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Why You Should Give Away Your Product (And Why Swag Is Dead)


Here is the thing about free stuff (“swag”) brands love to give away the minute they hit a certain threshold: It usually has zero impact on your bottom line yet it adds more waste into our landfills. Instead, gift your products (or services) to people when they least expect it when you (or any employee, at their own choosing) feel it is appropriate. It will instead leave a big impact, just not on the environment.
I write this post on my way to conduct one of my infamous brand workshops; this one for a client in Amsterdam. Killing time at a restaurant at the airport terminal, I chatted it up with my waiter. When it was time to pay the check he handed me a 1-liter bottle of Evian, which I know they are usually selling at outrageous airport prices, while simply saying “for your flight.”
A few minutes later I was in line to board my first plane, to Chicago. I stood next to Jet Tila, a chef you may know from shows like Chopped or Iron Chef America. I did not recognize him at first since I was starring down at my phone like most everyone else. But a young girl sure did and she approached him – all smiles – inquiring if it really was him. He was very friendly and asked if she wanted a picture taken while her parents told him how much she enjoys his cooking and that she has been taking classes for years now.
Then he did what prompted this post: He told her that if her parents direct messaged him on social media with their mailing address he would send her a signed copy of his latest cookbook.
The bottle of Evian for the frequent traveler. The signed book for the next generation of fans. This is what every brand should do all the time: Give your product to the soon-to-be super fans, or to the ones you somehow disappointed. Not selfishly to influencers. Not because they ask for it. Give it unexpectedly to the ones that show you that they care about your brand, may that be in person, via a comment or a self-initiated post.
Instead of giving away your product to ten, send a box of your products to one.
Instead of giving away useless swag to one hundred, gift ten of your products to the ones who would appreciate and use it.
Yes, they will talk about it, but more importantly, they will never forget your brand.
Your brand growth will thank you; and so will the environment.


  • Saïd

    I’ve had strong feelings about companies buying stupid waste and just slap their logo on it hoping for the best. This is a great frame to consider quality of quantity (of influencers).

  • Atanas Dzhingarov

    I intuitively do this. I’m just naturally a helpful person and I’m business to help my clients, not simply for a pay day. As a result, I often go above and beyond (giving away free services, if you will) when they least expect it.

    I don’t do it because I expect anything in return, but oftentimes, it comes back. Sometimes it comes back in extra pay (just to say “thank you”); sometimes it’s an awesome testimonial for my website; or simply a referral.

    Very insightful post. Thanks for sharing, Fabian.

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