The dream is simple: get your product in the hands of celebrities or “influencers,” and they create a ripple effect that skyrockets you to fame and fortune.
What if Kim Kardashian tweets about you?
What if Hugh Jackman wears your custom shirts on the red carpet?
What if a top blogger includes you in a top-10 list?
What if you got a mention on The Office or another primetime show?
Sadly, sampling to “stars” seldom works out.
People who move the needle get a TON of stuff sent to them. The pic below is just part of my mail, and I’m not even a real celeb! Blurb and blog promotion requests received in one day, with the exception of one book:
So…how do YOU break through the noise?
This guest post will teach you. It’s written by Marc Ecko, founder of Marc Ecko Enterprises, a global fashion and lifestyle company. I wanted Marc to write this post because — in my opinion — he’s an expert at selling yourself without selling out. As CNBC put it, “Marc is living proof that you can be a marketing and business whiz and still be a true artist.”
Once a graffiti artist with no connections, Marc left the safety net of pharmacy school to start his own clothing company. Using hustle and creativity, he turned a $5,000 bag of cash into a global corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
He created a lot of this success by repeatedly getting his products to impossible-to-reach icons (e.g. Spike Lee, Chuck D) and planning elaborate PR stunts (e.g. Air Force One graffiti hoax; buying Barry Bonds’ homerun record baseball and letting online votes determine its fate).
This post will explain his 10 rules — the do’s and don’ts — of his unique “swag bomb” approach to getting influencer attention. I agree with all of them.
Enjoy, replicate, and prosper…
ALSO: Marc will be answering questions in the comments, so leave your thoughts after the end of this post!
Enter Marc Ecko
Before Ecko was Ecko, it was just me, a suburban kid in New Jersey airbrushing stuff in my parents garage. In terms of hip hop, I was the quintessential outsider. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have any connections. All I knew was that I was passionate about my art, and that I wanted to make a business out of it.
In other words, I was in the exact position that basically every entrepreneur, author, and creative person in the world starts in. I had to make a name for myself–I had to crack in. I could only think of one way: giving stuff away for free to people who would like it. Taking action.
Over the years I perfected this strategy, using it to launch and build countless brands from Ecko Unltd to G Unit to Cut & Sew, Complex and Zoo York. Ecko, alone, has done billions of dollars in revenue since those days in the garage twenty years ago. Our collaboration with George Lucas and the iconic Star Wars brand was a direct result of this strategy. I’ll go to my grave proud of the fact that George Lucas actually said–and this is a quote–“No one has made STAR WARS cooler than ECKO.”
A lot of people think that mailing samples is just that–throwing some crap in the mail and hope it works. Well, that couldn’t be more wrong. A Swag Bomb, properly executed, is a work of art. When done right can generate massive amounts of PR, connections and access.
When done improperly, it ends up here…in the pile of orphan books at the New York Times. Or worse, it ends up in the trash can or lays their unopened. You’ve worked too hard to let that happen, to throw that work away because you made some simple mistakes.
So let’s go back to that garage. I’ll show you how swag bombs were instrumental in building the Ecko brand and then the lessons I’ve learned–trust me, I made a lot of mistakes–along the way.
The first person I ever tried to send one to was Kool DJ Red Alert. Back then he was one of, if not the, most dominant DJs in hip-hop, and Rolling Stone magazine would name him as one of the fifty most influential people in music. Every weekend night, in an era before iTunes and Spotify, everyone listened to Red Alert on the New York radio station 98.7 Kiss-FM, the audio bible of hip-hop.
I couldn’t wait until his Friday-night show. Red was famous for doing shout- outs. I had no patience for waiting on hold and doing the dial-up thing, so I went to my strong suit of communication: my art. During his radio show, I camped out at the Kinko’s and straight-up spammed his fax machine with “Echo Airbrushing” promos. Black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations of MCs standing encircled in a rap cypher. Or images shot from the floor to the sky, showing MCs jumping across the stage. All the images were unapologetically self-promotion- al—self-referential—and clearly branded and signed “Echo.” (I actually have a photo of one of the hats still–check it out)
And then one Friday night I’m listening to 98.7 like always, drawing in my black book, and I hear something on the radio.
“I gotta shout out my man Echo for blessing me with this fly gear! Yo, he got the fresh airbrushed gear, the craze snapback hats! My man Echo Airbrushing, yeah, yeah, Big Up Lakewood, New Jersey, and my man Echo, artwork is crazy.”
The shout-out tasted good. I wanted more. I didn’t get complacent and didn’t let it fizzle as a one-shot thing; I had an instinctive grasp of the power of inertia, so I doubled down and sent him more.
I knew that I was on the verge of something. I knew because it felt authentic. I could sense that the timing was right and that I needed to take it to the next level.
I hope these rules–many of which I learned the hard way–will help you do the same with your own efforts.
TEN RULES FOR BUILDING A SWAG BOMB
1. Never Send Directly to Someone’s Home
I’ve had that happen. It’s fucking creepy. Everyone has a business address, and in this day and age, they’re sufficiently accessible. No one likes to feel like you’ve violated their personal space–and if you do that, that negative feeling is associated with your product, thus defeating the purpose.
Even creepier? Sending actual bombs. Look, I know it is a “swag bomb”, but there is no swag in sending unsolicited items to a personal address, particularly when the items are disguised to look like explosives.
For example, if you’re sending out a book (as I did; more on this shortly), don’t send them to reporter’s homes. That would be creepy. I sent mine to their office address, through my publisher, like normal people would do.
The same goes for email addresses. Don’t find every single email address the person has ever listed and blast them all at once. Don’t scour for the “private” or “personal” email because you think they don’t check the main one listed on their contact form. It makes you seem desperate–and weird. Find their public email and make your pitch. If you do it well, it will work. If it doesn’t, the problem is your pitch…not where you’re pitching it.
2. Never Expect Your Intended Audience to Even See It
So make it good enough that even if it gets to only his or her lieutenant—which will often be the case—you still make a material impact. In other words, if you’re in the t-shirt business, don’t send one shirt. Send an enormous box fill. Make the delivery a big event.
My friend Ryan Holiday did the marketing for American Apparel and instead of sending some small package, he sent a crate. One of the bloggers uploaded a video on YouTube and it did 125,000 views. That’s crazy. Look at Pepperidge Farms, which overnighted a box of “Milano” cookies to a blogger who wrote about the cookie. The act was memorable enough that the resulting post on reddit scored Pepperidge Farms over 500,000 new views and fans. But even if that had never gone public, it was still a cool way to hook a fan up–and all they would have been out was a couple bucks.
Me, I seeded my brand with the bona fide artists and instigators of pop culture. The motivation wasn’t as simple as “I hope they wear this”; it came from a desire to educate them, to land on their aesthetic radar, and to build a literacy of who I was and what I was trying to accomplish. So even if the package doesn’t go all the way to the top, it’s still making waves where it matters.
3. Never Send Just the Stock Shit
Think deeply about what you will send them, and work hard at customizing the content so that the end user will recognize this as an amazing, highly personalized gift. And it’s just that—a gift—so…never have expectations beyond giving a gift.
Back in the day, I could quote Do the Right Thing and Mo’ Better Blues backward and forward, so I sent Spike Lee some gear too. I heard he had a new movie out—a biopic of Malcolm X—so I sent him a sweatshirt with a meticulously painted portrait of Malcolm X on it. Personalization is crucial. I must have spent two days on that one.
Spike Lee graciously sent me a thank-you note—an actual signed letter from Spike! Fucking! Lee!—and that felt good. “Ya-dig? Sho-nuff.”
