How To Get Your Boss on Board the SWAG Train

How To Get Your Boss on Board the SWAG Train



So you’ve got this awesome brand that makes people’s lives better. Like, seriously better. It’s your job to make sure your crowd not only knows about it, but loves it as much as you do. You’re a marketer and you’ve got big ideas.

But you’ve also got a boss who watches every dollar. Probably the nickels, too. How do you convince her to move promotional products from the “nice to have” column to the “must have” column of your brilliant marketing plan?

We’ve got a few ideas for that.


A quick history lesson

The first known promotional product in the United States was a commemorative  brass button handed out when George Washington was unanimously elected as the first president in 1789. That George… always the trendsetter.

It wasn’t until 1886 that someone got serious about swag. A newspaper man from Ohio approached a local shoe store owner with an idea. “Hey, what if, instead of letting my printing press gather cobwebs between newspaper editions, I use it to print your advertising message onto bags that you can give away with every shoe purchase? When people walk around town with your bag, they’re also advertising your store.” And so our love affair with free stuff began.

We’ve come a long way since then. In addition to buttons and bags, there are now over 750,000 promotional products to choose from, (Imagine what  George Washington could have done with a really great coffee tumbler!)

Numbers matter

Use a slew of statistics to convince your boss that swag is an important part of any marketing plan.  

  • 83% of people like receiving promotional products.
  • 80% of people own at least one promotional product.
  • 73% of people use a promotional product at least once a week. That’s a minimum of 52 brand impressions over the course of a year.
  • 76% of people can recall the advertiser of a promotional product they’ve received in the past year. Only 53% of people can recall the name of an advertiser they’ve seen in a magazine or newspaper in the previous week.
  • 6 out of 10 people keep their promotional product for up to two years.
  • 91% of people have at least one promotional product in their kitchen. 74% have at least one in their workplace. 55% have at least one in their bedroom.
  • 63% of people pass along the promotional products they no longer wish to keep. This results in more people interacting with your brand.
  • Adding a promotional product to a media mix increases the effectiveness of the other media by up to 44%

(statistics courtesy of

To figure out the magnitude of brand impressions for a promotional product, multiply how long a person has the product by how many people he comes in contact with while wearing or using it. Say Todd has a favorite t-shirt that he wears once a week. As he walks down the street, 50 cars drive past him. That’s 50 sets of eyeballs checking out his shirt. When he walks into a store to buy a jar of pickles, that’s 50 more sets of eyeballs. In the afternoon he takes a selfie of himself (possibly eating a pickle) and posts it to social media. That’s 398 more impressions. Todd is a walking, talking, pickle-loving billboard.

Television and magazine ads average 1.8 cents per impression. Promotional products average .6 cents per impression. People can fast forward through commercials and skip pages, but they can’t ignore your logo on a mug they use every day.

People hold onto what they love

The power of swag is that when it’s useful and meaningful, it makes its way onto nightstands and desktops and into closets, briefcases and… well… the world. The perfect piece of swag makes your brand unforgettable.

Whether used alone or as an enhancement to your other marketing endeavors (such as print ads and social media), branded merchandise works. When done thoughtfully, it allows you to reach your crowd on a personal level and give them a chance to share in your story.

Your job is to make your marketing matter. Being seen and being remembered? That’s what it’s all about, boss.

Ready to wow your crowd? We’d love to lend some creative muscle to your next promotion. Let’s chat!

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