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7 ways to use marketing swag to smash your revenue goals


Ryan Campion

April 12, 2018

Marketing swag, or schwag, often sports a poor reputation.

If you’re in Marketing or Sales, you might not view it as an incredibly strategic or important part of your success.

But that mindset leaves serious money on the table.

Here are 7 ways you can use marketing swag to smash your company’s revenue goals – some of which you may not have considered.

1. Driving Leads

In order to close more business, you need to fill up the top of your funnel with more qualified leads.

There are numerous ways to do this. You can improve or explore new marketing channels. And you should always continually A/B test your website, landing pages, and ads to improve your CTR.

But have you considered using swag to amplify your lead gen efforts?

You can optimize lead conversion with swag through a merchandise Giveaway campaign.

New Relic, a digital intelligence platform that lets developers & tech ops teams measure and monitor the performance of their applications, uses this method.

By incentivizing users with a free t-shirt if they signed up for a free trial, New Relic increased their qualified leads by 30%.

Offering marketing swag at sign-up

The concept began as a simple test but was so successful it became a staple of their lead gen strategy.

One reason it worked so well – New Relic created a branded t-shirt with a clever tagline, “data nerd,” that deeply resonated with their target audience.

Devs and tech ops prospects wanted these shirts. So if they were remotely interested in New Relic’s tools, the t-shirt offer pushed them over the edge to sign up.

Of course, New Relic generated some unqualified leads who were only interested in the tees.

But the revenue pocketed by the 30% bump in qualified leads more than compensated for this, so New Relic ran this campaign for years.

New Relic automated the t-shirt giveaway and integrated it into their marketing automation platform, Marketo. This story covers their approach in more detail.

Another company, Bugsnag, utilized a swag Giveaway campaign and grew from 1K to 2K leads in one month.

If you have questions about how a giveaway strategy works, give us a shout.

Now let’s proceed down the funnel!

2. Closing key deals & ABM

In some cases, you may not want to use marketing swag at the top of your funnel.

We have seen instances where the leads generated from the effort didn’t ultimately convert.

But that’s OK. You can still leverage merchandise giveaways further down the sales journey.

If you’re in sales, you’ve likely run into a hot lead who suddenly went cold, refusing to return voicemails or emails.

You can send your stubborn prospect a piece of custom swag to keep you and your company top of mind.

Example of high-end conference swag

This also creates a perfect reason to follow up after they receive the package, which is easy timed if you have tracking on your shipments.

Furthermore, you can incentivize someone to attend a demo call with you. Upon completion of the demo, you ship out their item.

Why does this work?

Your prospects are overloaded with sales emails, data, and the stresses of their core daily jobs. According to one study, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day.

Your amazingly tailored email pitching them on a demo may actually pique their interest, but they’re simply too overwhelmed to respond.

Until you sweeten the pot, that is.

Tempted with your unique merchandise offering, they realize they can carve out 15-30 minutes to hear you out.

(By the way, we recommend not skimping on this mid- to bottom-funnel swag – something in the $10-25 range is a good starting point)

After the demo they realize your offer actually does solve a crucial problem, and the deal moves forward.

Depending on your average deal size and the rate at which your opportunities convert, this approach easily yields significant revenue & ROI.

Swag can also support an ABM (account-based marketing) approach.

It obviously doesn’t make economic sense to send swag to everyone in your CRM.

But parsing out some budget for your top 30-50 critical accounts can revive stalled leads and close new business.

Get specific with your target accounts here, making sure they fit your ideal industry, revenue potential, and use-case.

Diagram of account-based marketing (abm)

Once you’ve got that figured out, segment your accounts and try sending 50% some marketing swag incentives and the other half nothing. Then compare which group outperforms.

No matter where in the sales funnel you inject your swag, you can substantially increase your revenue.

And likely at a cost much lower than other traditional methods!

3. Boosting event ROI

We can (and will) write a whole post on event strategy and how how swag fits in, but for now, we’ll jump to the basics.

