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Tags: Insider, Events, Conference Tips, People

Swag shouldn't be about trinkets and trash.

That's the most important lesson that Brenda Speirs, CEO of Buzztag, learned when starting out in promotional products.


"We like to look at things with a retail eye," she says of her promotional marketing agency. "When you give something to your client, we want them to feel like it's something they would have purchased in a store if they'd had the opportunity."


When was the last time you felt that way about the tote full of future garbage you foraged from the booths at a convention?


Brenda says that if you give someone, for example, their favorite water bottle and it sits on their desk every day, shining your logo, that's the kind of win Buzztag goes after.


"We have people who send us pictures all the time of items that are five or 10 years old - and they're still using them," she says.


So what kind of items are the most impactful? 

Here are three tips from Buzztag about creating event swag people will actually use:

1. Define your crowd. Think about the kind of products they may need. 


2. Start with why. If you haven't heard it, listen to Simon Sinek’s TED talk about the power of “Why." It will give you the foundation to start from.


3. Aim to create an experience. What is the feeling you want to evoke in your customers? How can the gift you give them relate that feeling?


Meet Buzztag: What Swag Success Looks Like

We've known Brenda for almost 20 years, traveling together for conferences (and even to see Oprah, so you know we're on a level). We knew we worked super-well as a team when we recently had to pull together an event at the last minute. We scrambled in unison, coordinating everything from multiple vendors. As both teams thrive on this kind of excitement, we found it to be a lot of fun. Not to mention a wildly successful event.


What do we have in common? A high level of service. Attention to detail. Solving customer needs. "Not just being order takers in any capacity, but really engaging with the customer, figuring out what they need and rising to a level above what most people will do, making sure it's 100% right for the client," says Brenda. That's why Remix decided to partner with Buzztag to offer our clients this incredible service.


Anytime you have an agency collaborating with a top-tier swag vendor, things just flow much more seamlessly. There's a higher level of communication. You have the people who are doing the messaging working with the people who are putting the messaging on the products, and then coordinating all those aspects such as where the product has to arrive at an event during a specific time. It really tightens all those details up and doesn't leave anything to chance.


A lot of marketing departments are underfunded and understaffed, and leadership often wants marketing to do more with less. That's why it's nice to just hand over the work to a team like Remix and Buzztag. We can pool together, figure out the details, and take chaos off your plate. You can focus on more important things than refreshing your email to see if you got the delivery notice.


What our customers love about using us as a team is that they don't have to hire extra staff or stay late at the office putting together bags for a conference. Buzztag handles all that. Because this is all we do every day, we can prevent shipping errors or returns. Time, money, resources are all saved.


"It's a partnership in the sense that we both work collaboratively to the best interest of the client," said Brenda.

Want to up your swag game? Check out Buzztag's Swag School.

Katy Boos
By: Katy Boos

Katy founded Remix Communications in 2016 because she’s passionate about spearheading impactful thought leadership programs for her clients. Brainstorming compelling topics and narratives, Katy helps bring ideas to life on stage at industry events and in written content for clients such as Adobe and Facebook. Before Remix, Katy co-founded a successful Silicon Valley marketing/PR firm. Earlier she managed PR programs for Apple including Media and Entertainment, mobile products and QuickTime. She started her career on the PR agency side. Katy lives in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Forbes Agency Council, and has volunteered with TEDx as a speaker curator and coach. She's served as a member of the board of directors for both the Peninsula Humane Society and the Working Wonders Children’s Museum.


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