The BIG BAG and a call to marketers
Wiley author Daniel Terdiman, who I met for the first time at SXSW, published a great piece revealing exactly what attendees at the conference received when they picked up their badges. A bag. A BIG BAG. A BIG BAG full of stuff.
As a SXSW newbee, I was surprised when after I got my badge I was told to go get my bag. Cool, I thought, a fun pack o’swag. Uh, no. Not in the least. A huge bag of flyers, postcards, and magazines, oh my. CDs I’ll never listen to or use. Guitar picks (ok, so I thought Little IT would like those). And more stuff than I’ve ever seen from a conference.
I was horrified and a little bit ashamed to be a marketer at that moment. Yes, we all want to promote ourselves here, but at what cost to the planet and the backs of the attendees carting this crap around. Daniel wisely points out that the convention organizers encourage people to recycle the stuff by leaving it in the convention center if they aren’t going to use it. But isn’t the path REDUCE reuse recycle? Why make the crap in the first place.
Agreed, we want to get into the minds of attendees. Agreed, the conference needs the money that will come from these sponsorship deals. But how can we do this better?
First, how about putting something useful in there? A notebook or notepad, as old school as it seems, is great, because who has anything other than their laptops to take notes on. A pen is also a good idea. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve need a pen here to not have one. I like O’Reilly’s minibook – they had a game book in there with old school pen and paper games. I saved that.
Next, how about using less paper? A postcard directing me to a web site is better than a full catalog (I’m talking about you, New Riders). Even so, there are a LOT of pieces of paper in there. Card stock does stand out more, but again, is more costly and harmful to the environment. I’m not all that crunchy, but seriously.
But there has to be a better solution. I’ve heard other marketers suggest a small slip of paper in the bag directed to a web site, but I want to think out of the
box bag. What can we do to get our message across, deliver sponsorship money to SXSW, and still not contribute to the heapload of crap that’s about to descend on the Austin TX landfills?
Marketers, the challenge is up to you.