Events comprise a major revenue driver for a ton of businesses. On the downside, they’re among the more expensive marketing channels.

Chart showing event spend data

That’s why it’s imperative you maximize your return on investment here.

The biggest error you can make is to adopt a “monkey-see, monkey-do” mindset that you must bring swag to events simply because “it’s what other companies do.”

Swag can be a major driver of traffic and leads at your trade show booth, so you need to put some thought into what swag you bring.

To boost traffic, creativity goes a long way. One large item, like a giant branded Jenga, or a swag spin-the-wheel, can attract attendees and keep them at your booth longer.

Hot-trending items, particularly essential or useful merchandise, attract more visitors as well.

Top trending marketing swag

Furthermore, these items have a much longer advertising lifespan.

If someone gets a water bottle with a built-in bluetooth speaker from your booth, odds are they’ll use it time and time again.

And this can get your brand in front of that many more eyeballs.

The fidget spinners you invested $300 in? Not so much.

Bring various types of marketing swag for different targets.

You can make your trade show investments go further still if you bring different swag for the different audiences you’re after.

For example, if you’re meeting with a key customer up for renewal at the event, save some primo swag for that person.

This could be a nice Patagonia jacket, a Timbuk2 backpack, or some travel headphones.

You can also use this higher-end swag as a general giveaway to drive more traffic to your booth. You can collect business cards to enter in a raffle for a really coveted item.

You’ll just want to make sure you nurture these particular leads later.

And just as you can use high-end swag to spur activity in your sales funnel, you can offer your nicer branded merchandise to key prospects at conferences.

This ties in nicely to your ABM strategy.

You can offer your primo marketing swag to any important prospect who agrees to meet with your Sales Director or sit through a custom demo at your booth.

More engagements with more key players = more renewals, more demos, and more net new customers.

All of which equate to more revenue from your event channel.

4. Rewarding customer actions & boosting retention

It can be 5 times costlier to find a new customer than retain an existing one.

And according to, returning customers spend 67% more than new ones.

Returning customers spend 67% more call-out

But how do you drive retention and usage? These two questions regularly keep Customer Success professionals on their toes.

Once again, swag enters the picture. In fact, customer rewards comprise one of the biggest use-cases for merchandise giveaways.

You can incentivize customers to complete a task in your software platform or reward them at key milestones, with a variety of swag items.

The cool thing is you can correlate the value of the swag item with the desired action you want.

Maybe you want to encourage brand-new customers to start using your product or service within their first 30 days.

If they take your desired CTA, you send them something small, like a notebook with some pens and/or stickers.

Printfection stickers

On the other hand, If they agree to do a case study with you, you ship them something grander.

You can also encourage customers to leave you reviews.

Having a customer rave about you on Twitter and Facebook has amazing value for your business.

People trust peer reviews much more than we do sales collateral from a company, so offer some swag in exchange for a positive Google review or share on social.

This strategy works well because you can rapidly lock in revenue with an investment in swag of just a few hundred dollars.

The more actions your customers take, the greater you reward them.

You could even let them choose from multiple gifts so you ensure they find something enticing enough to execute.

You can do this in a few minutes with a Printfection Giveaway campaign.

Or you could select items and pack & ship them out yourself if you have a few hours.

But let’s say you just want to give a gift to a customer because they’re important to your business. Or, frankly, you just love working with them.

A special piece of marketing swag can go a long way in making that particular customer feel appreciated.

So much of business relies on emotional connections so tap into that and delight your loyal customers with a gift.

You can test running a swag marketing campaign to different sets of your customers and see if you notice a difference in loyalty or renewal rate.

Increasing customer retention and renewals drive up revenue, as does greater use and penetration of your product/service.

A little swag goes a long way.

5. Building ambassador & online communities

Before we talk about driving revenue from this channel and how swag helps, let’s define what a community is.

