Early on in my career at the Renton Printery, my boss told me about the importance of SWAG.
““What’s ‘SWAG?’” you ask? According to my boss, SWAG stands for “Stuff We All Get.”
You collect a great amount of it whenever you go to a trade show or business expo where the booths hand out free stuff to those attending.
Handing out SWAG is not only a great way to increase brand loyalty, but it is also reminds people in a fun way that your business exists.
What type of SWAG is best for your business depends on what sort of business you run. But SWAG is important to all businesses who want to establish a strong following of loyal customers.
SWAG can be anything from pens, notepads, and bumper stickers to refrigerator magnets, tote bags, and key chains.
Two features define SWAG:
For example, whenever we go to a trade show, my boss and I always make sure to bring free football schedule refrigerator magnets, free window decals, free notepads, and so forth.
But why must your business flood the market with (more) cheap junk? You’d think that people have had enough of these things already!
The truth is that people can never get enough of this stuff. The power of free is never to be underestimated. You never know who might want your company’s branded tote-bag when they see it offered at your booth.
Maybe this person wants to re-gift it her friend whose shopping bag is to getting old and worn.
Maybe someone else has a proud tote-bag collection and is eager to add more to it. I have at least two such bags, and I cherish them dearly.
The power of “free” combined with the psychology of gift-giving endears people to your business. They associate the value of what they received with the giver.
For instance, low quality SWAG leads people to think of the giver as a source of low quality goods or services, never mind what their actual product is.
By contrast, useful, cool, or fun SWAG, like my trusty green tote-bag, is a reminder that this company helped you.
To put it another way, the moment you think of a product you need or want, and you know that the person who provided your prized SWAG is looking to sell you that product, who’s the first person you’re going to call
Now that you’ve been convinced of the power of SWAG, gentle reader, you might be asking, “Well, that’s all well and good, but what kind of junk— err, I mean SWAG, should I give out?”
As stated, the Renton Printery gives out notepads, window decals, and magnets, but what about your business? It all depends on what kind of business you run and the customers you want to attract.
If you’re a bank, for instance, you want to provide SWAG that is useful, like my tote-bag, and therefore makes the recipient believe that the services of that bank are also useful.
If you’re a B2B commercial printer, like us, then you want to provide SWAG that communicates the soundness of your product and that might be used by someone who spends a lot of time jotting down notes. Hence, our notepads!
SWAG is a staple of marketing, and has helped our sales efforts here at the shop greatly. Pens, notepads, and magnets are like candy to customers. They’ll eat up your free stuff and might later feed you business.
A strong knowledge of your products and customers combined with a little creative will help you utilize this tactic to the greatest degree. If you understand these two things, you will know just what sort of SWAG to use!
We at the shop are intensely invested in our community. We frequently attend chamber functions, neighborhood events, and business expos.
Concerning the last of these, I’ve often found myself missing something important at a business expo or a chamber function. My dad, being more experienced and organized, is less likely to forget anything.
1.) Business cards
I cannot remember how many times I have gone to chamber function and forgot to bring business cards. It led to many awkward moments and fizzled opportunities.
You should never let yourself fall into that kind of situation. Business cards, even in today’s wired world, are a vital tool for networking. Everything you need to know about a prospect can be summed up on a three-inch long piece of cardstock.
I always make sure to carry some business cards in my pocket, another bunch in my wallet, and another bunch in the box full of the other stuff you bring to an expo.
You should always have some kind of brochure or pamphlet that you can give to visitors at your booth. It gives more info than a business card but is also a great way to plant the seed of interest in case someone decides they want to learn more.
Small, tri-fold brochures are generally the best. Big, 8.5x11 brochures are inconvenient to carry around, especially if your potential customer doesn’t have a complimentary tote-bag from some other booth. Better to play it safe and stay small. That alone could pay big dividends.
3.) A Banner
You need to make your table stand out from across a crowded exposition hall. The best way to do that is to have a big banner behind your booth, proudly proclaiming your company’s name, tagline, and website in big letters that are visible from a far off distance.
While the nitty-gritty of designing your banner is a different subject, here’s a pro-tip: Make sure that whatever information you put on your banner isn’t going to change any time soon, like numbers or dates. That way you can recycle your banner for future occasions.
Doubtless there are dozens more things that you could bring to a business expo (just look at the picture above!), but that's for another day. Until then, forget these things at your own peril!
