At the end of the original Slingbox beta program, I made a small run of t-shirts. The batch had exactly enough for all the beta testers as well as all Sling Media employees. No more, no less. The shirt had a ‘unique’ flair to it, and it was honestly a proud moment when we sent them out, in fact, it was a bit of an emotional one.
Inside the bag I found a cool t-shirt, a nice leather business card holder, and a few printed Ether business cards, with their signature ‘hello’ on the back written in cursive (you remember cursive, right? that thing we learned in the third grade to screw up our handwriting skills? if I actually still wrote checks instead of doing all-online banking, I guess it would come in handy, but as far as I can tell it’s right up there with the nine months fifth graders waste learning long division. but I digress).
I don’t remember how much the Slingbox beta t-shirts cost, but I’m going to assume it’s your typical $12ish per shirt. The bag I got from Ether might’ve cost a couple of dollars more. But as far as the emotional trigger it pulls with a beta tester goes, to paraphrase some smart folks over at MasterCard, it’s priceless.
Word to the wise: if you have a product, service, technology, or other offering that needs a ‘grassroots’ or ‘guerrilla’ effect, think about how big the impact is of making your earliest of early adopters a little extra happy one Tuesday afternoon. It’ll be the best $12ish your company ever spends.