When we say community, we mean a group of loyal followers or ambassadors. These could be power-users, your most passionate customers, or technical experts on your product.

You could even have a formal program comprised of customers you gather feedback from and then reward for completing specific actions.

These include writing reviews, completing surveys, or submitting bugs.

These individuals are most willing to promote your brand on your behalf, and as such, are incredibly valuable revenue drivers.

If you’re not sure what a community could look like, the Marketing Insider Group shares some great examples in this article.

Whether you’ve already built a community or are considering it, you can enhance your efforts with swag.

For example, let’s say you provide a software product.

If you identify an expert who constantly provides helpful answers to questions posed by other in your community, you can reward that person with marketing swag.

After all, experts like these drive down your inbound support tickets, reducing costs. And cost reduction isn’t too dissimilar from increasing revenue.

You could even set up milestones, so the more that individual helps others, the better the gifts become.

Here’s a real example.

Discord, which provides an all-in-one voice and text chat app for gamers, leverages swag to build brand awareness through gaming communities.

Gamers with their own following can rep Discord by joining the company’s HypeSquad.

Discord sponsors their gaming events and ships them swag which they can distribute to their followers.

Discord HypeSquad promotion

Gamers love using Discord and are happy to rep the brand. Discord gets more brand awareness and new users, which opens doors to greater revenue.

Classic win-win.

6. Supporting customer referral campaigns

It’s cliche but true: your best sales reps are your own customers.

Why not reward and incentivize them to give you referrals?

According to HubSpot, referral leads typically have a 50-70% close rate, sometimes higher.

And you can support this critical revenue generating activity with marketing swag.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, either.

Calculate how much a new customer is worth to you over a one-year period. Let’s say it’s $5,000.

Let’s assume your profit from that single customer is $1,000 after factoring in payroll and other overhead.

This means you can reward your customer who gave you the referral with a pretty rad piece of swag, up to $1,000, and still jack up your revenue.

Sending a customer something worth 10-15% of your net sale is more than worth it if you land a deal with just one referral.

And that’s the kicker – you only incentivize the customer with the gift if their referral closes.

Your best customers are likely already referring new business to you.

Implementing a referral program with legit swag pours gas on your revenue-building fire.

Small fire

You can send an item like an Amazon Echo with a backpack, or even a tablet or laptop, or maybe some super slick noise-cancelling headphones.

Never again listen to the piercing cry of a baby on a red-eye flight? Check!

Some companies also utilize a tier system. The more referrals your customer sends your way, the better their swag gift options become.

There’s no shortage of ideas to explore here, and finding just one that works puts you closer to smashing your revenue targets.

7. Increasing word-of-mouth marketing

We touched on this when we covered rewarding customer actions, but let’s go into more detail.

If you segment your customers smartly and target the ones who really love you, you can incentivize them with swag to evangelize your brand on social.

You can also use marketing swag to run a fun social contest.

You could encourage your customers to share their use cases, how you solved their problems, and instruct them to use a singular hashtag in their post.

Then you can select a winner and reward that person with a premium piece of swag.

This user-generated content yields revenue far better than anything you could assemble internally. So put some thought behind this strategy and get to shipping that swag!

Another tactic you could try? The Swag Bomb.

MaxCDN identified their most coveted target companies and sent them a surprise bundle filled with t-shirts and high-quality vinyl stickers.

MaxCDN word-of-mouth marketing

This strategy generated immense buzz around their brand within their prospects, and got their swag directly into the hands of potential future users of their product.

So there you have it – 7 ways to smash your revenue goals with marketing swag!

We wouldn’t recommend trying all these techniques at once. But if you land just one winner, that could mean thousands of dollars in revenue.

Want to make trying these ideas easier?

If you’ve made it this far, I hope you won’t mind our shameless plug for Printfection.

Our swag management platform makes it easy to create, store, and deliver swag and supports all the strategic revenue-building use cases above.

Contact us to learn more or request a demo!