When I first started attending conferences I used to pickup a lot of marketing "tat" from the various vendors exhibiting. Over time you realise that you really don't need to have most of this junk in your life. I really don't need 20 backpacks, 15 water bottles, 500 pens or 100 notebooks. So these days if I do bother bringing back any of the "freebies' I restrict it to things that serve a purpose and offload as much of it onto staff and relatives as quickly as possible. I've got enough clutter without adding to it!
However, from time to time, companies come up with concepts that are truly engaging. Some of them are complicated and quite expensive. For example, the guys at Radix have given us several really stylish and useful external battery packs. I really like the design on the .host one.
But those kind of things are expensive. Unless you really skimp on quality you're probably looking at a spend of $20 - $30 a pop.
So the more you spend on stuff the cooler it can be. But you can spend a lot of money and not have that much impact. Conversely you don't need to spend a fortune and yet you can still hit the right tone.
The guys at Minds & Machines did a nice job during HostingCon last week.
Minds & Machines are the domain name registry operator for several domain extensions and one of them happens to be .beer. Yes, there is now a domain name extension just for beer and beer lovers!
So their choice of marketing gizmo was both simple, cheap and "on message". A metal bottle opener:
I'm not sure how much they cost per unit, but I suspect it'd be $1 or so (based on prices I've seen for comparable products). Even if it was as much as $5 a unit, it's still probably a more relevant and higher impact item than some of the rubbish other vendors were dishing out at the event.