As the Fall convention and meeting season kicks off, this is the perfect time of the year to explain the enduring charms and appeal of the tchochkie — the premium item and to explain why the premium always beats the content offer.
The secret lies deep in human nature. We are wired to hunt and gather. We can’t pass up a freebie. If you conduct a survey, people will tell you that they would never go out of their way to get caps, t-shirts, polos, thumb drives, mugs, water bottles, stress balls, Frisbees, or funky pens. But given the choice between a white paper, a PowerPoint deck, a webinar, or a case study — swag is a no-brainer.
If you doubt me go to any trade show and watch highly-paid executives in expensive suits kill each other to collect t-shirts or grab another baseball cap. In most cases people are motivated to get and possess the object no matter what its intrinsic or cash value is. Something about a freebie fires synapses in our limbic brains. And we leap into a life-or-death struggle to acquire the shiny free object.
But frankly the tchochkie works better because it creates an unspoken but clear relationship obligation between the marketer and the recipient; another throwback to primitive inter-personal practice, we are inherently social and tribal creatures. The message transmitted is; “I gave you something for nothing, now you owe me a conversation.” The value exchange and its built-in obligation is wired deeply within us.
So as you cruise the exhibit halls and hospitality suites, don’t be embarrassed.
Take the freebie, meet new people and enjoy the spiels.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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