The Things You Do For Swag

Editor’s Note: Swag is not only a big part of trade show culture. It’s a big part of trade show marketing. Guest blogger Betsy Burnett toured the CHA Summer 2010 show floor for Scrapbook Update, to find out who was doing what. Given the marketing budget cuts brought by the current economy, Betsy found a surprising amount. Here’s a look at who was doing what.

The crowd was gathered in the booth, waiting expectantly for the prize drawing to start, when the announcement of a company VP’s birthday starts the group singing. Then came the announcement of  “The first person to kiss him on the cheek will get a prize.” A lady in the crowd took them at their word and ran to kiss the birthday boy on the cheek much to the amusement of the crowd (and embarrassment of the recipient.) The reward for her efforts? A new Cricut cartridge.

The author kissing Provo Crafts’ VP of Sales Brad Brusa

Oh, did I mention that the lady in the crowd was me?

Part of the fun of any trade show are the freebies, giveaways and promotional items  you can collect along the way and the CHA show is no exception! Swag (as these items are nicknamed) flowed freely – in the hopes of not only luring potential customers into a company’s booth, but also providing some clever marketing as people walked the floor wearing items emblazoned with the company’s logo in hopes of winning free product! As I walked the trade show floor, it amazed me at not only the sheer volume of swag being freely given, but the cleverness of some of the marketing using these items.

Tim Holtz autographs his embossing folders for his adoring fans!

First, there were the “celebrity appearances”. Some were celebrities promoting their own product line, such as Tim Holtz spending one hour each morning of the show autographing and giving away packages of his Sizzix texture plates. Then there were celebrities like designer Suede (from Project Runway Season 5), who was challenged by Craftwell to use the Ecraft machine to create a dress – and ended up having three on display in their booth.

Suede poses with fans by his creations at the Craftwell booth

You’ve been summoned to appear….

If a company doesn’t have celebrities to draw attendees in, there are always the “wear the______ (tshirt, button, whatever) and be entered to win” type promotions. The funniest one this year was Provo Craft’s “bug eye” glasses. If you were caught wearing them on the show floor, you received an extra ticket for the drawing to win Cricut prizes. Getting in on this fun was also “Craft’n’doodle”. If they caught you wearing their button, their “craft cop” gave you a prize and a “summons” to appear at their booth later for a chance to win the “whole kit and Ca-doodle” (their entire collection.)

A bug-eyed winner at Provo Craft!

There was also swag you had to work for. The “Product Parade” program presented by Scrapbook Business magazine gave participants a “scavenger hunt card.” As you went around the show floor, you had your card initialed by the staff of the participating booths. When you were finished with your booth visit, you rated the booth on things such their product line, pricing, staff knowledge and friendliness. Turning in a completed card got you a sampling of products from the participating vendors while helping provide feedback on booth presentation for the participating vendors.

Some vendors used product samples to draw attendees in. In some cases it was simply giving people a sample. Swatch books and sample pieces were quite common. Other companies found creative ways to hand out their product. Die cut company “Dies Direct” gave people lizard shaped embossing plates (in two sizes) that they showed you how to bend to make stand up. (I admit two pairs of them wound up in my bag to give to my boys!)

The lizards have new homes 😉

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a craft convention without make-and-takes to lure people into booths. Everything from cards, to jewelry, to frames and chickens could be made on the show floor. (Yes, I said chickens.) There is nothing like free product, table space and the encouragement to create to lure crafters into a booth. Make-and-takes allowed designers and sales staff a chance to talk to customers in a relaxed environment while showing exactly what their new product could do. This did come at a price, though, to those walking the show floor. Sometimes the wait for the make-and-takes was over one hour, meaning there was less time to walk the show floor – and not everyone was “pleasant” about waiting. I know of more than one ugly argument that resulted from impatient line-cutting crafters at make-and-takes.

Making a chicken!

Then, of course, what convention would be complete without a collection of promotional items? There were pens, buttons, pins, tape measures…anything and everything that can have a company’s logo put on it. Some were out of the ordinary, such as little shaped soaps from “Robin’s Nest.” What did soap have to do with scrapbooking? “Nothing,” I was told. It was simply wonderful soap (and made by brother of the Robin’s Nest’s owner.) Other items were quite helpful. I loved the “slap bracelets” from Craftwell. Not only did these bring back fun memories of my Junior High days, but they proved useful, as well, because they had a 12 inch ruler on them. They’ll be great for “slapping” around the handle of a crop bag for when I need a ruler in a pinch.

Collecting swag is a fun part of any trade show. Not only does it give the sales staff an opening for talking to you, but it can give you a chance to try a product you might not necessarily consider otherwise.