Bonus Tip: Banners are also good to have in the background when you take a picture of the people manning the booth. We did exactly this for a Maple Valley trade show several years ago, before posting the above picture on our Facebook page for #ThrowbackThursday. Score!
A sort of side-hobby I have is collecting business cards. I’ve seen good cards, I’ve seen bad cards, and I’ve seen just plain ugly cards. I’m not a graphic designer, but I do know what looks good.
Whenever I receive a business card, I immediately look for five items. If your business card is missing any of them, then you’re in a heap of trouble.
(Note: I take it as given that your business card has your company’s name or logo on it. If not, back to the drawing board. If yes, good, but don’t rely in it and it alone. See Item 2.)
1.) Your Name
The main problem with this item isn’t that a lot of people don’t include it. The problem is that people often put their name in a place on their card where the eye has difficulty finding it.
I’ve seen people put their name in the middle of a bunch of text and contact information in very small print. A less common mistake is to hide it away in an odd spot like the upper-right-hand corner. Rarely do people not include it at all.
The best business cards have the name in the center, accompanied by a title. That’s a rule of thumb, but a rule nonetheless.
2.) Your Website
Always include a website. If you don’t have a website, you’ll need to get one.
I once ran across this beautifully designed company business card. It had rounded corners, with printing on the front and back. Plus, the cardstock felt perfect.
But it lacked the key to success in today’s wired world: A website.
How am I supposed to find out more if I don’t have the company’s website? Where can I find more information about the company that has this awesome business card? What does the company even do?
(By the way, your business card should give the recipient the ability to find out the answers to all of these questions.)
3.) Your Email
Phone calls depend on both people being near their phone at once. Meetings require a lot of logistical gymnastics and there are plenty of people who say that most of them are a waste of time.
Emails are different, especially with the dawn of the smartphone. You can check your email while you’re on your coffee break, or right when you wake up.
Email is the most widely used form of business communication. Include it.
4.) Your Phone Number
Remember what I said about phones calls being inferior to email? Yeah… about that.
Email is great, but even the most digitally savvy businessmen (and women!) run into the problem of email backlog. My boss gets this problem all the time with his email, and I too am slowly succumbing to the same disease.
In light of all that, phone calls are usually the best option for making initial contact. Emails are better for follow up.
The idea is that if you give people your business card with both your email and your phone number, they’ll call you on the phone, after which you will judge them worthy to correspond with by email.
As for where to include it, that brings us to…
5.) Your Business Mailing Address
A lot of people put this item in a cluster of contact info along with their website, email and phone number near the bottom of the card. That works some times, but I’ve seen it done more creatively.
Ideally, people will go to your website and get your mailing address there. However, depending on what kind of business you’re running, it can’t hurt to have a mailing address of some kind.
For example, if you work for a company that does projects involving warehouses and shipping, you might need an address for your corporate office.
Even if you’re a smaller company, you’ll definitely need an address so your potential customer can easily find you out in the wild blue yonder.
The trick to making good business cards is to make it easy for the recipient to contact you in the simplest way possible. That way you can do business with them with minimal hassle and frustration.
Finally, never, ever, ever, ever forget to work bleeds into your card. Ever.
This post was written by Kristin Thornton, our shop’s graphic designer. In this post, Kristin explains what CMYK is, and why it matters to both us and our customers. – L.S.
In elementary school we all learned the basics of mixing primary colors by finger painting using the base primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.
When you mix red and yellow, you get orange. When you mix yellow and blue, you get green.
If you’re like my six-year-old daughter, you mix them all together to make it a big brown-black mess.
In the print world, we start out with cyan, magenta, yellow and black. The four-color process uses the color space known as CMYK. (I guess they didn’t want to use “B” for “black” because people may mistake it for “blue.”)
The four colors are combined, one layer at a time in multiple runs, to create the desired colors. Just like painting, if we mix the ink in a specific order we get varied outcomes of color.
Above is a colored image separated into cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K). When combined, they make the finished flower on the right.
When dealing with photos and sending them to us for printing, it is best to have them converted to CMYK. If you need assistance transferring your photos to CMYK, we can do so if you send them to us with the details of your project needs.
One customer was pleased when they brought in a personal photo to add to their business card. I was able to transfer it to CMYK and adjust the image so that their face would look good on their business cards.
(Please note that most pictures taken with cameras and cell phones will use the format of Red, Green, Blue, or RGB.)
In a future post, I will explain a bit more about why RGB and CMYK look different.
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing advice on print-buying and business, along with notes on the state of the shop.