Ilya Vedrashko over at the Advertising Lab formerly affiliated with MIT has some observations today on what makes the perfect promo. In his view:
…it seems that good schwag is supposed to achieve a sustainable combination of the following goals:
1. Increase brand recognition through maximizing exposures, both in terms of frequency (how often do you see it) and reach (who else sees it). It should be perfectly possible to design proxy schwag: an item that you give to someone at a conference so that it ends up at the hands of the decision-making boss;
2. Build a connection with the advertised brand either through copy or relevant interactions;
3. Generate positive emotions in schwagees.
He goes on to say that the tricky part is achieving all three goals, and doing so for a sustained period of time. While I definitely agree with his ideas, I would to take his #3 a step further: a great promo prompts the recipient to feel a specific emotion and/or take a specific action. In that respect, I think it is better to judge the success of the promo based on specific results rather than general criteria. At any rate, check out the whole post for more ideas about what makes a great promo as well as some product suggestions.