Dear Marketers: T-Shirts and Swag Inspire Outsized Loyalty (if they’re cool)

Swag Brings Soul ... and more importantly, Word of Mouth

How much of your swag dollar is wasted? You don’t know.

If you had a way to compel people to do things for your brand that you would otherwise have to pay hundreds of dollars per person to ask them to do, wouldn’t you consider it? And if the way to get to their hearts and to provide true value and create, communicate, and deliver unique content was as simple as … send them cool swag like a T-Shirt or a Hoodie?

I recently had an interaction with Kia Motors after I wrote a story of when I drove the Kia Soul, or, as I called it, the Hamstar Car. I was feeling great, especially after Kia shared my story with their readers on Twitter.

What could you do to engage?

In my work as a community manager, when I see a tweet like this, it usually signals strong engagement. I put together a package including a sticker, a hand-written note, and a t-shirt, and send it off right away. This small investment of my time usually pays great dividends (and if it doesn’t, at least someone is sharing my cool swag.

I did what most people do when they get brand love – I asked for swag. I didn’t expect the keys to a brand new ’12 Soul (though that would have been a way to really wow me to let me drive one for a week – marketers take note – all I wanted was a little recognition for writing a good story, sharing it with an audience, and then making some noise about it. For free.)

Idea: WOW the customer, then see what happens

The item in question that would have really knocked me out was a Hoodie. But really, a sticker and an autographed photo from the Hamstars would be been more than sufficient and clever.

So, here’s my observation for Kia and other marketers. If instead of thinking of a Hamstar Hoodie as an expense item, you should think of it as a hedge to bring you strong Lifetime Customer Value from all of the people who engage online. You might spend a few bucks on some swag that doesn’t go anywhere, but if you make cool stuff that helps people to feel like a rock star (or at least like a rapping hamster) they’ll want to talk about your brand, share your brand, and try your brand. And if you don’t, well, they won’t. And to my peeps at Hamstar Clothing, keep on doing what you’re doing – people love it.


2 thoughts on “Dear Marketers: T-Shirts and Swag Inspire Outsized Loyalty (if they’re cool)

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  1. I’m totally with you. Especially when people are specifically asking for swag. You never know when a customer could grow a large voice or might be influential in a way offline that you are unaware of. I think every customer matters, no matter how big or how small, and when they are asking for something as simple as a t-shirt (generally a $4-15 cost), that’s an easy way to get a customer for life & a huge brand advocate.

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