Regarding Schwag

These are exciting times for technology enthusiasts of all types. It appears like a lot of people are in the business of working on something really fun, trying to convince others of the merits of a particular project or is otherwise. Just very recently, Om Malik announced he wants to move on and start his own business. Also, Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft.

This is of course already old news and there are many other examples. These days, it seems that startups are hot. Everyone is talking about web 2.0, and, the occasional controversy aside, tech firm, especially web 2.0 tech firms are sort of the in thing to do. I am not kidding, there appears to be a certain appeal to the very idea of these firms that I have not witnessed before.

That is, where schwag comes in. That's right. Those people who are actually involved with a startup tend do not mind the occasional free shirt or cup and the same is true for other people in the same industry. It almost seems like tech firms pay special attention to creating cool merchandise, designing shirts that look nice enough that people actually want to wear them in their spare time. Free advertisement and all that. Now, if you're not believing me, consider this: This stuff is popular enough Valleyschwag is making it a business to line up good schwag and send it out to happy customers via a subscription service.

As a side note: Spend some time on Valleyschwag's website and their blog. Those guys are doing an excellent, excellent job at connecting with their customers, communicate in a fun, but professional way and: Keep the buzz going. Remember: They're basically selling various merchandise from tech companies to customers, who never know exactly what they will receive and who basically end up providing advertisement for those companies. And it works. It looks like the feedback has overall been incredibly positive.

Now, this is probably an indicator that yes: Technology, web technology is hot these days. I am also willing to believe that there are people out there who support the schwag, simply because they want to believe in the idea of a new technology boom. Maybe a better future, maybe things will go differently than last time, when web technology was hot.

For those of you who are working at startups and want to spread the love, consider using Valleyschwag to distribute some of it. I don't think this even requires a huge budget - depending on the type of schwag you're looking for. David Hornik, over at VentureBlog created his own stickers advertising his blog. Your audience will likely welcome the schwag you have to give. Not only that: They will more likely check out your site and blog about it. That is what you want. The blogsphere is big these days and it is forming opinions.

Good vs Bad?

Have you ever gotten that really bad schwag?

As in something like "a (blank) company shouldn't really be giving this out"...

There is definitely bad

There is definitely bad schwag out there. The old-school tech firm who decides to design some shirts for their employees - but then makes them denim polos in bland colors and with boring designs. As a worst case, they just end up forcing their staff to wear those for specific company events and most people refuse to wear them outside the companny. Clearly, something like this completely misses the point.

Schwag to us techies - Tchotchkes to marketeers

Funny how different professions use different lexigraphical terms for the same thing. Marketeers will generally refer to give-aways as "tchotchke" but we techies refer to the stuff we collect at tradeshows as "schwag".

Schwag and ValleySchwag were also profiled at the Diva Marketing Blog

In Theatre

We called them "McGuffins" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McGuffin