Nothing But The Ruth!

Swag Made for Your Audience

By | Aug.11.16 | Advertising, Business Development, Daily Dispatch, Legal Marketing, Nothing But The Ruth!

Nothing But the Ruth

When I was a solo practitioner, I attended a swag expo. You can put your law firm’s name and logo on an impressive number of things — pens, mugs, magnets and toys are just the tip of the swag iceberg. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the options.

If you’re looking into promotional merchandise for your firm, start by thinking about the purpose of it. It’s a marketing tool to keep your firm’s name in front of your audience. Done right, their observable use of it will also help expand your brand’s visibility. When considering your options and your budget, think about your audience and what appeals to them, but also consider how, by using your swag, others will learn about you.

Think of Useful Things

Whenever I go to a conference, I like to walk the expo hall — mostly to try to win gift cards and iPads — and put eyes on the booths. The first thing I scan after reading the name on the booth is the swag on the table. As a minimalist, I will only take promotional items if it’s something I will use. If your swag is interesting, people might take it with them, but will it help you stay top-of-mind if they just throw it away when they get home? Think about what your audience will want to use and hold onto. (In case you were wondering, I like clicky ballpoint pens — not the cheap stick pens, but the ones that are comfortable to grip when you’re signing letters or editing documents for clients.)

Every year, members of my firm go to the International Trademark Association conference, and they always order new swag. Last year, it was earbuds with the firm’s logo. That went well with the idea that we do a lot of work related to technology. This year, my colleagues were looking at the techno-options for swag and asked for my input. Since this year’s conference was in Florida, I suggested lip balm and sunscreen — things that would be useful in a warmer climate. They were a hit!

It’s Okay to Be Consumable

There is nothing wrong with offering consumable swag. I always appreciate getting gum, sweets or other consumables — if they taste good. Every time I go to an event at my law school alma mater, I have no shame admitting that I smile if they have a tray of sugar cookies with the school’s name on them. It’s one of the many ways my school has endeared itself to me.

Let Your Audience Spread the Word

If you have the budget for it, get quality swag that your audience will actually carry or wear — and by doing so, spread the word about you. In the right setting, this works. I have two stories for you.

Story 1: Knoll makes high-end furniture — gorgeous pieces for home and office. When I attended a networking event at their corporate office, everyone attending was invited to take a Knoll tote bag home with them. It’s a big, high-quality bag that I use every week when I go grocery shopping. One of the cashiers loves Knoll. He hugs my tote bag. Not only has Knoll curried favor with me, I help promote them every time I shop — and it spreads joy to at least one of their fans.

Story 2: The convention hall at Content Marketing World was freezing cold last year. So cold that when I saw that the Brightcove booth had hooded sweatshirts, I made a beeline over to them and asked, “What do I have to do to get one of those?” At that moment, I didn’t care what their business was — turns out it is video production — I just wanted to be warm. I proceeded to wear the sweatshirt, prominently displaying the Brightcove logo, all day. And I still wear it — it’s a cozy, warm high-quality sweatshirt. Without even being a customer, they turned me into a walking billboard.

Tell Us About Your Swag

When executed properly, promotional merchandise is a great way to get in front of, and stay in front of, your audience. Some law firms are strategic with swag while others seem to put their logo on everything. I went to lunch with a lawyer whose firm is the master of swag, at least in the Phoenix area. He arrived with a bag of swag for me.

Does your law firm have swag? Please leave a comment below and share what you use, why you picked it and how it’s working out.

Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. She is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing her practice on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal 2012 Legal Rebel, Ruth is author of the ABA book “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” In “Nothing But the Ruth,” she writes about the lessons she’s learning while building her practice. She blogs at Follow her on Twitter @rbcarter.

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3 Responses to “Swag Made for Your Audience”

  1. Nancy Plante
    11 August 2016 at 9:34 am #

    I was at the Elite Conference and received a bright orange, plush beach towel. Loved that. When I was choosing swag for another company – we did large mugs in black with their web URL in their branded font which was a dark royal blue so it blended into the mug in a subtle way – you still could see their name but it wasn’t in your face and everyone loved the larger size.

    Would love a follow up on this as to others’ good ideas for swag. Thx

  2. Fredric Gruder
    11 August 2016 at 11:53 am #

    Not my swag but the best I have seen– Alpen Rosenthal an accounting firm hands out a 5 inch by 4 inch box of various sticky notes/sticky flags. Very useful. I keep one on every desk and in my conference room. Great swag

  3. Ruth Carter
    11 August 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    Nancy – I agree. If you’re going to do mugs, give out big mugs. Lawyers and entrepreneurs tend to be caffeine addicts. My standard size mugs turn into pen holders – if I keep them, which is rare.

    Fredric – Quality sticky notes are great. I use those every day.