Go to any seminar or workshop, and you can usually count on two things: Firstly, there may be too much information presented to you. Secondly, there will probably be some sort of a giveaway. We’ll save the “too much information” issue for another BLArticle®. Right now, let’s take a look at the giveaway. Like many things in the presentation world, there’s a lot at stake and there’s an art to it.
If the giveaway is not carefully thought out, it can annoy an audience. Once, I attended a kick-off meeting with a seasoned sales team, and they winced every time a giveaway took place. That’s because the giveaway was an umbrella. An umbrella? The fact that it was a cheesy looking umbrella didn’t help, but the deal breaker was that it was a full sized umbrella that wouldn’t fit into anyone’s suitcase for the trip home. The giveaway was mocked, and the two people who “won” them threw them away before heading to the airport.
If the giveaway is too costly, it can anger an audience. While working for Xerox, I taught the art of the giveaway to a new trainer. A few weeks later, he cornered me and told me that his giveaway was upsetting his class for some reason. After some digging, I found out that his giveaways had been $50 bills – paid to trainees who could provide a preferred response. Instead of motivating the audience to participate, the giveaway angered the audience, and turned ugly. There were disagreements about who had their hand up first, and about what constituted an appropriate answer.
If the giveaway is too personal, it can fool management. While working for Xerox, one of my favorite giveaways was a “Rob Jolles Action Series Poster.” This was an 8 x 10 poster of yours truly smiling broadly, with a creative caption under or above the picture. It was signed, of course, and it was my most successful giveaway. It was well thought out, not too big, not too trite, and easy to transport. Unfortunately, my manager never understood the silliness of this giveaway, and how much my students liked them, so he told me I couldn’t give them away anymore. 
If the giveaway is too trite, it can be forgotten. I’ve lost track of the number of speaking engagements I’ve attended when the “big, creative giveaway” was a sleeve of golf balls, or a t-shirt with a marketing message. The giveaway was intended to inspire audience participation, not to cause everyone to roll their eyes and remain disengaged. Needless to say, this type of giveaway does not wow an audience.
And so we arrive at the Robble-Head that was unveiled a few weeks ago:
- Robble-heads are pretty well thought out. Each Robble has been created to hold business cards or other small items. This means that this giveaway might earn a precious spot on a desk or another visible location.
- Robble-Heads provide marketing opportunities. On one side of the base, you will find the well-known words, “Energy & Enthusiasm.” On the other side of the base, you’ll see a subtle www.Jolles.com.
- Robble-Heads are not too costly and travel well. Packed, wrapped, cushioned, and individually boxed, they can easily fit in a suitcase.
- Robble-Heads are not too personal. Oops, yes they are! When an audience understands the personality of the speaker they are listening to, the giveaway simply acts as an expression of creativity. Not only is something personal an appropriate giveaway, but it can provide a lasting memory that has a much deeper meaning than a sleeve of golf balls.
Do giveaways really capture people’s attention? After I posted last week’s BLArticle® about the words on the base of my new Robble-Head, I received the greatest number of comments in three years – including twenty-two requests for Robble-Heads. For the record, Robbleheads will not be sold. They can only be won in the workshops I deliver. So think about those giveaways, and remember: If you are ever at one of my sessions and I ask for a volunteer, get that hand up in the air! There’s a good chance you will walk out with a Robble-Head of your own!
 It should be noted that the “Rob Jolles Action Series Poster” was revived the moment I left Xerox twenty years ago, and remains my greatest giveaway concept to this day.