I have a friend that noticed that one of the products she was using to pull company information was giving her some bad results. The data was either out-of-date, or was just flat out wrong. When she notified the vendor of the error, she got a little bit of the run around on why it happened and a vague statement of that they were looking into it and would make the necessary corrections at some point. Within a few days, however, she did get a basket full of SWAG delivered to her office. I’m guessing this was the vendor’s way of saying “Sorry our data sucked… but here’s some gifts so that we can still be friends!!”

I understand what the vendor’s representative was doing here… trying to keep a relationship going between my friend and her company, but it seems a little sad that the company’s response to the error was trying to patch things up with a few trinkets. Maybe by now you are wondering just exactly what kind of trinkets make up for bad data? Well, here’s what she got:

  • A few hats
  • a water bottle
  • a Frisbee
  • a soccer ball
  • a football
  • some antibacterial hand lotion, and 
  • a yo-yo…. 
What kind of message does this project?? “Hey, while we are fixing our data, you can go down to the city park and play hacky-sack with some of the local unemployed hipsters!!” Or, as another of my friends put it, this was the basic conversation between vendor and client:

Client: “Your product is crap. Here’s why and what I think you should do to fix it.”
Vendor: “Here, have a messenger tote/ t-shirt/ stress ball/ travel mug/ Frisbee!”
Client: “Er, thanks, but your product’s still crap.”
Vendor: “Oh, well, here’s a Starbucks card, too.”

I’m not against SWAG, by the way… I love my double-insulated “Starbucks-like” drink glass with screw-on lid and loss-resistant straw that I got from Priority Solutions at the PLL Summit in Philly a few weeks ago. But, that is conference SWAG… not “sorry we screwed up” SWAG. For “sorry we screwed up SWAG” the vendors really need to think about what would really distract the client from the mistake. I think I’ve come up with a good answer. How about a gift card to the local liquor store chain. (For example, we have Spec’s here in Houston.) It’s small, convenient, effective, gets around the “you can’t mail liquor into Texas laws,” and eventually it makes me forget why I don’t like your product… at least while I’m drinking away my misery…