Now that you have chosen and presumably ordered your paper swag, you have probably noticed all the other goodies that can be made to advertise your book(s). When it comes to swag, I am guilty. From beer steins to pens and everything else in between, I have given it a whirl. So which swag is worth your while and, more importantly, money? That’s a decision you need to make for yourself. Of course I have some tips to help you make that choice.
Before we start, I want you to consider that whatever items you put out for promotion, you are adding your name and brand to. Your books will be associated with the quality of your swag. I don’t recommend buying cheap items just for the sake of having something to give away. You are better off not having anything rather than something that breaks easily, falls apart or doesn’t work.
The purpose of swag is to grab attention and draw people to your books. You want to be noticed and create a buzz. The first thing you need is a logo or pictures you plan to use as the image on the items you purchase. Try to choose bright colors and eye catching designs.
Now it’s time to choose what you want to make. Take a moment to think about your last vacation or convention. As you walk around, you, like most people, probably take all the free items that are offered to you. Back in your hotel room or, if the event was local, your home, it’s time to go through all the things you mindlessly collected. What do you keep and what do you toss into a drawer and forget about, or even worse in the garbage? If the item you are thinking about as your future swag isn’t an item you would keep, why would anyone else? Whatever you decide to invest your marketing budget in, if the item doesn’t grab peoples’ attention, it isn’t doing its job. At that point, it isn’t worth the money you have spent on it.
If you are planning to try to sell swag, you should know that unless you have already been discovered, have a large fan base following and perhaps a few movies already released, chances are it isn’t going to go well, with only a few exceptions to the rule. So, what, if anything, can you use swag for? The answer is, to give away. I always tell people to try to search outside the box for the answers to any question I pose. This is no different. Consider some of the following ideas, or create your own:
Free gift with purchase of one book
Free gift with purchase of series
Free gift for stopping by your table at an event
Free gift for a fan bringing a friend who hasn’t read your books before to an event
Swag Bag donations
For friends or family to use (gifted)
Gifts for your best fans
Gifts for beta readers
Pens are probably the most popular go to swag for anyone entering the world of swag. But if everyone is giving away pens, are they an item that will gain you any publicity? Will a free pen bring people to your table allowing you a chance to discuss your book with a potential customer you may not have otherwise met? If you haven’t already figured out the answer to those questions, it is probably not. Do pens have their own worth? Perhaps, if you have sign-ups on your table or at book signings. They are also the most cost-effective item you can purchase. If you have your heart set on giving away something and a limited budget, pens are the solution. Before you order, ask yourself how many times you have used a service or visited a website listed on the side of a pen.
T-shirts seem like a fun idea at first. People can wear them and advertise your book at the same time. In reality, clothing is the most difficult swag to create. One size does not fit all. By now you have probably figured out that the number of items that you buy makes the price per item drop. When buying clothing, it’s no different, provided that all the items are the same size. That leaves you with the choice of how many t-shirts you are willing to buy in each size. I should also mention that not all clothing items are made equal. Some lower priced items may not hold up well in the wash. If you are having individual items made for yourself or as gifts, I would go with a more expensive specialized company known for long lasting products.
There are hundreds of items that you can choose to put your images and messages on. It’s is a big decision. Most companies will send you free samples to help you decide what the best way to invest your dollars is. Take your time, look at all your options before you order and don’t rush, or you could end up with boxes of items you wish you didn’t have.
Thanks for reading. Join me next week for Surviving the World of Live Events – Swag That Makes Sense.