Swag bags a hit during Chamber conference

From the Tallahassee Democrat

They come to network and leave with a loaded swag bag of goodies that would make your colleagues jealous.

Businesses recognized the opportunity for instant exposure during this weekend’s annual Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference at Amelia Island. Even the actual bag — a large tan tweed tote bag stamped with the Chamber’s logo in avocado green — was a major score. Perfect for the beach. Perfect for hauling this and that.

“I think when people get it, I think it’s really a nice surprise especially for the first time attendees,” said Tom Derzypolski, president and founder of BowStern Marketing Communications.

Some businesses went all out. Canopy at Welaunee, an up and coming housing community, dropped in a stainless steel cup. Think Yeti.

Care Point Health and Wellness Center, a facility under construction by Big Bend Cares on South Monroe Street and Magnolia Drive, gifted attendees with upside down umbrellas that fold inward to keep rain drops at bay.

One compact and clever item was a portable USB mini fan that plugs into an iPhone jack. It’s surprisingly powerful without draining batteries.

Mad Dog Construction provided a solar windshield reflector for vehicles with an illustrated sunny skyline that reads, “Leaders keep their eyes on the horizon, not just the bottom line.”

Considering the resort venue and private access to the beach, sturdy and colorful ping pong paddles came courtesy of Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. And American Bank dropped in a bottle of hot sauce to spice up the conference.

One of the most elaborate marketing moves was a flyover from the 3XB Group, a consortium of leading IT companies.

For the last three years, BowStern has recognized creative marketing ploys with the Bravo Zulu award and a $500 donation. Derzypolski, a former Navy medic, said the name is inspired by military lingo that means, “well done.”

Derzypolski is tallying votes for Bravo Zulu nods. Conference attendees are encouraged to use #BravoZuluAwards on social media and shout out businesses with slick swag. Voting continues through Aug. 22.

So far, businesses in the running are Thomas Howell Ferguson CPA, Capital City Bank, Marpan/Target Print and Mail Water Buffalo Party and App Innovators.

In 2015, Thomas Howell Ferguson won the award for its portable phone charger and App Innovators won last year for its interactive phone app “points challenge.”

The swag bag assembly is an all hands on deck operation.

Chamber Vice President Jay Revell said a businesses started handing off boxes of items a couple of weeks before this weekend’s conference. The chamber dedicated a room as the swag bag custodian. The items transported by U-Haul to Amelia Island and then every chamber team member works on filling the bags.

If he had to guess, Revell said the swag bag items may be valued at around $200. It’s no short order and a major investment to pull off.

“There’s only about 360 days before we have to do the next assembly line,” Revell said.

Contact TaMaryn Waters at tlwaters@tallahassee.com or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.