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.

2 Replies to “Anti-swag”

  1. I think the squeeze toys are great. You only need three to start juggling. Four or more and things become really exciting. If you can not juggle they are still good to toss at coworkers.

  2. Most trade show swag that I bring home goes to my co-workers and friends. I do hang on to the glossy brochures because they are useful for trip report info.

    I did keep a Silicon Graphics Linux Penguin toy that I got at a trade show a few years ago. He lives in my cubicle at work on top of my computer.

    And I asked the Dell booth rep if he had a replacement battery for my laptop. No luck but I did get a free flashlight that a co-worker was able to use.

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