Didn’t have a chance to get to CHA Summer 2010? Would you like to win one of three “Swag bags” collected specifically for this article? Leave a comment here saying which one you would like to win and it could possibly be your lucky day! (Due to sweepstakes regulations you might not win the bag you selected…but all of them are fun!)

Bag #1: Suede meets Tim–Tim Holtz autographed embossing folders, two pairs of scissors from Westcott, Suede’s autograph and a variety of other fun items.

Suede meets Tim Bag #1

Bag #2: Product Parade–Circle cutter from Craft-n-Doodle, various adhesive, samples of Black Magic cardstock, a die from “Dies Direct”, and more.

Product Parade Bag #2

Bag #3: Live Out Loud–Canvas kit and set of inks from Quick Quotes, photo organizer from Advantus, a variety of stickers, and stamps from Glitz plus a collection of other fun items!

LIve out Loud Bag #3

How to Enter: All you have to do to be one of the lucky winners is leave a comment on this entry before Midnight U.S. eastern time on Sunday night, August 8th. Make sure you include your email address in the line reserved for it on the comment form (for your own protection, don’t put it in the text of the comment, where it will be visible to the public – just in the line labeled “email” in the form where only Scrapbook Update staff can see it). We will need it to notify you if you are a winner. Winners will be drawn by random drawing from all eligible entries. One entry per person. Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.

Thanks to the following companies for providing promotional items for the bags:

Advantus CorpBlumenthal Lansing, Craftwell, Craft-n-Doodle, Crafty Secrets, Creative Options, Dies, Direct Ellison, Glitz Designs Jessica Sprague, LaserlineProMag, Provo Craft, Quick Quotes, Scrapbook Business, Scotch, Spellbinders, Westcott, 1,2,3 Preschool Projects.

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323 Responses to The Things You Do For Swag

  1. Melissa Horn August 6, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    Wow, that’s a lot of swag!! I’m particularly fond of #2 myself. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  2. Gayle Stauffacher August 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Bag #1 would be my favorite, BUT if I won, I’d be happy with anything. Fun seeing all these pictures. Looks like everyone had such a great time. Thanks.

  3. Dolli August 7, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Would love to win bag #1, but they all have intriguing items!

  4. Teresa August 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Have to say bag #1!!! Love Tim Holtz!

  5. June Wetterstroem August 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Bag #3 for me! Love all the stuff in all the bags! Love goodies! So much fun. Thanks for the opportunity to win some great stuff. Thank you!

  6. Rebeeca S. August 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Bag three is the bag for me…

  7. teri w August 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Love the bags. Three is my pick, but I wouldn’t complain about 1 or 2. 🙂

  8. Cindy J. August 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Well, bag #3…would be great,
    or bag #2…would be great,
    or bag #1 would be awesome!
    I’d be happy with any of them…very nice to offer the chance to be lucky!!!

  9. Michelle Nelson August 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Ooooohhhh….Aaaaahhhhhh….I would like to win bag #1 – thanks for the chance!!

  10. Mary Schmidt August 7, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

    I would love to win any of the kits. #1 with Tim Holtz’s things would be great. I would love to have a pair of the Cricut glasses. TFS!

  11. Susan Baker August 7, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    People will do almost anything to get something FREE! I <3 SWAG!

  12. Ann in PA August 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    Bag #3 looks fun. Thanks for a chance to win our own swag!

  13. Nonnie August 8, 2010 at 12:18 am #

    always love to win anything…the circle cutter in bag 2 would probably be my first choice, but any would be put to good use…thanks

  14. Laura Keller August 8, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    great article, I would love any one of the bags. Thanks so much for the chance to win.

  15. Julie Kreiner August 8, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    Ohhh, bag #1 for me, please! So lovely to choose from. Thanks for the chance.

  16. Sharon August 8, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    Ooh! I would love # 2 or # 3. Not choicy. #1 looks great but have figured that might be the most popular with tim’s autograph. hehehe
    Thanks for the chance of winning. Love your updates!!

  17. Cynthia B. August 8, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    I think I’d prefer bag #1, simply because if the Tim Holtz embossing folders…but I’d be happy to win any swag! Thanks for collecting it all to give us the chance to win!

  18. Elena August 8, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Wow – how fun! I would love to win bag #1 – I **heart** Tim Holtz… 🙂 Thanks for collecting it and for your fun report for those of us who couldn’t be there!

  19. Michelle from Texas August 8, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    Great swag! And great article! I’m a little jealous of you, Betsy, for getting to go to CHA especially to collect swag!