How I chose the "grand opening" swag for my company

  • Mar 27, 2018

by Amanda Hueneke


This is another blog about how I'm in the trenches with you guys. 'Cause now I know how you feel. So, I've started my own company, and choosing my very own promotional products, marketing materials and swag should be a piece of cake, right? Considering I do it for a living? Well, I've found myself taking longer than I should to decide- mainly because I know what's out there, and ohmygosh, how do I choose? 

A quick look at my insights in Quickbooks and I can immediately see which part of my budget is getting the heavy lifting- and in this case- it's marketing. Duh- I mean who wants to spend their budget on office supplies? Bor-ing. 

Just like you guys, I needed to figure out how much I had available, and where to spend it. So, without getting into the numbers exactly- I'll give you a quick breakdown of where that budget is going. 


LOGO SET UP.  You can do this through a graphic artist (I can refer you), through online bid sites, or even (bonus!) a friend or family member. I ended up using a friend who is a client/partner or a client/partner who is a friend (however you want to look at it). But I think that most people do not plan enough of their budget toward actual design in a start up scenario. It takes a few tweaks to get all the brains on the same wave length, and most artists charge an hourly rate.

Sometimes a client will think they know what they want, but when they see it on paper- not so much. So this requires quite a bit of back and forth time- both conversing and actual design time. I would plan anywhere from $500-750 for this service if you're using an independent graphic artist. Prices are going to depend on the complexity of your logo, if you kind of know what you want (and stay happy with that), how many tweaks you make and how much time the artist has to spend brainstorming and tweaking.  In my case, the idea I had a year ago, ended up being very different from the idea I brewed 6 months ago. And the idea from 6 months ago stuck- fortunately before I got the graphic artist moving on it. Using text in a logo is another way to save on design time. Since my logo was my handwriting, and some text with a pretty basic bubble around it- I saved time and money.

Who gets to see it? Everyone. Every single person you cross. 

BUSINESS CARDS. Once you've ironed out logos, colors, and more- the very first piece of marketing material you'll need- is a business card. Business cards can be bottom of the barrel basic, or they can be as gorgeous, eye catching and swanky as you want them to be. I can help you with this, if you can't decide what to do. In my case, I wanted people to "feel" something from my business cards- so I chose a suede velvet lamination so that my cards have a finish that will surprise the recipient. There's a lot you can do on a business card- but it does make a difference in your price. I wanted to make a punch but not spend my whole budget on that. So, I went middle of the road. This is where working with someone like me makes a difference. Ordering your cards on a website is not going to tailor the options you need and/or advise you based on your budget.

Who gets one? Everyone. Your vet, your friends, your family, your clients, your potential clients, your networking partners. Everyone. 


LABELS: The next choice I made was to order labels. It's one of those things I chalk up as bor-ing. I made it the same size as my business card- and included my address- so that it will double as an attractive address label; but I also included logo and website.

Who gets one? This product will double as a marketing and a postage tool on mailings, catalogs, packaging, deliveries and anywhere else.


MAIL STUFF: Notecards, envelopes, mailing packs- without giving away all my secrets (yet)- I carry my brand as far as I can afford on every single piece that leaves my hand. This also includes a mail-able swag piece- a post it, bookmark, seed cards, a magnet- something that fits in an envelope. 

Who gets one? Well, I try to send thank you notes to every new client, order, or one on one meeting I have with a networking partner.


"FREE FOR ALL" swag. This includes things that you feel like you could potentially throw by handfuls into an audience (okay, not really) and not feel bad about it knicking your budget. Or, you can set them up as "fillers" on a trade show table, or use them as part of a bigger gift in a gift bag or goodie bag. The bigger the budget, the better you can go on your freeforall swag, but for the sake of my budget, I consider these to be custom bulk packaged candy or mints, post-it note pads, pencils or inexpensive pens, key chains, magnets and more. I plan to use some of these items at networking events, or as a goodie bag filler, like I mentioned. 

Who gets one? Just about everyone you come in contact with at networking events, outdoor events, or trade shows gets a small piece of the freeforall. It's a goodwill gesture. 


MIDDLE OF THE ROAD THANK YOU SWAG. So this will again, vary by your budget. I like to choose a median priced item that I plan to distribute as a thank you for everyday orders, or for support and loyalty. For me this is an item in the $3-5 range. The goal here is to stay top of mind, and thank. Could be a desk item, household gadget, drinkware, nicer pens, journals, etc. But the goal here is to go for perceived value and I think most people would agree, usefulness. These items can also be conversation starters while vetting a potential client. 

Who gets one? My philosophy here is frequent customers, new referrals, frequent referral and networking partners, and perhaps a properly vetted cold call- if you're into that. In a trade show or event situation- these would be the people who are willing to stop and talk about their needs, or fill out an information card for your follow up.  It's also for those people who support your promotions, campaigns etc. 


WOW FACTOR SWAG. This type of swag is my favorite. And I wish I could give everyone wow factor swag. These items are at the top of your price point. And they're very select. For instance, an audience of 25-50 clients. Ideas are household items, desk items, apparel, and more.This item can be as nice as you like it; or an item that is still affordable, but spruced up with eye-catching packaging and presentation. In my case, I went with the later. I chose an everyday item that had an exciting twist- and I had the packaging custom designed with my branding and colors. And, also, never underestimate the power of "bulky" mail to get attention.  

Who gets one? Large, frequent or new clients; or the list of 25 target clients with whom you'd like to get a meeting.

The key here is to send it, and then do the actual follow up. 


CATALOGS OR PRESENTATION FOLDERS, USB's and BROCHURES that will showcase your product and service offerings. I mean, we have to actually develop all this swag and turn it in to something. Swag is a vehicle and/or accessory for that introduction, a creative hello- then you put the stuff in front of them. I prefer to make these look really, really good. Presentation is everything. There's a lot you can do with print these days, and USB drives can be pre-loaded with data, catalogs, or links to your website and/or case studies. 

Who gets one? Well, this answer runs deep, and I'll spare you the sales-y talk. But if you have a small budget, I would suggest doing some quick vetting of your potentials the best you can in the moment so that you are handing your best foot forward to someone who A) has a need B) is the decision maker C) has the budget and D) is, or will be soon- ready to buy or secure your services.

*Tip- do also have an inexpensive version available to use as "freeforall" presentation as well- because you never know where that will lead. 



Obviously, you could add a million things here, and you can build on these things, and you can upgrade them all; and for sure I could continue for days on this topic. But I wanted to give you an idea of where I started as a small business owner. And quite frankly, it was my favorite part, so far. Stay tuned for the swag that might be coming your way, from me