Take HBO sending custom bags to promote premiere of “Liberace”. They featured items tying into the biopic of excess living and luxury to relevant journalists. Custom Moet & Chandon bottle, engraved necklaces, the works. They went crazy over the top because that’s Liberace. Something stock wouldn’t have made any sense.
Another fun bit of inspiration. Remember Woot.com’s “bag of crap” deal? The reason it was so fun? Every once in awhile somebody’s bag would be full of cash. You can bet the internet blew up every time that happened. You can create that reaction with your own products too. You can blow people’s minds with a surprise every now and then.
4. Never Have Expectations, as It’s Just a Gift
The joy and purpose has to come from the confidence that you did it; you took action. Not everyone will acknowledge receipt. That’s okay. The point is the send out a lot of these–eventually you’ll get one or two big connections that subsidize all the misses. After all, I didn’t just send to Red Alert, but also Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Q-Tip. KRS-ONE. Essentially, I sent packages to all the cultural pioneers who inspired me.
For my book Unlabel, I hand-packed 15 Ecko-branded white shopping bags with red paper inside. Inside each was a big white Ecko branded watch, an Ecko fragrance, the super sweet wireless speaker that looks like a black spray paint can, plus Ecko earbuds. The reporters I sent them to were likely expecting a t-shirt (or just a book in a plain envelope and instead got a Swag Bomb that said Ecko was much more than that. Even though we invested a couple hundred dollars in the package, I’m not going to be upset if they don’t write about it.
A swag bomb is not a contract, there are no guarantees. Even when it is a $50,000 swag bag at the Oscars. It’s all about the hope that if you send the right stuff and hit the right chord, magic will happen.
5. Never Handwrite Your Marketing Materials
It’s one thing to send a handwritten cover note (preferably a 6” x 4.5” stock postcard) that’s less than twenty words. Fine. But it’s something else to send an all-handwritten business proposal that looks like it came from Son of Sam. I don’t care how legible your writing is. Type.
Don’t think of this as sending “fan mail.” This is a professionally produced, hyper-customized presentation. When you send me (or anyone) a solicitation of your idea, or your product, or the marketing materials of who you are and what you’re trying to sell, work backward from the experience of cracking open the box from its taped seal.
6. Never Use Second-Hand Packaging Materials
A used Trapper Keeper folder— with maybe a sticker over the dents so that you pass it off as new—ain’t cutting it. Why should I take your idea seriously if you’re not even willing to make a quick trip to Staples? Presentation is everything.
For example, early on I helped my best friend Cale (an aspiring R&B singer) get a meeting with Michael Bivins (Biv) with one of my jackets. Biv, a member of New Edition and Bell Biv Devoe, was the Simon Cowell of early-1990s R&B; he had a knack for discovering young talent, taking chances, and making stars out of nobodies like three Philly kids who became Boyz II Men.
We went all out. I made the jacket in the Blue Room of my garage, using a canvas of Swarovski crystals I had copped from a rummage store. Black, pewter, red, and clear. I bedazzled the hell out of that thing, one crystal at a time. Then, I tucked the cassette of my best friend Cale, along with a note, in the left chest pocket. That’s what we really wanted him to see.
Same goes if you’re more established–don’t just have the warehouse or your manufacturer (or Amazon.com) send some package on your behalf. Be legit, handle it like it’s a work of art. Someone complained to Old Spice recently, so they unsolicitedly hooked the guy up. But look how professional it looks–it wasn’t a couple sticks of deodorant in a box. It looks legit–like they actually care.
7. Never Stalk
If you have a phone number or email of an executive assistant, fine, it’s okay to call once in advance and then again once in confirmation of receipt. (You can also send it with a certified receipt, so you know who signed for it, and when.) But don’t call repeatedly like some psycho. Not cool.
Look at all the gift bags they give out at SXSW each year. Can you imagine if taking one was an implicit contract with the companies to follow you on social media or beg you for favors? It’d be a nightmare. People would be afraid that taking a t-shirt was akin to signing your life away.
Treat handlers (assistant, publicist, manager, associate) with respect. Not only is this the right thing to do, but this could be the hand of the king—and they’ll later whisper into the king’s ear.
In fact, after you confirm the receipt, consider the ball to be in their court. Don’t do anything until they make the next move. Got it?
8. Never Forget to Include Your Name, Email, and Phone Number
Don’t presume that anyone is going to read a long letter. If the visual impact and the overall wraparound isn’t there, you’re dead. So make sure it looks good, feels good, and that it emotes your goals. And make it as clear as the sun who sent it. God-forbid you make a connection and then they don’t know what to do about it.
After we gave the jacket to Biv, we sat on pins and needles waiting. At three o’clock in the morning, the phone rang.
“Yo, is this Marc? This is Biv.” Biv’s signature gravelly voice.
“Hi, um, yeah, this is . . .” I tried to remember my name.
“I want to hook up with your man Cale. Tell him to be at the Sheraton in Red Bank in thirty minutes.”
Three thirty am. Cale didn’t chicken out. Cale jumped on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Cale took action. Two weeks later, Biv signed Cale to his newly formed imprint on Motown Records called Biv 10 Records.
When you get, The Call, be ready to go. No matter the time of day.
9. Never Send a Picture of Yourself Fan-Boying Out
Again, creepy. Let the content and the high concept speak for you. Don’t send some weird headshot.
Don’t be the guys and girls in these photos. Don’t! Look how miserable (but patient) the celebs are. But that would immediately stop if the people followed up with “Now let me tell you about my awesome business idea.” That chance was blown.
If there ever was someone to fanboy over in my personal life, it was George Lucas. However, instead of sending strange photos of my star wars collection, I waited until I was near Lucas, and casually showed him my geeked-out Yoda BlackBerry case I had personally made, and we instantly had a good vibe. There is a time and place for fanboy-dom, and pre-pitch isn’t it. (Here I am with George–see how calm I am being? It was hard but I made it.)
10. Never Gush
Notable figures don’t like being fawned over. Be careful to whom you say—and how often you say— “I love you.” (Good rule for life in general.) Don’t tell them, “You are my idol.” Speak matter-of-factly, and acknowledge the traits or practices that you respect and admire.
When Barry Sanders scored a touchdown, he would casually toss the football back to the ref, shrugging, and living by the credo “Act like you’ve been there before.” That should be you.
Leave the gushing to them. After all, if you do it right, they’ll be so grateful or impressed by the gift that they’ll give you the treatment.
There is one reality every entrepreneur has to face. You’re always pitching. You never stop auditioning. Even for Spike, even Mark Zuckerberg, even for the president.
The Swag Bomb is part of that. Get your stuff–because it’s great–in the hands of as many important people as you can. Sweat and bleed and innovate to make that happen.
An authentic personal brand is more than just an idea. It’s not static. It’s not enough to say I have a brilliant idea and then lock it in your laptop. And it’s not enough to just talk about it, tweet about it, blog about it. Talk is cheap. An authentic, unique voice is a doer.
You will always keep pitching, and you will always have to deal with rejections. This doesn’t mean you should give up; it means you’re human and you have a pulse.
It’s tough to find famous examples of companies, artists, or individuals who didn’t get there in some way with excellent presentation and artistry in bringing in important early influencers and adopts.
The more telling example is the thousands of companies and millions of people you haven’t heard of: the artists, entrepreneurs, creators, and would-be instigators who talked a good game but never put themselves or there or did the work to get noticed.
