than others
- Do not be afraid of the SWAG givers — Worst case, they spam you later with mail. Sometimes, (Rarely) they force you to sit through a demo of their solution
- Pack extra luggage — This year, i took SWAG with me in a separate suitcase and returned home with 17 t-shirts, 4 caps, a million stickers and a ton of other stuff.
Simple really. Now let me break it down for you even further. I’ll put the SWAG into categories:
By far, the most popular SWAG. There’s a few things here though. Design, Quality, Cut and Colour.
Design: If it ain’t something that you would wear outside of IT, then chances are, you only gonna sleep in it or use it for gym. So, for those readers that are SWAG producers, go with a cool image, something that personifies your brand, makes people inquire about it. Have a look at the sort after Microsoft Mechanics shirts. They have the cogs logo on the front. AND are super rare.
Quality: 150g and up. Nobody wants a t-shirt that’s worn once, washed and then becomes something from a Picasso drawing. i.e. it loses shape.
Cut: This is always tricky. Well not for the wearer. When selecting a t-shirt, the common denominator is neckline, which is usually round. I don’t think I have ever received a V neck tee. Having said that, the often overlooked section of a t-shirt is the sleeve. Let’s face it, those t-shirts that hang to your elbow are straight out of the late 80’s. Its rare to get a golf shirt as an attendee so i’m not going to discuss that here.
Colour: There are many trains of thought around this. Dark colours work better for me, although black is so overdone. Grey’s and Blue’s are neutral so adding more than just one colour works. If you have a busy design, I would even go with a light green. On the other side of the spectrum, day-glow neons are a definite no-no. Yes, you know who you are. It ain’t the 80’s. Nobody is going to wear it outside of maybe the conference, or a roller derby. Although, it has to be a spectacular tee if its going to work.
This trend has ramped up over the years. I personally love stickers. But they too are not created equal. Don’t be afraid of covering your notebook or whatever device with stickers. There is no structured format to how you apply the stickers. I personally try to move away from straight lines. Eventually you’ll end up with a smorgasbord of stickers all over.
A few differences about stickers:
- Transparency — The best stickers bar-none. They can cover other stickers while not covering them up
- Curvature — Definitely another plus here. Add’s character to the sticker
- Text vs Logo — Some companies have great logo’s and produce just this. The only problem with this is the sticker type. If its just the outline of the logo, so it doesn't have a background that makes up the base of the sticker, it works better than a square. I recently got some Microsoft Mechanics stickers that are perfect. Great work Microsoft!!
- Paper vs Plastic — Plastic stickers for me are of higher quality than cheap paper based stickers. Also, when removing stickers, the paper ones generally have more glue so it takes longer to get it off. (Top Tip: Use dish washing liquid in some warm water to remove stubborn stickers)
Gadgets and other items
Many companies do this. With a plethora of items, torches, speakers, headphones, karabina’s, tool kits, water bottles, etc. There is no limit to the type. Event management companies have thousands of different branded items and that’s pretty much how it gets chosen.
For the most part, they are all pretty cool, except for memory sticks.
Public Service Announcement
Notebooks CANNOT manage square or any shaped USB sticks other than a flat one. Yes, a Rubics cube memory stick looks great but is soo not functional!
This is new to the SWAG culture. Companies have started producing limited run items that have become exclusive, must have kit. What everyone seems to be doing is really awesome caps. We’ve seen this come from Jeremy Thake @ Hyperfish, Sébastien Levert @ Valo and even the REgarding 365 team had them at this years Microsoft Ignite.
Other trending SWAG has to be socks, which was spearheaded by none other than Benjamin Niaulin @Sharegate and sunglasses from Valo!
TO wrap up. Do not fear the SWAG giver. Engage with them, talk to them, smile at them, do whatever it takes to procure the SWAG.
Top closing tip. Make a round at the beginning of the conference to identify what SWAG you want, even engage and get them. Go back the last day and fetch all the leftovers. Vendors will hand you multiple pieces of SWAG!!
Be cool my ninjas.