Thursday, June 23, 2011

Welcome to Swagville!

The 2011 SHRM Conference is upon us. Attend a few courses, get your certifications renewed, see some old friends....maybe do a little site seeing or grab a drink. But there is a 12,000 pound Elephant in the conference center: SWAGVILLE!

Also know as the Exhibitor Hall, Swagville is a place where uniformed sales people scan your badge and give you a collection of logo-ed items.

I am wondering if this elephant is a necessity. For "vendors" it is an opportunity to essentially have thousands of client meetings in one day. For "attendees" it is an opportunity to gather a bag full of branded toys for the kids.

Question: Have you ever implemented an organizational program because of a logo-ed stapler?

Maybe you have. Maybe the impression of a logo on an office aid actually has an impact. Maybe if you are a kid growing up with a logo-ed stapler in hand, you are forever involuntarily embedded with brand loyalty???

Vendors pay A LOT of money to exhibit at conferences. The quality of the various conversations usually opens opportunity for new partnerships and the investment is paid for. But, I am wondering if the swag is necessary? If you walk past a booth and grab a pen does it have any relevance to making your business better? Does a stuffed animal actually encourage you to seek out a vendor for help?

These chotsky's break pretty easily, they are extra stuff to carry on a plane, and the branded bag they come in will probably taint your fruit if you use it at the farmers market.

So, there is no business relevant conversation, you are forever surrendered to an email list referencing a product that has no significance to the job function you perform...the junk soon breaks and is trashed. Bad for the environment, costly to vendors, meaningless to attendees.

In 2012, I propose we eliminate the swag! All vendors take their previous year's swag budget and make a charitable donation. The Exhibitor Hall is now reserved for people who are serious about adding a product/service to compliment their organization. If you are not a decision maker or do not have a need for a service, you can avoid the Exhibitor Hall. This promotes meaningful and relevant conversation among people who are genuinely invested in forming partnerships. I would bet the same ROI would come to the vendors and meaningless transactions would be terminated.

Businesses grow and prosper, kids are spared the disappointment of their favorite branded toy breaking in half, the environment is spared and a charity of each vendors choosing is rewarded with money they can genuinely use!

Let's get back to partnership building with a purpose! Let's make the world a better place!

Don't Forget to Remember!


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