Afterword by Tim
The “Swag Bomb” approach has many applications. Instead of customization, you can choose a unique venue, as I did when I gave away 500+ copies of The 4-Hour Chef at a TechCrunch Disrupt event, knowing that bloggers and other media would be there. It was unexpected, and the copies disappeared within hours, leading to tons of social media chatter when it mattered (during launch).
Last but not least, it often pays to NOT go for the most popular celebs, Twitter accounts, or otherwise. Remember the bar scene in A Beautiful Mind? On a 1-10 scale, 10 being the most trafficked, three or four 7 bloggers featuring you is far better — and easier/faster to achieve — than you obsessing over landing one 10 blogger.
For more tips and tricks for how to jump from niche to mega-mainstream, I highly recommend you check out Marc’s first book, Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out.
Marc will also be answering questions in the comments, so please share your questions below! If you have any sample-sending success stories of your own, I’d love to hear them.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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252 Replies to “Marc Ecko's 10 Rules for Getting "Influencer" Attention”
I give other people advice that i see on this blog. They think im an expert but i say i just play one on the internet. Im about to start a blog on the 80/20 of different activities similar to what you did in 4 hour chef. What do you think?
Please do, I was thinking of doing the same thing. Or it could be a collective movement of some sort, where everyone could post different 80/20 subjects that would then allow you to search through a given database. Definitely something that needs to be put out there, but something rather difficult to really implement.
Hi Marc, thanks for the details about how to properly get your name out there.
Would these tactics still apply well to startups in the B2B world? Consumer facing products tend to have more identifiable influencers than business to business does. Would it be something as simple as identifying target customers/bloggers/etc. that would be willing to not only check out your product, but also tell other people about them?
Every industry– from big pharma- to farming, has influencers.
Every product and service can benefit. It’s a fallacy to think it is a trait only of B2C.
It’s a fallacy to think only B2C plays benefit. From pharmacy to farming…all trades/goods/services can benefit from a proper word of mouth endorsement.
Hey marc thanks for the advice I have a clothing Brand that is really really dope I read your story about you in da garage MAKIN shirts I can so relate to that da steps you took to get were your at is. Literally doin the same thing you did but Iam doin it on my own I was already doin or on da process of doin exactly what your TAlkin bout Iam at the level were I need the right people to wear my brand an talk about it I Desighns everything my self ok ONLY PROBLEM I HAVE IS SALEIN MY CLOTHING AT A PROFITABLE AMOUNT FOR PEOPLE LOVE MY WORK AN I KEEP GETTIN BETTER BUY MY PRICES IS SCARING THEM AWAY AN THE PRICE IAM CHARGING IS NOT EVEN MY PRICE FOR EXAMPLE ITS 50 $ just to make da item now I have to make a profit so I charge 75 $ which means Iam only makin 25 $ profit an Iam scarin da custermers away when they hear 75$ for a shirt from me that’s up & coming not like Iam balmain or a high end fashion yet so they feel like they should pay cheaper cause Iam up & coming but that’s mh only problem other then that Iam a monster at designinh I have a real passion an I love it it nothin for me to put the foot work in an hustle cause I love to hustle its nothin to sale a item but it’s just my price now we no rappers lie in they songs about havin money not sAyin this rapper is liein but I made a shirt for troy Ave an he loved it but soon as I told him da price he said it was too high an I have to bring the cost down to make it profitable which I agreeed wit him but I even scared away a well noin rapper cause my price I really need help marc try to check out my Desighns [Moderator: company info. removed]
This is great advice in a world that just wants to take the easy and non creative way out by spamming or cold calling strangers. This is totally legit. Lazy tactics come off slimey and get ignored.
Are there applications of this method to non-physical products such as websites? Any best practice methods for engaging potential influential users who can accelerate the spreading of the word? Obviously, sending them a link in an email is about as powerful as a spud gun!
The business of “impressions”. Meaning– “first impressions”. Think of those instances in your life, when someone made them on YOU. When they just stuck.
I have countless instances and anecdotes (Including how I befriended George Lucas, in the book)– that express the idea of a STICKY emotional impact.
My point is that this sort of hand-to-hand marketing is crucial, and far more intimate than splashing in/out.
(I clearly missed the rules…my apologies. Feel free to remove my previous post)
Been following Marc for a long time now. I even wrote a blog based on a video I watched of Marc speaking about how mentorship can come from the most unlikely of persons. Definitely a brilliant businessman, and indeed an influencer. Thanks for posting Tim.
Solid points. Can’t wait to use these on Tim. Muahahah.
Might I add one thing. Make sure you’re reaching out to the right person. Your outreach can be perfect but if you’re aiming in the wrong direction it doesn’t matter.
(Pssst. Tim. I think the byline may be wrongly attributed to mr holiday)
Great post! Mark has been one of my favorite entrepreneurs since I was a kid especially since I am from the Hip Hop generation. This was definitely a good read.
It was also cool meeting you in SF a couple weeks ago Tim (I was the guy that lost 40lbs with the 4 hour body).
Hey Marc, this was really super helpful, I always thought it strange that fans would go into raving-fan mode rather than try to connect with their celeb on a more personal level.
Quick Q for you: Do you have ideas on how to apply this to digital products? I’m sure bloggers receive “Hey check out my e-course/e-book” emails all the time, the same way you and Tim get sent real things. Any tips on how to really nail the pitch. (My only thoughts thus far are to establish a relationship with them beforehand, which can be difficult in itself)
Establishing a “relationship” first, is near impossible.
One suggestion is practice patience. Create the wedge, or the opening…and wait.
Re-affirm your presence, BUT DO NOT POUNCE.
When the time is right (INTUITIVELY), and “trust” or “recognition of your attendance” is garnered…POUNCE.
The SWAG bomb need not be deployed all at once. The point is, when it blows up…it had better leave an emotional impact.
Props to you brother. Its good to hear of somebodies roots when they have grown so big. Definitely a passion I can relate to. Have you ever experienced a disconnect in an industry that you had to overcome. I created the first individual cleaner for microphones and musicians love it. I’m finding out that corporate buyers for the retail side of the industry are not musicians and so can’t relate to the need for the product.. Any suggestions?
Reed, Great “why didn’t I think of that?” products! I run one of the top concert arenas in the world. If you want to send some product, I’d be happy to put them in lockers rooms of top acts and also give to stage managers. You could consider sending packs to other arenas and venues so they can “regift” to the acts that visit them. Rock on!
Wesley! I’d be more than happy to. Let me know the best way to get in contact and I will follow through! All the best..
Nice post. I was expecting some over the top/expensive ideas. These seem like good common sense. I like the part to give just to give and not expect too much. Many beginners try to reach out to one, two or three people, get rejected and give up. If you don’t expect anything, then reaching out to ten and having one respond is a great start.
Thanks for the solid piece.
Espen$ive? I always commit with ideas, never dollars.
Yes, sweat equity and mental agility will always win out in the end 😉
I appreciate the details Marc shared from his start, I hadn’t heard his story before. This sounds like a way to get visibility for your products but are there any tips for how to do the same for services?
Same rules apply.
Don’t ask yourself about what’s in the box– but rather how you can create a deep emotional impact/impression in the shortest amount of time– and with the greatest exhibition that you can think in a BESPOKE (CUSTOM 1 for 1) fashion.
To do this, you can send another product, that creates the emotional state that your service aims to produce. Time savings? Money savings? There are ways to express those concepts– that only need be SYMBOLIC of what your services can do. Make sense???
Ah Marc, this last emphasis on being symbolic opens doors for me.
