On Twitter this weekend there was a little round of tweets between some analysts about the worst swag (aka gifts or giveaways) they had received from tech vendors. This online conversation might continue on Monday with more analysts providing examples including naming vendors. Here are a couple of examples:
@idarose: my most inappropriate giveaway was from a bluetooth chip manufacturer who gave away a corded mobile phone headset
@jonathaneunice: Most inappropriate swag was from Sun. For several years, they’d preach Open, then give away some utterly closed, proprietary gizmo.
Most swag given to analysts – either for attending a vendor’s event or during the end-of-the-year holidays – is a waste of money and effort. Often swag sent in the mail ends up in the trash or in the firms’ break rooms for administrative staff to pick through. Event swag frequently gets left in hotel rooms because it’s too bulky to pack into an already overstuffed carry-on roller bag. Some firms are concerned about the appearance of conflict of interest so they outright forbid that their analysts accept gifts.
What is worse than a gift that is simply thrown away, are gifts that contradict the vendor’s message like the two examples above.
However, there are times when an analyst gift can provide business value to the vendor:
- Reinforces the enterprise strategic messaging, major marketing slogan or event theme
- Provides ongoing visibility of the vendor’s brand
- Travels well in carry-on luggage (if given at an event)
- Fits into analysts’ existing work habits (e.g., no leather bound notebooks for analysts who always take notes on their laptops)
If the proposed swag meets most of these criteria, you may make an exception to the “no gift” rule.
The best swag does not necessarily have much if any monetary value if it contains another prized characteristic such as “bragging rights.” For example, consider a framed group photograph of analyst attendees at an exclusive executive summit or deep dive with top executives. If done well, this photo – likely to be hung in the analyst’s office – will be a constant reminder that the vendor values both the firm’s and analyst’s participation and advice. One of my former colleagues has two such photos – with Microsoft’s Bill Gates – on this office walls and he speaks highly of the AR team that put those events together and the value he got out those exclusive events.
- Reconsider and resist any impulse to give analysts swag or gifts
- If you cannot resist, then carefully evaluate the role of the swag to make sure it meets the above criteria
- Ensure that swag does not have a negative consequence such as contradicting your message
Bottom Line: Analysts who cover a vendor or attend a vendor event do not require a gift because it’s their jobs. Regardless of the motivation for giving analysts something, picking a gift can be fraught with possible missteps that could backfire. Frankly, the best possible gift for an analyst may be a private conversation with your CEO.
Question: AR Teams – Why do you think it is necessary to give analysts swag or trinkets? Analysts – What are examples of the best or worst swag you ever received?