After getting my badge for this weekend's ShmooCon conference in Washington DC, I excitedly emptied the contents of my bag on the table. Schwag. Lots of it. There was a wooden airplane kit. A harmonica. Stickers aplenty. All branded with the names of various security vendors and organizations.
This is one of those things conference attendees live for. Who doesn't love collecting a few trinkets?
To collect schwag is to keep a journal of where you've been, much the way world travelers put stickers on their suitcases to mark the places they've visited. It's a powerful messaging tool. If your company is giving out toys with your branding on it, people tend to remember you.
It's about awareness, messaging, advertising or whatever else you want to call it. It works.
I've gained a new appreciation for that in recent months. One of my tasks at Akamai has been to get a bunch of schwag produced for upcoming conferences. After many meetings to choose the type of schwag, price out items and finalize a budget, we settled on stickers, t-shirts, RFID envelopes and the like, all emblazoned with the "Akamai: Faster-Forward" logo. For security conferences, we decided to take the branding a step further and add "Web Security" to the items.
I plan to give the stuff away starting with the upcoming RSA Conference and Security B-Sides San Francisco, where I'll also be promoting the release of the new, first-ever security section on Akamai.com.
There'll be more schwag to order in the future, so I thank those dishing it out at ShmooCon for the inspiration and fresh ideas.