Thanks so much Marc and Tim!
this TOTALLY makes sense
“To do this, you can send another product, that creates the emotional state that your service aims to produce. Time savings? Money savings? There are ways to express those concepts– that only need be SYMBOLIC of what your services can do. Make sense???”
It seems like the biggest take away from this is the “personalization” aspect. It’s the most powerful way to evoke a FEELING (emotion) from the recipient. It’s the classic “How To Win Friends and Influence People” theory. >> MAKE PEOPLE FEEL SPECIAL.
Just out of curiosity Marc, if you were to launch a web based or SaaS startup….. what ideas or space might you be looking into?
thanks!!! awesome post.
I also offer solution to problems and couldn’t relate to my industry. Yet your comment of expressing the final result with something tangible….expressing what the service is about and the result they can get by offering something related opened my eyes. THANK YOU
I GOT IT
Symbolism – what a great approach. Now the options are ULMTD!
I absolutely loved your post. (Thank you Tim for sharing) I am a 19 year old aspiring entrepreneur, and more recently I have come up with a way to reinvent how we use/perceive search engines. My plan is to start a company, and I have been working on concept designs. Along with some concept designs, I have been working on a business plan, but one thing that I know is that I am slightly deficient in the ability to get the word out on what I am up to. (Market myself/acquiring that “influencer” attention)
I was wondering if you had any recommendations for a web based startup that is trying to gain exposure. I can definitely see applications of the techniques you’ve already outlined, but I was curious if there would be anything specific you could recommend in my situation. I am very big about staying unique and absolutely different, so any advice would be very much appreciated.
see MY reply to—>> Sean Oliver — September 29th, 2013, 10:33 pm above in the comments.
Ali, you may appreciate Dane Maxwells’ insights into starting a web-based software business. I learn a lot from his free videos. From that model, you want to pre-sell whatever service you’re providing. Talk to the prospective customer and really find out what they’re pain is and how your product or service can help. Then offer them a discount if they pre-pay for the service. Then build/create/refine it. This way you know you have a viable market for your product.
Ali, I’m round 19 as well, you wanna catch up and talk?
It’s pretty hard to find people at our age which are into entrepreneurship (I only know 5 or 6 from my personal contacts), and it’d be fun to rub heads.
GREAT post. Incredibly inspiring. The whole time I was reading My thoughts were wandering to how I might be able to apply the Swag Bomb idea to what I am virtually creating. Ended up with a SWEET thought flash- exactly what I am going to do! Thank you so much for taking the time to inspire and share.
Insightful—and yet very common sensical—post, thanks Tim & Marc! It’s interesting how so many of these points can be put into the very simple terms of, “How would you feel if you were this person and receiving this swag bomb?” Empathy, and the ability to understand another’s perspective, are such crucial tools, even in the game of self-promotion!
Two questions for Marc:
1. How do you determine who is the best audience to send your products to? I read that you sent to many of the people who inspired and influenced you—which seems to me to be a great start. Any other suggestions for how, and who, to position swag bombs to?
2. What about swag bombs for service-based enterprises, as opposed to product-based businesses? If I don’t have my own branded products to offer (and no way in hell am I going to send a t-shirt with my logo on it!), is it sufficient to send a beautiful package of relevant products from other companies?
Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
1.) It’s mostly a qualitative judgement. The key is not to always send to the obvious folks– and deliberately pin-point some of the OG’s in the space. Red Alert was not the most famous in the music scene back inthe day, but he was deeply RESPECTED.
2.) see MY reply to—>> Sean Oliver — September 29th, 2013, 10:33 pm above in the comments.
Great post. Very interesting. How do these rules apply when your startup is selling a digital good (ex: app/website)?
see MY reply to—>> Sean Oliver — September 29th, 2013, 10:33 pm above in the comments.
I make electronic music and this gave me a good idea. I could pass custom designed thumb drives containing my music to dj’s after their shows. Is there anything more I could do?
I work full time in music A&R and publishing for one of the big firms (you can prob guess who) and you can definitely work up a bigger and more interesting bespoke package than just USB sticks. Think about what some of the more creative indie bands are doing: custom wooden engraved thumb drives, weird chip-board dynamic pulses, musical greeting cards, anything is possible. Think about ANY situation where music is, and get creative!
First of all I had completely no idea that the correct term is a “Swag Bomb”. Thanks for the enlightement. In my native language the literal translation is a “Creative Shipping”. Now I now how to google the heck out of the topic 🙂
Second – great post. I’m slowly finishing my book (fiction). Pitching it where I aim to get a connection will require a great deal of smart actions. Without the help of a huge publisher I’ll be there all on my own.
And also a question, if I may. How would you recommend to assemble an effective swag bomb if you want to pitch a product that is a “standalone”, without the other branded products around? In other words: you pitched your book in the cool Ecko-pack, but on what basis would you prepare the pack for a book that has no connection with other brands?
1st of F@#K big publishers, or big anything that have the Hubris of the Titanic running into glaciers.
2, see MY reply to—>> Sean Oliver — September 29th, 2013, 10:33 pm above in the comments. The products can be VIRTUAL, and the notion still applies.
Yeah, I’m going indie. Thanks!
I read this and wonder how can this be applied to “services” swag bomb?
I design blogs and websites, what can I send in a way that can catch the attention of you, Marc? Or Tim?
Sam Ovens has a great video about this. He cut out ads of businesses in the phone book that had low quality websites and sent them a package basically saying, “what do people do when they see this ad? here’s how you could improve your website–>link to video online giving free tips.”
Thanks Tim for sharing Marc’s rules. I’m a ‘gusher’ by nature, but I can see why holding back is more appropriate. It’s business, not a date! 🙂
Marc, I do agree with the value of personalizing and not cheaping out. After reading your article I came up with an idea and I would appreciate your feedback. I will be sending something exclusive to each of my clients to remind them of their uniqueness. While the items are not expensive, they are one-of-a-kind and carefully chosen with each person’s essence in mind. Would a nicely packaged swag bomb like this be effective too in your opinion or is it not enough?
Yes. being deliberate and thoughtful is what matters. Creating BESPOKE emotional transactions— 1:1.
indeed. Good luck!
I learned a new word today. 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration and the well wishes too.
Hi Mark and Tim!
I do photography and want to intern and learn from a sucessfull fashion photographer. How do i get there attention if i am still learning and my work is not the best?
express the idea that you will do ANYTHING. Sweep a floor. Clean a toilet. Express that the only currency that matters to you— is being in the presence of greatness and mastery. Do this…but do not come off creepy. be sensitive to an artists (photographers) natural disposition to be alone, or marginally anti-social. Good luck!!!!!
I can attest to the fact that sending care packages works!
With my clothing company in high school we mailed to media & retailers which got us a bunch of interviews and a 9.5 million dollar licensing deal with Starter Apparel when we were 18.
Then with my energy drink company under the same brand would send cases out and ended up getting featured in Maxim from a care package and TV shows, music videos by supplying for their sets. Ultimately sold the drinks into 55,000 retail stores and the best store we were in was Costco due to them asking us to fly out to meet with them because the secretaries & security guards would always drink them since we sent cases to the front desk every month just hoping someone important would see, and it worked!
Moral of the Story: Marc has lived & breathed every word and obviously Tim is Tim so this article is extra awesome.
Great tips, Marc and Tim. I’m an unknown author with a freshly self-published book – with all the competition out there, this post has definitely inspired me to come up with a whole new approach to pitching to bloggers and reviewers.
Awesome post Tim and Marc! Funny timing.
