As the First Annual Intranational Kotaku Swag-Off Champion, collecting $100s of free products in just half an hour, I've burdened all sorts of new responsibilities. We're talking ribbon cuttings, parade float waving and the occasional swag champ imposter debunking.
Recently, John Chow wrote up a cute little article on how to score free swag at tradeshows. I recommend the read and enjoyed it much in the way I enjoy my 3-year-old niece's crayon drawings or a fine rendition of Chopsticks on the piano.
His top tips include nuggets like "Attend Product Demos" and "Make An Appointment" - both viable ways to obtain the sweetness of the swag - but at what cost? Should one drop to their knees in the middle of the show floor as well, performing fellatio on resident booth staff for a "shot" at some free goodies? In my post on Kotaku, I explained a way to obtain swag quickly and without rug burn. Hit the jump for an updated list from the major leagues.
1. Your time on the floor is valuable time. If a company requests you attend a presentation in exchange for a substantial free gift, chances are their presentation isn't very worthwhile. At a CES or E3, you are looking at products that won't be available from 6 months to who knows when. Is a small piece of yesterday's technology really worth missing out on a glimpse of tomorrow's?
2. Chow's right, the last day of a conference is a great time to stock up on the leftovers, but be careful. While a few companies will greet you with open arms, most of the best swag is given out early on. If there is something you need to have, like that inflatable sword/flotation device/girl chaser awayer, swing by the booth and get it on day 1. By the way, you don't need anything inflatable, trust me. (They look horrible in trophy cases).
3. A media pass alone can actually mean very little in a conference full of media. Not only must you still often ask for swag, you must ask someone who actually gives a crap you are media. Most of the frontline booth staff is filled with temps who don't care about you, swag, or that 103-inch plasma behind them. They want to get home shower off your geekfilth. Screw them - look for someone who is either older, smarter, or is holding a clipbaord. Then guilt/beg/threaten them for some swag goodness.
We're not saying Chow wrote a bad list - it just doesn't play the system. There is a reason the Intranational Kotaku Swag-Off only lasts 30-minutes; it shouldn't take a whole conference to walk away with all the free crap you want.