How Brands Can Use Swag Bombs For Profit.

Blow Up Your Numbers. Bad Pun?

Bach Fakih
Jun 18 · 6 min read

You can thank Mark Ecko for the term “Swag Bombs” — A combination of sending your best product to the right person, for free.

While you’re at it, you can also thank him for proving the worth of his strategy. He built Ecko Unltd into a billion dollar company using this technique.

He was sending out products to influential people in his niche: urban arts and outfits.
One of the first Swag Bombs that worked for Mark was a detailed painting sent to a famous New York’s DJ that got him an on-air shout-out.

On another occasion, Mark spent two days on a custom sweatshirt he sent to Spike Lee. Spike Lee wrote back to Mark to thank him.

In both cases, there was no guarantee the Swag Bombs would work. The chances of both celebrities not liking the product, or having their assistants throw it away, were high.

But it worked. As do most things when you persist.

What has Mark done differently?

1) Give out your best product, for free

Think giveaways don’t work?

During his drug-dealing days, 50 cent used to pay his team to rob other drug dealers and would proceed to give what he robbed for free on the streets. That way he got new clients hooked on his product and could start selling it to them.
Morally questionable? Certainly.

Paulo Coelho pirated his own book on torrents sites in countries like Russia to increase his exposure. He went on to sell ten thousands copies of his book in Russia in one year.

Humble the poet posts videos of himself reading chapters from his book Unlearn 101 on his Instagram. His book is 1# best seller in his category on Amazon.

A few months ago, a woman interrupted me on my way home and offered me a free baguette — I politely declined…I had just finished working out, OKAY?.
A couple of days earlier, a bakery had opened its doors (right next to my gym…the bastards). The savvy marketer in me instantly connected the dots. A marketing stunt to provide exposure and kick start the client-bakery relationship.

I don’t have the bakery’s numbers but I can tell you this: The place is always packed. They have certainly earned back the money spent on their freebies, and much much more.

Giveaways give your brand the exposure it needs.

When you’re first starting out, your prospect has likely never heard of you. No wonders. There’s so much noise on the market.

If you want the right audience to pay attention to you, a new creator, you need to give them a reason to look. Giveaways are often the best way to do so.

It doesn’t matter how you plan on making your money, you won’t get the chance unless people have heard of your stuff ~ Cory Doctorow

There’s one important point that I can’t stress enough.

What you’re giving away must appeal to your audience and be extremely valuable. Don’t give away an iPhone if you’re in the fashion industry. That’s doesn’t make sense. You’d end up attracting the wrong audience. Give away your own products. Give away your best products.

You won’t just attract your clientele’s eyes, you will keep their attention.

Marc Ecko wasn’t sending out botched clothes by mail to every New Yorker in the yellow pages (does it still exist?). He knew who he needed to reach. He had the right audience in his scope. He wanted hip-hop celebrities and influencers attention, and that’s what he worked toward.

The bakery could have given all the baguettes it wants. If it wasn’t a tasty piece of french bread, people would have never come back.

Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix, etc… All these companies give you some sort of free trial to test their product. They know how valuable their product is and how you’ll end up addicted to it (who here can honestly say they’ve never binged a Netflix show?…Put that hand down Sally, I don’t believe you.)

Free or not, it needs to be on point. That’s the first impression your brand is giving out. You don’t want your first impression to be cheap, or worse, forgettable, do you?

But comes another problem: How will the world know about your giveaway? Word of mouth.

2- Word of mouth

According to a study by McKinsey, between 20% and 50% of all purchasing decision happen from a version of words of mouth.

And, according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

Where did you first hear about the new album you’ve been listening to on repeat for the past few days?

Which skin care product would you buy: the one you saw on TV or the one your friend uses and swears by?

If Elon Musk tweeted praises about a certain book, I bet you’ll have every wantrepreneur ordering that book on Amazon (with next day delivery, please.)

Look, if one of your friends were to tell you some brand is shit, you would know where NOT to spend your money.

Companies Live or die by word of mouth ~ Jonah Berger

Influencer Marketing is based on word of mouth.

An influencer is someone who has an audience that trusts him and is ready to buy something he recommends. So basically, someone with “friends” all over the world.

Mark Ecko reached for the NY DJ and host of a radio show about the coolest trends in hip-hop’s culture.

Open up your Instagram and scroll through your feed. You’ll see influencer marketing in action.

As with the first strategy, for your product to surf on a 10 feet word of mouth wave, it needs to be great. When people are suggesting your products to their friends, they aren’t doing it for you. They are doing it for each other. That’s how good your product must be.

You can ask for referrals and give out rewards to referees in exchange for having one of their friends buy your product. Or you can keep it organic, and let your product do the job.

How do you attract those first customers so they can start telling their friends about you? Go back to number 1.

You might get stuck in a loop doing this. Giveaways to introduce your product to the market, great. But even then, how will your giveaways reach your targeted audience?

Mix The Two And…POOF!

Each of these strategies is great alone, but the magic happens when you combine them.

You know when you take two already amazing things separately and you combine them into a fantastic combo?

Vanilla Ice-cream and Oreos.
A Corona and the beach.
Women and…woops my hand slipped there, my bad.

How do you create the perfect combo?

Swag Bombs.

Mark Ecko did it to perfection. He found the most influential people in the urban art niche and gave them high-quality products. He kept at it until it finally happened for him.

GymShark is doing it too by shipping free high-quality gym gear to fitness influencers. It is now the UK’s fastest-growing fashion company and the second fastest growing UK’s private company all categories included.

MVMT Watches did it. Already established brands are getting on it too: Nike, Starbucks, GAP and even Porsche.

Find influencers within your niche and send them your product. If even Porsche is doing it, why wouldn’t it be a good fit for your company?

Oh, your product is an online course? Work on your content marketing!

This is a cold call technique. Don’t expect anything.

They are not entitled to anything. They don’t have to answer you.

You might just get a thank you. Or even no response at all.

Remember, you’re trying to build a connection. You don’t want to pressure them into answering you or anything else.
It might work on your first try, or you might be left searching for a sixth influencer. You’re playing the long game.

By now, we know your product is great and you’ve done your research on who to reach out to. You can still increase your chances. Craft a killer approach.

You want your message to be polite, sincere and easy to respond to. Not intimidating, spammy or salesy.

You can find Nico Ryan’s examples for his blog articles Swag Bombs right here. (Step 5)

How do you think an influencer would react when he reads “Post about me or send me the stuff back”?


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Bach Fakih

Written by

Striving to have more impact than an Instagram Fitness Influencer. Marketer and copywriter. @Destinyachievement on Instagram.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +479K people. Follow to join our community.