We just launched a new premium off-field apparel brand for elite athletes 2 weeks back… we were able to get our shirts and gear on dozens of major league baseball players mainly through hard work networking w/ athletes… heck, even got a ton of pics w/ them wearing it (including big names like Mike Trout)… and a full on write up on mlb.com and a 15 second mention live on the TV broadcast of the Astros game 2 weeks ago complete with our damn domain name plastered on the tv screen. Ha, was cool.
So my question Marc… this first rollout of a limited edition “cause” t shirt went decently well… so we’ve got a good start and some momentum… but we want to take this brand big and have it be THE clothing brand elite athletes wear off-field (on the way to games, travel days, heck… even everyday wear) and have that trickle down to the larger market.
… but, whats your ask when you send these big names your gear?
Are you just asking for a meeting when you send the gear or are you putting the full ask there in the “Swag Bomb”? I’d assume the full ask… so you’re not wasting the persons time wondering why they need to talk to you. Right?
We’re excited man. But want to really leverage these relationships we’re building more than we currently are… without going overboard and hurting the relationship w/ them. Like you said, even if they don’t respond to us we want them to say… “this gear is friggin’ awesome”… and start wearing it and respecting the brand.
Much appreciated guys!
Sometimes — them just wearing it, creating the evidence for your potential relevance is ENOUGH. They get tons of free shit. Free alone is not good enough to be worn.
Collect that evidence. In photography, etc– and share it with your buy side.
To the extent that there is MORE there, than pounce. But I would not spoil a great user acquisition strategy with other motives of a potentially less likely ASK. Make sense?
Awesome. I love it. Makes total sense man. That’s the approach we’ve been taking… just getting people to wear it… then leveraging those pics on our social media, in our store, etc. One of them went on to design our first “cause” shirt w/ us (raised a couple grand for charity) which was cool.
Thanks for the advice Mark!
This is a good and informative post.
btw, Tim, just want to ask is there a way to contact you directly, I sent a few emails, but without response.
I want to ask you an advice on one topic, will you please let me know on the email I’ve submitted.
Where do you believe the best art comes out of? Pain? Love? Have you ever had long periods of time where you didn’t want to create? What did you do to start creating again?
All deep emotional states. You harvest your creativity in the REST zones, subsequently after those big great emotional instances. It’s in that quiet, when you can process it that the best ideas/solutions are generated.
Expect the pain. Live for the love and the heart break. You are not alone—
especially if you know how to harvest it.
wow dude. that’s awesome.
Wow. well said Marc, well said. I had no idea the man behind the brand of Ecko Unlmntd, my teenage clothing staple, was so inspiring.
1) I just saw a talk by Seth Godin and he was adamant about fusing art and marketing, suggesting that originality and balls are general– and thus pertain to many areas of activity. I have always struggled with this dichotomy…you seem to have found a way to solve this problem. Staying “real” and producing commercially viable art is quite a puzzle to most artists, it seems.
2) Your comment on art coming from ALL deep emotional states was very inspiring to say the least…I’m over the persistent notion that art must come only from pain… although it seems it often does (Elliot Smith etc…)
I know these are not questions but I needed to get that off my chest…
thank you for sharing your experiences….
It helps to hear the voice of someone who speaks honestly and has actually done shit, not just talked about it.
You might want to check out ‘The war of art’ by Steven Pressfield. It contains some interesting thoughts that relate to your question.
Marc, great post. I think you covered it all for this topic so that people really understand that if you spam and stalk a celeb with your products, services, etc, it will have the reverse effect. I think that making yourself heard is really important when growing a business because it’s all part of the marketing mix.
People dont realize that the internet gave them one of the biggest window of opportunity ever. A creator needs to focus mostly on the quality and serviceability of their creation because as people become aware of the great creation, it will speak for itself.
My point is, focus on your stuff. Make it better. Service it better. It will then serve as your signature.
Here’s the thing: if you send a letter with a product that implies an expectation (e.g. “Hope you love it. A tweet would be great!”), then many people feel like shills or wh*res for helping you. In other words, they feel like a cheap date or a hired gun.
On the other hand, if you just send an awesome product with “Hope you love it as much as we do!”, the influencer can promote/share it and feel clean and good about the it.
Hope that makes sense,
Hope you like my business proposal as much as I do.
That should make you feel like a virgin.
Marc hit on this perfectly. We’ve done our job in the targeting, personalizing, and sending. Our actions and integrity are in tact and complete. Seems to me that the if we truly invest the time and energy into learning about our prospects and really personalizing these things….. our odds for a positive response are much, much greater.
Great post dudes. Thanks!
A good point of reference would be how AMA’s are conducted on Reddit. Give, give, give and THEN soft-sell your product (or movie/service/etc).
I had a question in regards to a reply you posted after a comment from Chris on 09-30-13 @ 1:51 AM.
You basically mention the recipient should be free to share the gift at their own discretion…Are you insinuating that if the gift is good enough, it will be endorsed without a requested call to action?
Please help clarify… Thanks Tim!
I like it. Well said. I once sent a tithe check (monetary biblical gift) to author Dr. Wayne Dyer with a simple thank you for his inspiring books. Apparently I touched him because he sent back a full page handwritten note and a whole collection of more of his books and tapes. Totally unexpected.
Thank you Tim and Marc for your contribution to Lifestyle Design.
PS Excited about discovering/creating my muse.
I remember seeing your early art advertisements in SLAM magazine back in the day. Back then, I think you were just getting it going. Who are usually the most approachable? Magazine editors? Newspaper editors? Agents?
I’d be cautious with “editors” & “agents”. That said they are often the gatekeepers. To that extent, find the ones who seem (qualitatively) to have deep respect amongst their peers.
Thank you so much for a really valuable and insightful post!
A question: I am in the process of preparing to launch our product/service (disruptive website). Would you recommend I start trying to reach out to Influencers now, or should I wait once we’ve launched?
My two cents: wait until you’re launched. You can’t control the fire; you can only start it. This means you can easily end up with influencers telling the world… while no one can buy your product. Make sure it’s available before risking broadcast.
I Concur with Tim. Wait until there is evidence that you are more than a powerpoint/idea.
I did it!! My family and I left my 70-90 hour job to move to Taichung, Taiwan. We are all studying Chinese and loving it. We rented a beautiful apartment for a fraction of the cost of living in the US. It took me about a month to relax after working like a crazy man for 20 plus years. I love your book as it gave me the inspiration to take the dive. I have an accountant running all finances and a manager running the business back home. Next month my family and I are doing a family picture shoot that will pay for language school.
Thank u man!!!!!
Huge congratulations, Steve!!! I absolutely love Taiwan and hope to get back soon.
Give my best to the family 🙂
Great advice. Give respect to people that they deserve. They worked hard to get where they are. But most did have humble beginnings and are willing to assist with the right connection.
Awesome idea, I’ll definitely be adding this to my toolbox. Along with Marc’s new book 🙂
Reading this post was the best part about today’s 5am wake-up. Thank you!
I’d like to know how you decide how much is too much in regards to money, time, and product sent in swag bombs. I’m a traditionally published author who isn’t seeing the promo I’d hoped from my publisher, and I’d like to do something special to reinvigorate my series after the third book comes out. Considering its coming from my own pockets but is tax deductible, what’s a reasonable percentage of my advance to spend on this sort of gamble?
What’s up!? I’m here.
@Marc. Thanks for your time and effort in the above posting. Very inspirational. How would the above apply if you wanted to offer a service instead of a tangible product?
Having just done my first successful kickstarter, my PR friend who didn’t know my industry spent time building lists from some public database and contacting them with little success. With a poor first week, I went through the places I wanted to be covered reading tonnes of content trying to find the journalists that would be interested.
