Senior Manager of Experience Marketing
It’s no secret that creative branded swag and thoughtfully curated kits can make a strong impression throughout the buyer’s journey and beyond. Whether you’re at a conference, mid-sales cycle with an account, or HR is giving you a branded backpack for your three year anniversary, offering and receiving swag is almost always a fun experience.
However, run-of-the-mill items and branded tchotchkes can also be wasteful from an environmental standpoint…no one wants their company swag or branded merch piling up in a landfill.
Most organizations view strong relationships and showing return on investment (ROI) as the ‘North Star’ KPIs associated with corporate swag. However, we believe in 2023 it's time to change the narrative around swag to achieving these goals AND leaving behind no excess inventory.
Memorable and sustainable swag is the new status quo.
Cheers to getting thrifty and making the best of our inventory, while keeping business goals in mind. I’ve collected these tips and ideas for making the most out of gifts and swag collecting dust.
It’s always a shame to see anything go to waste, not to mention thoughtfully designed items and merchandise. Whether they originated from a rebrand, in-person event, or seasonal campaign, here are a few high-level ways you can repurpose leftover swag to give it new life.
One of the easiest ways to repurpose swag is using it as a lever to drive leads or create brand awareness at the top of your sales funnel. Here are a few specific use cases that you can execute today with your fifty remaining company kickoff shirts.
Spice up your website’s primary lead generation form with an offering to receive an article of swag after filling out a form or booking a meeting. Simply include a Postal MagicLink (a digital item redemption experience) within the email that gets sent through your marketing automation platform.
Forget lugging duffel bags through the airport or paying hundreds of dollars to expedite your company swag to Dreamforce. Instead, use QR codes on your company business card or a paper cutout to distribute swag. By using warehousing and digital swag redemption for conferences, this method will let you continue to send the same inventory throughout the year until it’s time to restock.
Say you make it through conference season and you still have some swag sitting around in your warehouse. Let the fun continue by enabling your sales reps to offer swag to prospects in exchange for time on their calendar, to thank them for attending a meeting, or as a follow-up tactic within cold outreach.
Adding custom swag to company news announcements or product launches is a way to attract attention in a small timeframe. It adds an additional layer to your content that really gets people to engage and learn more. For example, offer to DM everyone on LinkedIn who shares your company’s post a branded kit from a previous campaign.
The use cases of sustainable swag repurposing continues throughout the sales funnel. These two use cases are tried and tested to show results while making the most of your offline investments.
After Postal rebranded from Postal.io -> Postal in October 2022, we had our Paper Plane Agency make a number of branded swag packs created for various campaigns, to spur excitement both internally and externally. However, once the buzz had simmered out, it was time to look elsewhere to ensure our investment paid off.
Postal Strategic Campaign Manager, Katie Castillo, was given a three day deadline to use these brand kits to start conversations with key customer accounts to better understand how they were using our product. The outreach timeline is visualized below.
She used the following gift email messaging:
Hey <first name>! Our internal Paper Plane agency crafted this clever custom kit to celebrate YOU, our customers who are (wait for it) just plane awesome. Thanks for being a Postal VIP!
Are you thinking about any custom branded kits this year at your company? Would love to scope out any projects on your mind for the next few months!
Snag a Postal VIP Kit to get inspired around prospecting campaigns, customer advocacy programs, or employee celebrations.
CTA: “Click the link below to accept!”
In less than a day from when the email went out, she booked two meetings with key accounts and additional four expressed interest via the Thank You note feature.
Another example from our customer, Bynder: if last year’s holiday kit was a smashing hit, turn the remaining inventory into gifts for customers or an item for sales to use for pipeline acceleration.
In this instance, Bynder ordered Thanksgiving-themed gifts from Something Splendid to express gratitude to their clients for working with them.
After the holiday season passed, they had a lot left over. The sales team overestimated how many they would be able to send out to their contacts. They couldn’t keep the items stocked for next year’s holiday because there was a box of cranberry shortbread cookies inside, which is perishable.
They quickly pivoted to allowing customer success managers to send these curated boxes (while supplies last) to show their clients how thankful they are for their business and partnership. Win, win.
As efficient and sustainable we try to be with swag, in some cases it may be worth the investment for another item. There are plenty of organizations to donate your company swag to that will ensure it finds someone who needs it. If the answer in your heart is no, it’s time to let go. Don’t let the money already spent on the item cloud your judgment when there’s time and money involved to get it ready to use again. The sunk-cost fallacy shows us that when we’ve spent money on something upfront, it’s hard to stop. Even when we know that using a different item would give us better results.
Similar to other marketing tactics, it’s important to test your offline tactics to learn what types of gifts and events are the most effective for your target audience.
When moving between vendors, every item counts, especially when loading your inventory into a truck and shipping pallets across the country, continent, or world. What’s worth taking with you?
Instead of charging back the cost of swag or branded kits to individuals or the team using it, try covering that cost by opening up the redemptions internally and let the people who want it take it themselves.
When looking through your items and SKUs, look for those loose items or kits with more volume than you’d want to use for a campaign in the future. Chances are you don’t need those 175 branded water bottles you’ve had for 2 years. As long as you’re still happy with how they portray your company’s brand, think of any upcoming events where you can give away a bunch at once.
Take Metadata’s onboarding box filled with branded swag. Every item in this box could be reused in person at events for customers and prospects.
The cost of sending something with incorrect messaging or a poor-quality gift can overshadow the sentiment of the gift itself. Receiving a gift should be fun. Here are a few ideas to keep the focus on the true message and sentiment.
Take inventory of your printed collateral: branded notecards, one-pagers, reports, custom boxes. If you’re questioning whether the item is evergreen enough to repurpose or too out of date to be effective, review elements such as logos, dates, names, messaging, and even brand colors.
Postal Pro Tip: Take what you learn and future-proof your next campaign.
If the printed collateral was made before you joined the company or started your role, it may take some extra digging to understand what the item is and interpret the details. Ask your team, look through shared drives, or even ask the vendor or person storing the item for some assistance.
Items such as out-of-date branded stickers that you no longer need may be better off in the recycling bin or shared with employees as a fun keepsake. However, a fun mini basketball hoop could be used by someone in need with a donation to an organization such as Goodwill or The Salvation Army. Chances are local schools or shelters would happily receive these items as well.
Whether you’re planning a new campaign, gearing up to use a new vendor, or simply can’t shake that feeling that your approach is getting stale—don’t abandon strategies or tactics that have worked in the past. With a fresh coat of paint, you may be pleasantly surprised.
These tactics won’t make the items bursting out of your swag closet magically disappear. In the act of tidying up, you’ll find old materials or abandoned creative briefs that can be repurposed.
Grab a copy of our offline strategy playbook to explore more ideas that will help you make the most out of your swag closet.