#WCS15 — Conference Swag Bag Analysis

Why 75% of it immediately ended up in the recycle bin


I immediately recycled (yes, I recycle- and I think you should too) 75% of the advertising materials from this year’s Western Conservative Summit (#WCS15) registration bag. Here’s a quick analysis about why, and what you can learn from it.

(tl;dr I’m not interested in your op-eds, I’m interested in the content you have that will help me advance the cause of liberty)

The Contents of the Bag

Contents from the #WCS15 Swag Bag: See if you can figure out how I felt about each pile :-)

5 op-eds (4 on social issues), 2 “Join Our organization” flyers, 2 “Come check out our booth at the conference!” flyers, 5 “learn about our organization” content pieces, and 2 data-driven booklets.

Out of those 16 pieces of marketing content, I kept 4. Two are of the “learn about our organization” type. I was impressed with the simplicity and visual of the design of both.

The other two are data-driven booklets, both of which are on the topic of climate change. And, yes, I’m actually planning on reading both of them.

Therein lies the rub: shouldn’t you be creating materials that your end consumer will actually consume?

Let’s focus solely on the op-eds for the remainder of this piece, the other pieces will require full articles in and of themselves.

Who are you speaking to?

When you’re at a conference like the “Western Conservative Summit”, it’s already safe to assume that the attending demographic is largely … wait for it … conservative.

A majority of the remaining attendees that don’t self identify as “conservative” would more than likely group themselves into the “liberty” camp (that’s me). As such, we probably agree with the “conservatives” on 7/10 issues.

Agree does not mean we have the same opinion: we probably disagree on the solution to the problem, the cause of the issue, the underlying philosophy, or some other facet of the remaining 3/10 issues. The point is, we are already ideological allies.

If you’re end goal as an organization is to play in the arena of the 3/10 issues, then you shouldn’t be wasting your money by putting your op-eds in the hands of people who already have a strong opinion, one way or the other, about a 3/10 issue. It’s divisive for a reason.

Thus, there is an immediate emotional response when I pick up an op-ed and read the title “Traditional Marriage Under Fire,” and I already more than likely know where the op-ed is going to end up: either in the recycle bin or in a pile labeled “to-be-read at some point in the future, but realistically never.”

Consider This Hypothetical

If 2,000 people attended the conference, and it costs you $5 to print one of your marketing op-eds in the form of a booklet, it will cost you $10,000 to put a booklet in each person’s bag. If 70% of the people behave as I do, then you’ve just wasted $7,000.

What if we took that $7,000, and instead used it to start a minority out-reach program? What if we took that $7,000 and instead used it to feed the less fortunate among us? What if we took that $7,000 and instead used it to deliver a message that would reach all of the attendees at a liberal political conference?

Or, what if we took that $7,000 and instead used it to create content that liberty activists would actually find valuable?

Here’s my definition of valuable in the context of the previous statement:


Valuable (adj):

Content that is objective (i.e.: data-driven), visually appealing, and consumable.


That’s it.

If your goal is to get me to read it, don’t insult me or my principles. Provide value from your own, unique perspective instead. Arm me with data, policy prescriptions, and stories that I can actually use to persuade my fellow citizens.

I have enough stress in my life as it is. I don’t need to read another editorial about social issues that will more than likely result in my blood pressure rising. It’s off putting, and does more harm than good to our cause for freedom.


If you were at this year’s Western Conservative Summit, and you received the swag bag, I would encourage you to examine these two pieces of content as the examples of print content marketing (delivered to liberty activists) done correctly:

“Scientific Consensus on Global Warming” and “Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?”


What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.