When I finally got through to a journalist at GigaOM, we had a skype conversation where she started “I’ve been waiting for somebody to build this.” Applying the same strategy of finding journalists that already love what I love, I got extensive coverage and the campaign was successful.
For celebrities, I must presume the same is true, they need to love what I love already. I am trying to reinvent the furniture design industry and know that Brad Pitt loves furniture as he visited where I used to work several times. http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2334/2439483974_0c8bb3cda0_z.jpg?zz=1 I know Pharell loves contemporary furniture design as he designed some of his own (which is really cool too http://api.ning.com/files/MkUHX1iAVHFDbl0E-47tebOmFJHVvN0CmTovdmY3gdkBWdmCo8jcwFqALcxQEc8d1XV4eqgAeyn8alDKNA2NJIrIRvNNObAt/pharrelltankchair.jpg). I know Ice Cube studied architectural drafting before he became a muscian.
The problem is I have no idea how to find their addresses and no idea how to pay for the swag which can get pricey which I guess means I have to be far more selective. Although, it’s quite easy for me to personalise everything, in a way that’s what the Kickstarter was about, personalisation for everyone. I am going to do personalised standing desks for my next campaign and thought it would be good to send Shaq a standing desk that is the just right height for him…with a superman logo.
Also I feel I would like to wait to be more comfortable with production before trying to attract influencers, good/bad strategy.
SInce a few people are asking about digital products, I’ll chime in with a couple ideas, though I’d like to hear Marc’s thoughts.
When you’re sending anything, whether it’s t-shirts or a post card, what you’re really sending is an idea or a message, hopefully an offer. The purpose of the swag is to get that offer delivered, which is the hardest part of marketing. The bomb is designed to hold their attention long enough to get that message delivered.
So if you have a digital product, your goal is still only to grab their attention long enough to deliver a message and hopefully impress them. It doesn’t matter what you send as long as it meets that goal.
A classic example is Dan Kennedy’s brief case direct mail. When he wants to sell a $100,000 product he might put an old school tape recorder in a nice brief case with a note that says hit play. When you hit play there’s a carefully tailored sales pitch which ends with a call to action (pick up the phone).
When you mail this there’s 99% chance it’s getting opened. When they open it, there’s 99% chance they are going to listen to the pitch. Even without any swag, the goal has still been met, delivering the message. At its core we’re talking about direct mail.
The rules of direct mail math also apply here. As long as you’re spending less on swag than your conversion rate * revenue generated, you’re campaign is profitable. Tim might make you a few hundred thousand with a single tweet, so spending a few grand getting his attention could be easily worth it. I think most people under estimate how much they can spend on effective marketing by a lot. /rambling
For more —>> 2, see MY reply to—>> Sean Oliver — September 29th, 2013, 10:33 pm above in the comments. The products can be VIRTUAL, and the notion still applies.
Tim, any really good examples of something sent to you where you in turn gave it “influencer attention?”
regarding the bar scene scene in A Beautiful Mind and your blogger analogy, it seems it can go either way.
For example, if everyone thinks the high-trafficked bloggers or the 10 at the bar is too difficult/time-consuming to get, then it can be easier/faster for us to get it because of the lack of competition. This is one of the big points I took away from the 4HWW.
I guess we have to play this case-by-case.
Recently, my blog subscriptions numbers have slowed (halted), my Facebook talking about’s have dropped drastically, but I’m remaining consistent in my writing.
What is the number one recommendation you have for building a community that shares your work?
I’ve given T-shirts, built a collection of free stuff on the internet and I even a free eBook for subscribers. The initial momentum is good, but it drops off to a baseline that is basically unsustainable.
Any help would be appreciated.
Inspect the product. Whats your differentiator?
You have to be intellectually honest, brutal even— if the “there is there”? Who helps call shit on you?
Is there an alternative MEDIUM to express the product? Beyond “text”? Video? Etc.
I did a version of this during a raffle I held a month ago. I asked for improvements, finding buttons that don’t work, what my audience would like to see more of, etc. I made these modifications but they were more superficial and layout based.
In terms of a differentiator, I’ll do an overhaul and repaint the walls and get people I trust to provide honest opinions.
Would the addition of an outsiders opinion be weighed more heavily than those close to me, to skew for bias? Or should they all be weighed equally, including my own opinions for my site?
Many thanks to Marc (and Tim, of course!).
QUICK QUESTION #1: Did you ever struggle with pricing your products appropriately? Swag bombs are one thing, but did you ever lack the confidence to price your regular products the way you did?
QUICK QUESTION #2: With all this promo activity you did, did you ever get people asking for freebies? If so, how did you handle them?
I agree with a lot of what you said about how to interact with celebrities. Having been lucky enough to meet a lot of famous people over my lifetime, the number one rule that I learned is to ‘be cool’. Regular people might like to feel like celebrities, but celebrities just want to feel like regular people.
This came a great time, since I’m trying to build my own following right now.
All the best!
#1: Hell yes. Pricing is always an issue. No one bets enough on the winning horse. Or too little on the loser. It’s a persistent and iterative challenge.
#2: Hells yes. Worst is having to say NO to family/friends- who often feel entitled. I talk about this, and NEPOTISM in my book.
Best of Luck!!!
About targeting, I would add :
– make sure people receive the right product for the person they think they are, more than who they actually are. EGO
– see what they could do with your product and what it can possibly bring to them.
For example, I sell diet products and these things are very touchy !
Thanks for writing. This was exactly what I needed and what I need to learn and hone.
I do comprehensive spiritual advising/support, providing a concierge-like service that includes coaching calls on-tap, recorded guided meditations, and more. I’m working on getting on the radar of people who could afford this and would be interested in it–someone who’s having a midlife crisis and wants a deeper connection to God (either from a religious or nondenominational approach) or someone who’s been seeking for a long time and never got the support that they needed.
I’m going to get your book.
In the meantime, do you have any ideas?
Thank you so much and may you be blessed with everything that you want for yourself, that is in the Highest Good.
Love your writing style, thanks for sharing!
It’s often difficult to find a proper email address, business address or telephone number of the people you want to talk to. At the same time Twitter and Facebook have become legit communications channels. Would you count that as stalking already? What’s the best way to use these channels to get in touch? How do you put a good catch into 140 characters?
This post was the bomb!
It’s like Seth Godin’s purple cow. Be memorable with class.
I got on E Entertainment TV this way as a health expert. I had a super creative way I made my resume. Kinda hard to explain, since so many details. Anyway, everyone was storming this E’s Casting Director at a mini publicity summit. They practically needed hooks to get people to leave talking about themselves and fawning all over her.
When it was my turn, I took like 10 seconds, gave her my resume, (which she loved), said what I can do for her, and left. The next day they called and sent over an entire film crew (10 people), huge TV truck with huge disk on top, to shoot me.
Hey, how would you swag a book to make it stand out? I have a new book coming out next week, 101 Awesome Things to Do for Someone Who’s Sick.
I’d love to know how to use this tactic for a service business, like a web design or marketing company. When you make products you can give them away, but in a service business is requires something else.
Does anyone have any suggestions?
For more —>> 2, see MY reply to—>> Sean Oliver — September 29th, 2013, 10:33 pm above in the comments. The products can be VIRTUAL, and the notion still applies.
Marc….As usual, you are right on point with your suggestions. What are your thoughts on asking the influencer for a picture or shout out after you have confirmed they have received your product? Sometimes we know the product has been delivered to the influencer, but we still would love to have that “money shot”. Is it too forward to follow up by asking for them to take a photo with the product?
