How to give away swag

Do you want to see a magic trick? It’s a good one, and you won’t have to pick a card or think of a number between one and two. Okay, here’s how the trick goes. You’ve got a vision in your head. It’s persistent, and annoying, and also wonderful. And we know what that vision is. Allow us to paint a picture— with words . . . and also magic.

You see people eating pizza and laughing together while they pack boxes.
And then you see those boxes traveling to distant lands (or across town— whatever.)
Then you imagine those boxes popping up in mailboxes or by front doors.
They’re picked up carefully. They’re opened thoughtfully. The contents are revealed.
The recipient smiles and maybe even gasps in elated disbelief.

In that box rests . . .

the softest t-shirt they’ve ever felt, a super cool notebook waiting to be written in, a cozy campfire mug that begs to be used, a bag of deliciously aromatic whole bean coffee, and a killer sticker pack. 

Maybe that person is a customer. Maybe they’re a new employee. Maybe they’re a fan, or a prospective client, or someone you want to say ‘thank you’ to. Whatever the case, the person you’re imagining is the happy recipient of a box full of quality branded swag that they won’t just use but also brag about. 

Did we describe your vision accurately? See? Magic.

If you’re here, then you’re interested in putting together your very own swag giveaway. And that’s something that Slingshot knows a whole lot about. We’re very familiar with how gratifying and complicated it can be. And we want you to have everything you need to be able to carry out a successful swag campaign. So here’s your how to do a swag giveaway checklist.

Step one: Plan accordingly.

• Define why you’re doing a swag campaign in the first place.

• Determine what success looks like. Will there be a CTA? How will you measure a job well done?

• Plan your timeline for the project. This will depend on a lot of factors.

• Decide whether this is an ongoing giveaway or a fixed one.

• Figure out how many people you’re sending it out to (or estimate that number if you don’t know.)

• If you can, collect recipient names and destinations.

Step two: Curate your swag.

• Designate your decision makers and final approvers.

• Land on what kind of swag you want to send out. Give stuff that people will actually want to use.

• Remember that some items are size agnostic like hats while others will require you to collect sizes.

• Decide where on the line you fall between premium swag (more money and sometimes more time) or value (cheaper and possibly quicker as well). Remember the maxim: you get what you pay for.

• Make sure you’re aware of what you’re allowed to send to different international destinations.

• Consider packing supplies. Will you need custom packaging? A label printer? Filler paper?

• Remember MOQs (minimum order quantities) when ordering. Typically, it’s 25 although for certain things like paper products, it can be higher.

• Consider what your size breakdowns should be if you’re estimating how many you’ll need without knowing specifically what sizes people will ask for. How many smalls? How many larges?

• Are you including handwritten notes? They add a personal touch, but they are an extra step.

Step three: Design your swag.

• Take time on this step. Don’t just put your logo on stuff. Your recipients care about how things look.

• What are your brand colors? Nail down the pantones so vendors know exactly what colors to use.

• Make note of the different file formats you will need to pass along to vendors.

• Hire designers to make your swag look like the kind of stuff people will want to use and wear.

Step four: Source your vendors.

• Consider things like levels of quality and pricing. Check out reviews. They’re our friends.

• Ask about the proof and approval process.

• Make sure you find out about their mistake policies in case of errors on the part of the vendor.

• Unsure about things like direct-to-garment printing or water based inks? Ask the vendor to clarify!

• Save everything— order numbers, who you talked to, price estimates, notes about timeframes, etc.

Step five: Figure out how you’ll handle receiving.

• Where will your swag be shipped to? And who will be in charge of keeping an eye out for deliveries?

• When will it all arrive?

• Keep all of the tracking information handy. Know your deadlines, and keep to them.

• Come up with a plan for receiving the product and making sure you got what you paid for.

Step six: Come up with a plan for storing your swag— especially if this giveaway is an ongoing one.

• Do you have a spare closet? Room at the office? Garage space? A warehouse?

• Will you separate all of the different pieces of swag into sizes and categories?

• Will everything be stored on shelves or in boxes?

Step seven: Gather all of your recipient information.

• Collect names.

• Collect sizes. This can be awkward to ask for and to submit, so be thoughtful about how you do this.

• Collect address. Don’t forget suite numbers!

• Validate the addresses. Google Maps is helpful for this step. If it can’t find your address, you may need to go back to the recipient and make sure that what you have is correct.

• Collect email addresses if you’re shipping internationally. This is a requirement.

Step eight: Pack and kit your swag packages.

• Plan for the unboxing experience. What do you want your recipients to see and feel? Work for that.

• Remember your packing supplies.

• If there’s a lot of packing to do, consider making an event out of it. 1. Get food. 2. Invite involved people. 3. Make sure the directives are clear. (i.e. This box needs that note and this shirt in that size.)

• Make sure that boxes of stuff don’t sound like boxes of stuff when shaken. That means they’re not snug enough and are liable to be broken on the trip.

Step nine: Ship your swag to its new home.

• Select your carrier. In the US, your main carriers are USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

• Figure out how you’re going to pay for your postage. Will this be done ahead of time online? Will you take care of this in-person at the Post Office or UPS store?

• Make sure your addresses have all been validated and are at the ready.

• Consider customs and duties if shipping internationally.

• Figure out what extra charges there are for what you’re shipping and to where. And try to get an estimate about when you can expect those surcharges to come in.

• Will you drop off the packages at the Post Office yourself? Call ahead and make sure that they know to expect your packages (if there’s a lot) and ask if they have room to receive them! You may have to find another place to drop them off if that location is full.

• Instead of dropping off the packages yourself, you can also schedule UPS or FedEx pickups.

•  Keep track of . . . well, the tracking. If you feel like it’s necessary to pass tracking numbers onto recipients, then do that. If these packages are meant to be surprises, then you can keep an eye on tracking yourself!

• Consider shipping insurance to help lend a bit more protection to this whole endeavor!

Step ten: Make a plan to handle customer service!

• What happens if you send the wrong size to someone?

• What happens if packages are delayed?

• What happens when the carrier needs more information from the customer because there wasn’t an email address provided or a piece of the address was missing?

• What happens if a package arrives damaged?

• What happens if a package is returned to you?

• What happens if you have to re-send the package?

Step eleven: Measure the success of your giveaway.

• If there were CTAs (calls to action) attached to your giveaways, come up with a plan for tracking those CTAs and collecting the data from that.

• Did people wear the swag? Post about it on social? Did they follow the QR code on that one sticker and fill out the form?

• Is there a way to capture recipients’ responses and reactions to receiving their swag gift?

Step twelve: Pat yourself on the back. You worked super hard to get here. And it was no small feat!

Get some free swag and test it out!

Happy customers with extra time and empty swag closets.