Of all the paraphernalia you can use to get your brand message out there — shirts, mugs, USB drives — what piece of swag has actually paid off for your brand and why?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Credit Card Business Cards
I’m in the credit card processing industry and have designed our cards to look much like the black American Express card. Every single time I hand my card to someone they smile, say “That’s great, I thought you were giving me your credit card!” and bring it up whenever we see each other again. It’s memorable and immediately demonstrates to them what our business does — success all around.
2. Creative Stickers
At trade shows, our company hands out well-designed and brand-consistent stickers that subtly display our logo. The stickers are beautiful and don’t overbearingly promote our company. By the end of the show, it is not uncommon to see our stickers everywhere, even at other trade show booths.
3. Refrigerator Clips
We give away branded refrigerator clips. The reason? Part of our service gives users prepaid envelopes to collect their receipts, and the best way to keep up with these envelopes is to clip them to your fridge. The clips are a super old branding tactic, but they work tremendously well for our company.
4. Lock Boxes
Most people send potential customers T-shirts, mugs, ChapStick or other paraphernalia, but none of these items incentivizes your potential customer to speak with you. We sent key potential customers a safe with $100 inside and said if you want the money, you have to call us to get the safe’s code. They got the money and a cool safe, and we got a chance to speak with them.
I hand out $100 bills that have a Staff.com coupon code where the serial number should be. I usually carry a wad of these coupons in my lapel pocket at conferences, and everyone runs up and grabs the coupons from my jacket. It’s a great way to start a conversation about your company and get people set up with some credit.
6. Giant Pens
Surprisingly, our most popular brand swag item is our giant pen. We make sure to have a bunch on hand for every conference because everyone seems to get a huge kick out of them. In the past, people have even reached out after the conference to ask if we can send them some more.
7. Tape Measures
We make custom clothing, so we send people branded tailoring tape measures. They are useful for everything, and they make it even easier for guys to order our custom shirts online.
8. Nail Polish
Whenever possible, I recommend getting swag that is relevant to your industry and message. For us at Poshly, it means giving away beauty-related products, such as nail polish! We once gave away bottles of nail polish attached to a postcard explaining our solutions for brands. It was a great lead generator for us.
We give away frisbees with our logo on them at events. It’s great because it keeps our audience engaged, and it’s perfect branding for our outdoor party rental company.
10. Custom Watches
I received a custom watch for my company from Modify Watches, and it has already paid off several times over. The watch stands out, so people often notice and ask about it, giving me a great opportunity to show off my logo and talk about my company. We’ve seen such a positive ROI that I ordered 100 more for our customers and super fans.