The common and crucial idea that runs throughout this entire article is that you need to remain authentic and put great care into what you do when you reach out to someone. One of the tragedies of the internet, and email, is the lack of authenticity in what a lot of companies do because they see social media and the like as a check box, not an opportunity to stand out.
Thank you Marc – I’m curious to hear what has worked on you in terms of someone trying to reach out and make an impression? (that you didn’t touch on in your list)
This is such an inspiring post. Thanks Marc and Tim for sharing. I am a writer/cartoonist, so right now my product is not a tangible object, but my website that features my work.
I think a good way for me to do digital “swag bombs” is to create artwork for people I admire in the digital space and place it in spots they and their fans will admire.
Hey Mark, awesome column, and this advice to me is really good right now & I will be ordering your book. My clothing company is starting to make waves over here in the UK and we’re only a year in, I have thousands of questions, but what is the thought process when choosing whom to send my Swag Bag too? By this I mean, did you send out literally hundreds or did you look for open opportunities and acted accordingly?
Thanks Marc. This amazing. I’m planning my first conference and I’d been thinking about some of the details of creating an unforgettable experience for that attendees. I’ll be referring back to your post.
What if it’s not a hardgood product, but a service…I have had over 50 guys in the NFL…have used my service. But I relocated to a market where I have no name recognition….I am very unique…one of a kind in my approach..or so I believe. By the way as a ” gift” , Mark I will let you know founded your lower back adjusted at the 4th lumbar. Any lower back issue should be resolved with that simple adjustment!
How would you approach doing this for books? How would you navigate the production costs of a hardcover? How would you approach this with ebooks or something like that?
This was a very informative and fun to read article. Thank you for sharing it and congratulations on your success. I am a manufacturer of Energy Healing aromatherapy sprays and jewelry. I have gotten close by ways of an order from a celebrities prop manager once and was wondering if it is appropriate to send more products to her without an order or the best way to handle that. I recently signed up with a celebrity baby swag bag gift company too. As far as customizing products I am not clear on how to do that with the sprays or how to find the people associated with the celebrities to send to. I appreciate any feed back. Thank you . Robin
This is David again. First, mad props for answering almost all the questions. Second, what would you recommend your average cost per “swag bomb” be (given the low probability of success)?
I have a fashion-oriented startup. I was thinking about sending in-store (cheaper) items that look like the items on the runway (with pic of runway ones) to prove a point that one could fashionably for less (with the help of my website, of course). Not sure what my expensive per package should be and whats the best way to optimize that cost.
So Mark (and Tim), how do I go about sending you the best workout shirt ever?
Thanks! – Paul
lesson #126 what not to do misspell your intended recipient’s name before hitting submit. Where’s the edit button?! Fail.
This is a great post Marc. Detailed with what to do. My main question is when do you result to doing the “pitch” of wooing potential fire starters compared to “wooing” the actual end users of the product. My main concern is sometimes i have noticed that it is better to woo the potential end users and get iterative feedback versus focusing energies on one individual who may or may not make a catastrophic difference in product placement. What is your experience on that?
Thank you Marc and Tim for the wonderful content you post!
How would you pitch a product that could help prevent drunk drivers?
I would start by getting it into the hands of bar owners- people that have a responsibility legally if someone drives drunks.
Hey Marc, First wanted to thank you for the great tips! I am actually in the exact place with my brand at this moment. We need more hype generated and coming up short. I was wondering what you thought of my products and if you think they have the potential to sell to an international market. I have followed much of your work and would like to present my brand to you and see what you think. I have had much hard times finding the funding it takes to make this brand work. I have everything I need now only lacking the “Hype” and being able to share it to a larger audience. If its at all possible I can send the link to my site and blog so you can take a look. I understand if you are not able to do to your busy schedule. Hope to hear back soon. All the Best!
Thanks for the post, and thank you for the follow up answers. I’m going to be picking up your book in audio format soon.
Do you think there is a point when celebrity “endorsements” actually send the wrong message for a brand? Such as if a celeb is shown in bad light or is it true all publicity is good?
All is publicity is just that. Publicity. Good & bad is in the eye of the beholder.
This piece above is not about publicity, per say, it is about influencers. Theres a distinction.
What size shoe are you?
11.5 US HA!
Would love to send you and Tim these babies in 11.5 —https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.630891176951229.1073741831.117353868304965&type=3
To-go athletic footwear— ever hear of the concept?
Amazing post and great timing!
I recently watched a famous actress fall on her high-heels, so I sent her a cheeky letter and samples offering my FlipSlips, which provide a solution for high-heel pain.
I cc’d the media as a satire piece to publish, which they said they would only do if she agreed. So I’m leveraging the media’s response to let the famous actress know that there is “an interesting media opp” is she agrees. Let’s see if this works.
Marc, would appreciate any advice on maximizing publicity once the attention is grabbed–and if this is a good strategy to leverage the media opportunity.
Ive been thinking about this idea – without having a name for it – for my startup.
Im wonderin how to get sizing info for influencers without comming off like a nutjob. Nothing is less custom than saying “Here is a pair of shoes that are two sizes too small for you.”
How did you get Biz’s jacket size?
Marc, I have followed you for years. Thank you for your expertise.
When I launched my first tee, I sent it to a popular blogger, who is also president of a local chamber of commerce. Several months passed, but my she eventually wore the shirt and posted it on Facebook. I was so thrilled. Authenticity is key! I’ll definitely get your book..it’s a must have.
I organize experiential marketing campaigns for a living and we always say it’s about creating fun and memorable experiences that make you stand out and really resonate with your audience.
I hope everyone realizes that ideas and tactics like the ones Marc mentions in this article DO NOT come around every day. This is marketing gold that really works.
Also, just pre-ordered the book based on this post alone — can’t wait to see what else Mr. Ecko has to offer. Thank you for sharing!
Great post and great timing! I am just putting the finishing touches on my Kickstarter promo / PR campaign.
I will be using the Swag Bomb approach, and after reading your post I am re-thinking the packaging for more impact – any creative packaging thoughts?
Great inspiring article. and Thanks for the sharing Tim. The ten steps gave massive momentum for us in London to operate in one of the most competitive markets in the world and Digital Publisher and Design Agency.
Thank you Marc and Tim for this post… i have read “this” material before but not until now do i see the importance in it. I have the perfect vehicle to do this with, ART!
I will implementing this with great force
Could I ask a little about settling, and avenues to “perfection”?
At your early years of growth, how far would you say that you reached for perfection in your product, vs. time and money constraints?
As an artist, I’ve started to think a lot more about the quality standards and the most efficient ways to create the end product so that I can grow in my reach as opposed to my price. As a designer, affordability, ingenuity, and sustainability are main goals, which lends to the DIY aesthetic a lot.
What advice would you have from your experience?
I’ve noticed something after reading this blog for a good 3 years. Each time I read a blog post, I feel I come away better (more knowledgable, excited to try out a bit of advice I read about, discover an idea I never would have been exposed to). I think that Tim, you have a genuine interest in helping out your audience. I think that’s a great quality and why people (myself included) keep coming back to the blog after all of these years.
Marc, my question is:
– What advice do you have for keeping the conversation going after you get a “shout out” from a reputable person in your industry. Should you even try to foster a connection or just be thankful that you were mentioned by them?
-Also, how would you thank them for giving you a shout out in a respectable manner?
