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People apparently like getting stuff. Swag (Stuff We ALL Get). Apparently it's a good way to sell a product or service or initiative. I disagree. I think it's just that people are used to taking stuff and don't really think about it.
How many times have you gone to a conference or event and come back to the office with a bagful of STUFF that you really don't want, and probably won't use? I look through my desk and there are some silly things, like a ruler made out of corn. They promote it as 'green' because it's made out of corn, which will biodegrade some day, but really, what a dumb idea. How many government workers use rulers these days? I have way too many stickies, and pens that hardly work. Bookmarks go directly in the recycling bin. Mugs get added to the collection. Etc.
How much do you think an organization like mine spends on SWAG annually?
I'd venture to guess a solid few million.
I'm going to try an experiment. Instead of giving stuff away to promote the program that I manage (like, mugs with the logo imprinted on it), I'm going to offer to TAKE stuff from people. My marketing team, instead of giving stuff away, will offer to take stuff away. We'll donate the stuff to our Green Team, who will show off all this stuff at Earth Day, and people can take any amount of pens or stickies or other promo material that's been collected. That way, the Green Team is still giving away Stuff (as they so dearly want, for some reason) without spending any money, and some happy souls have less clutter in their workspaces.
Betcha my program will get more publicity for doing the opposite of giving away stuff.