Matthew Hirsch: Let’s start by pointing out why we at TerraCurrent think the blackjack strategy chart was an inspired idea for a giveaway at RE+.
First, it’s so naturally on brand for kWh Analytics, for whom risk assessment is the name of the game. Second, it’s functional. You can use it to win money! Or at least have a little fun while the casino takes your money. Last but not least, it’s lightweight, portable, and not made of plastic.
Was it hard to come up with the idea for this giveaway? Did you consider other ideas for giveaways at the show?
Nikky Venkataraman: We considered a lot of ideas, but we knew that it had to be easy to hand out, easy to slip in your pocket, and most importantly, memorable. Plus, we were in Vegas, and wanted to capitalize on the location!
As a relatively small team at kWh Analytics, I had the privilege of brainstorming with our heads of Property Insurance and Business Development. When we all took a moment to consider that we’re risk professionals, we realized the riskiest thing you can do in Vegas is probably gamble.
That’s when the idea for the Blackjack cards struck – it tied perfectly into our expertise in risk management. The cool thing about the cards is that the rules written on them are the same ones the dealer uses. So you can keep the card on the table and refer to it each hand to take some of the risk out of the situation. It was a fun, interactive way to showcase our knowledge of risk assessment.
We considered other giveaways like a deck of cards and poker chips. But the Blackjack cards really stood out as unique, useful, and highly memorable.
MH: How many of these cards did you print up? And where did you hand them out?
NV: We initially printed 400 cards, thinking that would be plenty. Boy, were we wrong! We quickly realized we underestimated how popular these would be.
We made sure to hand them out during all our scheduled meetings, but we also gave them to friends we saw in passing and new contacts we met throughout the conference.
People got really excited about them and were asking for extras to give to their team members and friends. Next time we’ll be sure to print at least triple the amount, because the demand far exceeded our supply. We learned just how sought-after a creative, useful giveaway can be at a big industry event like this!
MH: Tell us a little about the creation process. How did you handle the design work? And who was your printer?
NV: Creating the blackjack cards was a really fun process. We did a ton of research to nail down the optimal blackjack strategy rules – when to hit, stand, double down, split etc. There are some minor variations out there so we wanted to be sure we had the best set.
As the in-house designer at kWh Analytics, I handled the design work to create a card that fit our brand style and specifications. I worked closely with a local printer here in Denver called Sir Speedy. They were great at advising on the right paper stock, corner rounding, and special treatments to make the cards really pop.
For example, they introduced me to UV coating – it gives the cards a glossy sheen and makes them stiffer, so they don’t bend easily. That was perfect since we wanted people to be able to slip them in and out of their pockets at the tables! The printer was really a valuable partner in bringing this idea to life in such a professional, durable way.
MH: Now let’s talk about the reactions you got. Everybody has an opinion when it comes to, well, everything. What were the most memorable responses from customers and friends?
NV: The reactions we got totally exceeded our expectations! I had countless people come up to me and rave that it was the most creative, useful swag they’d seen at the conference. Beyond just being impressed with the giveaway itself, people loved how it tied back to our expertise in risk management. It reinforced our brand as professionals who really understand the odds and know how to avoid risk.
Some of the most memorable responses were from people who used the cards and actually won money at the blackjack tables! They were so excited to come tell us that the card helped them have an edge.
MH: Are you going to bring the blackjack strategy card to future events, or do you have some other tricks up your sleeve?
NV: The blackjack card was undeniably a success for us at RE+. But we don’t want to rely solely on repeating the same giveaway at every conference. Part of what made it so effective was tying it closely to the Vegas theme.
For future events, we aim to brainstorm swag ideas that make sense for that particular conference’s location, audience, and overall vibe. We recently gave out branded sunscreen at an Arizona conference which was perfect for the desert heat.
I love coming up with new creative concepts to surprise and delight people each time. The key is keeping our swag fresh, on-brand, and tailored to each conference’s unique needs. While we may revisit or build upon the blackjack card, our goal is to consistently innovate to deliver something new and unexpected!
MH: What other inspired ideas have you seen when it comes to giveaways at industry events?
NV: I’ve seen some really clever giveaway ideas lately. One of my favorites was a branded fanny pack – it was such a simple but useful item that people were really excited about. I got one from a company at RE+ and still use mine all the time!
Another inspired idea was custom seed paper business cards. The cards had actual flower or herb seeds embedded right in them, so you could plant it and the card would grow! Not only functional but also eco-friendly.
MH: Finally, did your team use the cards to good effect? Did anybody win any money at the blackjack table?
NV: Unfortunately, I don’t think any of us left Vegas much richer than when we arrived – the house always seems to win in the end! But having the blackjack cards certainly made us feel more confident at the tables.
With the handy reference right there, we didn’t have to rely on trying to memorize the optimal moves for every hand. We could just check the card and know the statistically best play to make. But more importantly, we had a lot of fun together playing our hand and trying to ‘beat the house’!
MH: Thanks for joining us for this Q&A!