Space Symposium swag delivers fun while raising company profile | Business

What does a lightsaber have to do with professional development and training in the space industry?

Maybe nothing, but attendees at the 37th Space Symposium, held last week in Colorado Springs, flocked to the Nova Space Inc. booth to grab one. Whether it was for the children or for themselves, it didn’t matter. Either way, something with the name Nova Space was heading home.

And maybe, just maybe, it could spark a conversation or, ideally, a new client for the company.

Garland. You’ll find it at almost every business convention as a marketing tool to raise the company’s profile. Of course, there are the pens, notebooks, eyeglass cleaners, and hand sanitizers — lots of hand sanitizers since COVID-19 hit two years ago. But there’s also creative swag that ties into a company’s mission or is just plain fun and thrills the crowd and draws attendees to the booth.

“The goal is just to get your name, your brand, and hopefully a conversation starter,” said Melissa Potts, chief financial officer of Nova Space.

The Minneapolis-based company also brought shot glasses, coffee mugs, water bottles, pens, coins, stickers and travel mugs. But lightsabers were the most popular.

How do you count the return on investment for giving away free goods? It’s not an easy math, but even one or two new customers — or a new connection or business partnership — are worth it, Potts said.

“People’s kids bring these water bottles to school every day with ‘Nova Space,’ so it keeps the conversation going when they get home,” she said.

Digital engineering company Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) always has a popular booth, as the company hands out free ice cream to attendees daily. But it caused a stir at the 36th Space Symposium in August, when they gave out branded boxers.

Yes, underwear with the message “cover your assets”.

“It’s all about recognition and remembering,” said Kate Flood, senior technical support manager at AGI. “Look, there are over 10,000 people and over 200 companies here. You have to give them something to remember you by. That’s why we have ice cream.

When people asked about ‘active’ boxers, company officials were able to tell the story of Comspoc Corp., a company that spun off from AGI in late 2020 following the acquisition of AGI by Ansys.

Comspoc provides ground-based equipment that tracks a satellite wherever it is in space, allowing the satellite owner to “hedge their assets”.

Affiliated Engineers Inc. (AEI) gave away another popular item – a rocket pen with four different colors (you push one of the four tail fins to change colors).

“I had a guy who told me he had seven kids and asked for seven,” said Brett Friedman, director of Aerospace & Test Systems. “People love them and they get a lot of traffic.”

They cost $1.50 AEI each. And, no, the “large family guy” couldn’t walk away with seven of them.

Some companies liked to swap swag with each other.

Serco’s Chris Hammond, contracts manager for the company’s Space Serco Defense in the UK and Europe, said they had swapped some of their foldable ventilators/frisbees for Nova’s lightsabers.

“One of our guys, a former astronaut, was having so much fun. He has two lightsabers,” Hammond said. “Sometimes we have practical things, like our hand sanitizer here that looks like a pen, but we also like to have a lot of fun with our merchandise.”