Conventional Wisdom: The Power Of Advocacy Driven Giveaways has been inspired by the announcement at Vaper Slam 2 of a new policy being implemented at future TVA events. There was a little confusion surrounding the announcement so this afternoon I spoke to Mooch in-depth about the concept, the ideals and the reasoning behind this change.

The Concept

At vape conventions, we all love gathering around the main stage like a horde of hungry pigs waiting for the troughs to be filled – I know that I do at least –  waiting for the vendors to start throwing that free swag around.  We all do it, its exciting and it gives the vendors the chance to be recognized by the attendees.  Unfortunately though, when that same stage has a member of SFATA , CASAA, , Not Blowing Smoke or the Vaping Militia the crowd seems to disperse, going back to browsing the booths and buying products.

It’s a sad fact, but it is the unfortunate truth. We live in a world where the majority of vapers think our industry is too big to fall or have the mindset that if regulations kick in, they have enough materials at the house to DIY.

TVA developed a concept that benefits everyone at once.  The main stage is prime real estate at a convention, the man running the microphone and all of the audio equipment is a seasoned professional and he spends 3 days making sure that everyone has their amazing deals heard by the crowd.

The only difference that they have put in place is that if a vendor wants to get up on that stage, they have to be seen to be supporting the industry by supporting the advocacy groups that are working tooth and nail to keep us all in business.  They have implemented a donations policy that is actually so far outside the box that the vendors who take advantage of it will benefit hugely in the long run.

The vendor makes a donation to the advocacy group of their choice, telling them that they want to do a giveaway on the main stage and that they want them front and center in front of the crowd.  The announcer pulls in the crowd and the advocates get a chance to tell people the issues surrounding this industry right now, to  educate and to actually give people an understanding of the dire straights we are really in.

At the end of the advocacy speech, the vendor gets to throw balls – not glass bottles – into the crowd so that people can still get the swag they came up for in the first place.  The winner takes their ball back to the advocacy booth to turn it in for their ticket, giving the advocates a chance to further the conversation that they just started and giving the winners a chance to make sure they are doing everything to keep vaping the way we like it, not steam rolled by bureaucracy.

After they have finished with the advocates, they go to the vendor to pick up their winnings and believe it or not this concept works well with the public.

How Do The Vendors Benefit?

As I heard Andrew Osborne of NY SFATA and owner of Vapor Trail say repeatedly over the course of the weekend, vapers are becoming better educated in the advocacy side of the business.  We are currently in the Year Of Advocacy, where the man on the street is truly understanding the fight we are in.  A business who has been seen at the convention center standing side by side with the people who are fighting to keep them in business will rise to the top.  Vapers are looking at businesses to see if they are members of SFATA before doing business with them, asking what they are doing to keep the industry alive.  Vapers are, in the most part, becoming educated in the issues that affect them and the vendors who are putting the industry before themselves will benefit while the guy who is only here to make money until regulations kick in will find himself without customers.

This is not about the event organizers, it is not about the vendors, it is about making sure that the guy who started vaping last week to quit smoking has the opportunity to hear and understand what is going on around him.  Not everyone at the convention center is a member of 25 groups on Facebook that continually push advocacy issues and the time given to the advocates may be the difference between someone saving the industry or letting it fall.  He has no idea what a SFATA or CASAA is, for all he knows they are there to sell insurance.  The point is, by putting the advocates in front of the crowd, the business owners are ensuring that they will still have an industry to make money in.

My Take

As a vaper who wants to see this industry alive in 5 years time, I know exactly where I will spend my money.  I already ask business owners if they are members of SFATA and exactly what they do to keep the industry alive.  I don’t shop in Vape Shops that don’t have a CASAA sign up booth on the premises.  That is my personal choice, but I know there is a rapidly growing group of vapers who feel the same way.

We are the people who will take notice of those who put the advocates on the stage, pass their names around on social media and then put money back in their pockets because we know that it will go towards a company that is working to stay in business.

That donation earns something that isn’t given freely by anyone,  it earns respect.  Respect for the fact that you care enough about your business and your customers to participate in the greatest push to save our way of life that we will ever see, the fact that you put people before profits.

Some people may not see the beauty of this concept, but I for one applaud Freeze and Mooch for moving forward with this, it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision and it will pan out to be great for the industry.

Do not expect this to appear at every convention you attend this year, whether other organizers pick it up is entirely up to them, but I will tell them one thing.  The public aren’t offended by the concept, the fact that many of us walked into the office on Monday morning inundated with emails from people asking how they can help is a testament to that, and if we wish to continue to have these amazing events, maybe we should be using them as platforms to keep the industry alive.