Thanks Marc for your timely post! I run an online tea shop focused on loose leaf wellness teas. I’ve been reaching out to bloggers, did a press release and I’m growing on social media, but would love to mix with some celebs.
So I’m super excited to share my tea and love your ideas! Do you recommend sending samples (smaller amounts then what I sell online) or sending actual full size bags?
Great post thanks a lot for sharing! I’m just curious as to where your desire came from to start Ecko? Like was there a turning point in your life where you just said “screw it I’m gonna make this happen”?
Tim and Marc thanks for this post it’s very helpful makes you realize hard work creativity, and passion is the foundation to all success.
Great post here. How do you know if you are pitching a prospective person who is close to an “A” list celebrity the right way?
Awesome article, Mark – fantastic insight and easy to see how much thought you’ve put into it. We’ve done so much with celebs from Beyonce to Rihanna and still each week we take time to personalize and really THINK about what that person might want and like and how to further that relationship.
Having a single success with someone is great but building on and nurturing that relationship will ensure lasting success.
PS: Just a note, In Section 3. there are a couple of links to Woot.com’s ‘bag of crap deal’ that don’t go anywhere…
Pay attention to the recipient for a period of time. Listen. Take mental notes of likes/dislikes, an event that moved them, a triumph. As Marc points out so well — with discernment, gifts can be so well-tuned to someone that an impact is almost certain. This is so damn much fun to do, whether or not they respond is not important. It’s only icing on the cake if they do.
Marc, thank you — your advice is priceless. I have been eating up your recent interviews, in some cases going in for thirds. Awaiting “Unlabel” with much anticipation:)
Likely the best article I have read this year, thank to yourself and Tim.
I am new in the world of starting an artist agency and I have a group on my roster where we are wanting to get into the Asian markets, Japan and Korea.
Do you have any experience in these markets, what they go for, what they appreciate?
from New Zealand.
Thank you guys for the awesome info with
the post and the comments.
I’m still in development stage, but I found this
incredibly helpful 🙂
Marc, I’m more interested to know
how was the transition from your garage to
out the wwww. Are you covering this in your
Also, boxers or briefs? & what size?
Hello from Spain! very interesting article. But… how to send a swag bag with no money? most of the entrepreneurs have not cash…
I will wait your article about how to send a novel to editors…
Enjoyed the article.
You got a pic of your average looking swag bomb on the outside?
Thanks for the inspiration
Big shout out to IRON TAILOR Marc Ecko!
“Achoo excuse me/ flows just grow through me/ like trees to branches/ cliffs to avalanches”
-BIG (not Sean)
Great article on how to do swag bags, it seems an art in itself. I don’t have any questions about that approach as it seems well covered in the articles itself, but would like to ask if you used this approach to get your clothing line inside the Grand Theft Auto game? I think it was San Andreas.
I remember being able to choose to dress a character up and was surprised to see a brand in there, unless my memory is playing tricks, so wondered what sort of approach you had to pitch Rockstar or did they ask you to licence your designs for in game clothing?
Look how the Parisian designers court Kanye and Kim K’s attention by extreme care in presents for their baby girl Nori. Lanvin’s is particularly amazing.
I am sick and tired of reading all these great posts with so much useful information I’m 50 miles ahead of where I was before reading it.
You’re making the rest of the internet look bad!
What’s your address? I would like to send you a swag bomb!
Keith J. Leslie
Director of Marketing
HillBilly Brand, Inc.
Great blog post, Marc. Your methods are very much in-line with the 80/20 rule. Simple, straight-forward manners go a way and it doesn’t take too much effort to yield big results. Thank you.
Such great advice in this blog.
Wish I had a question, just to start some dialog…
stoked about your book…and thank U
Great advice. We make packaged products, so I often wonder the following when doing a press push/swag bomb:
Is it generall ok to send the product with customized packaging, packaging that the average consumer buying our products online or off the shelf wouldn’t see? Packaging that goes beyond just displaying what the product is–since that will hopefully be communicated anways through the swag bomb–but presents it in a special, more premium way?
Also, do you think express mail like FedEx is more likely to actually make it into the hands of the person you’re trying to reach, and of them taking slightly more interest in your company/product?
Thanks for the great post and advice.
Great advice man. Thanks for sharing, I’ve been a fan since I got my first rhino sticker. Quick question a little off topic, will we ever see a sequel to Getting Up?
Does anyone have any experience with swag bombs for digital products?
Previous app startups I’ve worked with resort to the traditional spam bloggers technique and for a new app we are trying a personalised landing page for each influential blogger.
How else can apps offer swag bombs besides offering discounts on the app or clothes?
Hi Marc and Tim
Here’s a Swag Bomb: you’re both invited on an African safari to a country of your choice, 10 nights fully covered on an epic adventure to the best wildlife viewing regions and lodges Africa has to offer. I’ll design your itinerary and personally guide your safari myself – if it’s not one of the top 3 travel experiences you’ve had – EVER – you get to come back the following year on the same terms.
Let’s get planning!
Richard, Marc and Tim are busy, but I’d be happy to go instead. Thanks.
Marc and Tim: thank you. This is the best thing I’ve read in a loooong time. i can’t tell you how many a-ha moments I had reading this and thinking about my startup decal business. May you live long and prosper.
What would be your best suggestion for legalities to look for when putting together a partnership deal with a funder? I’ve invested all I have, and even left professional baseball to start up my brand and am currently looking for a solid partner to help fund our startup.
I’ve been thinking about the best way to deliver a “swag bomb” (I call them “care packages”, but swag bomb hits it nicely), so this post is like kerosene to the ideas going round my head.
One thing that’s been keeping me up at night is hardware interactivity. If you watch a movie and there’s something valuable, it’s in a box, you walk up to it, the box comes alive and exposes whatever is inside.
Toy motor (2$-20ct), Li-On cell (2-5$), 3d printed parts (4-5$), LEDs (20ct-50$, depending on quantity, backlit button to burning man lightshow), Microcontroller with Capacitive Touch (4$), Cardboard (uhmmm…don’t have cardboard quotes in my head), etc.
You can go crazy elaborate on it (Nike has a nice comercial on that), or simply have a box that opens itself when you touch a button (Abra Cadabra).
If it’s nicely packed, it won’t even look like a bomb (hopefully).
First, I love your brand!
Second, if you have an iPhone app you want to promote, how does it fit in your strategy?
There is no physical thing to be sent to influencers.
Emailing them = spam
What are your tips?
Excellent read thank you for your insights. Marc, can you recommend any trade shows in Europe to look into?
What awesome ideas! My husband runs a nonprofit he launched a little over a year ago that works to educate the public about ocean conservation and marine mammal issues. He’s also a big Trekker and has tied (and yes, I cringe even using that word as a verb, but what the hell) his mission to the theme of “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” Remember the two humpback whales the Enterprise crew was trying to save and bring back to their time period? (You had to see it to understand.) The whales were named George and Gracie. Hence, my husband’s org is Friends of George and Gracie.
Anyhoo, he spent weeks designing a t-shirt for the nonprofit and wanted to give some away to a few eco-conscious, marine mammal-loving celebs who were attending the local Comic-Con. We ended up only giving one to Richard Dean Anderson in person (who was wonderful and gracious) and another to Shatner, but we had to go through Shatner’s handler. We never actually saw Shatner himself, so I have a sneaking suspicion that he never received it.
We’re going to try again the fall as we save up more funds and will try some of these ideas. Thanks for the great tips!
Thank you for this advice! I thought about it but now I will def excute.
Haha, these tips are awesome. I especially love the one about the headshots; that’s too funny. Thank you for sharing 🙂