Swaga pooh-pooh za

When I received my invitation to attend last night’s Swagapalooza event in Chicago I had visions of a bountiful catch. The concept is actually pretty cool: bring a bunch of bloggers together, feed them, water them, and then parade a series of entrepreneurs in front of them; the entrepreneurs pitch their products (or services) in the hopes of igniting some social media buzz and viral marketing. And in return, the bloggers get a Swag Bag filled with said products and other little (in this case, real little) tchotchkes. I joked about bringing a wheel barrow to the event so I could lug all my loot home. Sadly, none was needed.

The best entrepreneur of the night was FoundIt! I think the opportunity – particularly for losers like me (you really have to dig that pun) - to register my easily misplaced items (phone, keys, wallet) is brilliant. Some kind soul who picks up my Péle Lunchbox on the street can text the ID or go online and let me know they found it. Brilliant – and practical. I’m a fan.

Alas, it turns out the swag was sad: a bottle of fiber laced water, one serving of packaged vegetable puree, a box of old-school candy, a squeeze toy. I got a pretty cool book from the “keynote” speaker and a beer pong game (yes, beer pong) that will not collect dust. But that’s it. No shit.

A couple of parting comments for the Swagapalooza founder, organizers, and attending entrepreneurs. Take it for what it’s worth, but you kind of asked for it…

  1. Pick a venue that isn’t such a dump.
  2. If the very fiber of your being is Swag, then you better Swag with Swagger. Your offering amounted to a pittance. I’ll get 20 times as much just for showing up at the next HR Conference.
  3. My time is valuable. I know, I’m just a low-rent blogger; but there’s a lot of stuff I can do with my time and you stole two hours of it.
  4. If you’re asked to stand on stage and promote an idea, you better be freakin’ passionate about it. And learn some pretty fundamental presentation skills. There was very little inspiration emanating from that microphone last night.
  5. You should include a directory of all the bloggers who were in attendance – who they are, what their blogs are, and what they blog about…a bio even. I enjoyed meeting several of my fellow Chicago Bloggers (my new favorite is Mobile Cuisine Magazine by Richard Myrick), but certainly didn’t have the chance to meet you all. Said directory might have been the best Swag of the night…

Thanks for the invite, guys. And sorry to pooh-pooh your event. It’s a really good idea, but it needs some serious pollish.

Image Credit: Walt Stoneburner

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  • http://www.swagapalooza.com Alex Krupp

    Charlie,

    Thanks for your honest feedback on the event. To give you some insight as to why it’s set up the way it is.

    First, let me say it’s probably impossible to run an event like this and please everyone because people blog for a wide variety of reasons. For some it’s their job, for others it’s a hobby, and for others it’s their art. Same goes for the product creators. So I want to keep the event structured in a way that allows people to connect on multiple different levels. That’s why conceptually I tried to make something that’s both as corporate as possible, and also as uncorporate and grassroots as possible at the same time. It’s why we get everyone into the same physical space where they can connect in person, but also encourage them to talk on twitter. It’s why we host the event for top bloggers, but our website is kind of crappy and we don’t really blog ourselves. Basically we’re trying to play with a bunch of different ideas and make something cool.

    As for your specific points, we did look at a hundred or so different venues but this was the only nightclub type space we found where we could easily fit 100 chairs facing a stage and still have plenty of room for networking, a bar, food, etc. Overall I thought it worked well for what we were trying to do.

    As for the swag, there may have been a couple things missing from your bag. I’ll send out a followup email with the presenters contact info so you can email them if you want anything mailed to you. Specifically we ran out of the promo codes for free tickets to Red Frog’s Beach Palooza event, and also you have to send Al a note if you want a copy of the book. I’m sure we’ll get a few more big ticket items in the future, but ultimately I do want to keep it more about the entrepreneurs than the products. In the past we’ve found that the monetary value of the swag has little correlation to how much people enjoy the event, although of course we are looking for legitimately good products that will benefit from the exposure.

    Lastly, we don’t have a directory because that’s something we’d have to ask people in advance in order to do. However, there is software that you can use to figure out who was at the event based on who tweeted, a la SocMetrics. We may ultimately do a directory in the future, but for now I think letting people who want it known they were there announce it on twitter is the best way to balance simplicity and privacy.

    Keep in mind that this is only our first event in Chicago, so future events are only going to get bigger and better. Working with consumer products is very tricky because a lot of them only know when they product will get back from the manufacturer within three months or so, and there are all kinds of inventory issues in general. But as we get more well known we’ll hopefully have more resources and leverage to keep innovating and improving on the concept, while keeping the same things that make the current iteration special and unique.

    Alex Krupp
    Director
    Swagapalooza

  • https://hrfishbowl.com Charlie

    @Alex – thanks for the thoughtful (and judicious) response. i think you guys have a really good concept here and hope you stick with it. i realize it can’t be all things to all people. but i bitch. it’s kind of what i do. i’ll look forward to seeing you guys in chicago soon and thanks again for the invite!

  • John Jorgensen

    Fiber laced water….?????