I went to a conference last month and got a tote bag full of crap, better known as swag. Useless promotional material — I glanced at most pieces before tossing them into the recycling — and plastic doo-dads branded with a company I don’t care about. (I do like promotional flash drives, especially the one’s with the screened-on logos. You can polish the ink off with a damp cloth and baking soda.)
Not that I don’t like a bit of promotion. I’ll wear a t-shirt for an organization I like, or better yet, put a small sticker on my laptop. That’s what I’ve seen the cool kids do. But vendors: if you want me to investigate your company, give me a business card so we can talk about it when we’re both back home, and a discount wouldn’t hurt. Please keep the squeeze toy; I’m not a dog.
I’d love to go to a conference, prepared with my own notes, drawn from a file or Web site available ahead of time. I’d print out my own name badge — like so many people do with their flight boarding pass; I bet you have or could collect spare name badge holders — and if I needed swag, well, I’ll print out a logo and paste it on my own toy.