Did you know that our perception of time slows down when we experience something new? The novelty of trying new things causes the brain to capture a lot of detail, which makes the encounter seem longer. Maybe that’s why trying something for the first time is one of the most fulfilling things that I do and, for better or worse, I always wind up with a story to share. Ask me about the time my wife, daughter, and I gave taxidermy a try one special holiday season and I will gladly tell you about it!

We were so preoccupied with whether we could, that we didn’t stop to think if we should.

When slinging swag, it’s tempting to simply let the product carry the campaign. But don’t miss the opportunity to create a new and memorable experience for your customer or employee. Use the power of uniqueness to slow things down and create a story-worthy event that participants will share long after the product is gone.

Event management pros know this concept as Event Activation. Event Activation is that element of engagement that inspires people to participate with your brand and share their experience with colleagues, friends and on social. If you’ve ever been to an event with a photo booth, a food station or a Swag Lottery Machine, you’ve seen activation in action.

I’ve heard Danny share a story about a law enforcement conference where attendees had the opportunity to endure being tazed for a t-shirt. What a memorable (yet WTH) experience! And you get a physical manifestation of the tazing with a commemorative shirt to prove it, too! You better believe those daring folks sported that t-shirt afterward and told anybody who would listen about how they got it. My guess is those participants felt time slow down, too.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to attend SXSW Interactive. While walking the show floor, I came across the booth for Maker Media. Maker publishes Make magazine, a publication for tinkerers, hackers and DIY enthusiasts. I must have looked interested because someone working the booth asked me, “Hey, do you want to learn how to solder?”

I absolutely did want to learn how to solder.

My secret shame was that, despite being somewhat nerdy, I had never used a soldering iron. How could I pass on this surprising opportunity? I was guided to a workbench where, on either side of me, more newcomers to soldering worked away. On the bench before me was a soldering iron, a baggie of parts and a small coin battery. For ten minutes, I was guided through the process of turning my baggie of parts into a kick-ass, blinking LED robot pin. It was one of the best booth experiences I have ever had.

“All according to my diabolical plan!” -The Robot

That robot pin is one of the best pieces of swag I have ever left a trade show with. I wore it everywhere. People would ask about it and I would tell them the whole story. My shame, the new skill I gained, my blinking badge of achievement. I was so pumped that I subscribed to the magazine that same evening!

If you want people to remember your brand and to become loyal advocates for your product or service, slow time down by giving them a unique experience that they will remember. And don’t forget to give them a quality, memorable token to remember it by.

– Eric Granata, Brand Fuel CTO