Promotional products help businesses to develop a brand and grow financially. However, it is tough to track the return on investment for promotional items, which stops a lot of small businesses from including them in their marketing strategy.
Why Invest in Promotional Products?
Marketing research has established that the majority of consumer decisions are memory based; basically, this means you purchase because you somehow remember the brand. Consumers at present are inundated with advertisements. Unless you have the budget to hit customers across devices and platforms with an ad, or the creativity to make an ad that truly stands out above the noise, it is likely your company will be lost in the mix.
Promotional items play in to the universal tendency in human beings to feel compelled to repay (or reciprocate) when given a gift. The “rule of reciprocity” applies across all types of gifts, whether it is a material object, a kind deed, or an act of generosity. This rule has been proven across cultures; every person is subject to the impulse to repay gifts or favors with a gift or favor of their own. By giving away promotional gifts, you are essentially training your customers to like you and want to buy from you.
So, how can you use promotional products to boost your business?
10 Ways to Use Promotional Products
There are virtually limitless ways to use promotional products. They can be used alone or integrated with other media. Here are 10 ways promotional products can be used to boost your brand.
1. Business Gifts
Show that your company values your business relationships by gifting key clients, vendors and partners with logo-ed products they will use on an everyday basis. If you want to take this a step further, find out something they enjoy and provide a gift that speaks to that hobby. For example, if your biggest client loves cigars, provide them with a logo-ed cigar box or lighter.
2. Employee Relations
Studies have shown that employee satisfaction is more closely linked with benefits and free gifts than it is with salary. Welcome new employees with branded products they will use on the job during your orientation program to get things rolling!
3. Corporate Communications at Trade Shows
A successful trade show can often hinge up on booth engagement. Plan to physically hand branded products to passers-by or placing the products in an easily accessible location.
4. Company Stores
Making a promotional item available in-store is a great way to build fans of your brand. The items can be distributed as part of a bonus scheme or simply given away to potential customers.
5. Corporate Gatherings and Presentations
Meetings are necessary throughout the year to keep siloed teams up-to-date with your company vision. Make gatherings and presentations more enjoyable by providing logo-ed gifts that can be used during the meeting or at work in general.
6. Nonprofit Events
Have a cause you’re really passionate about? If your company donates money to certain nonprofits, take it a step further by donating promotional items. Nonprofits often create goody bags for fundraising events that contain a slew of promotional items. This is a great way to get your brand in front of people who will connect your company with a cause they care about, too.
7. Public Awareness Campaigns
One example of a company creating a public awareness campaign with promotional items is Colgate Palmolive. During Oral Health Month and other events throughout the year, Colgate handed out ice cream and cotton candy. When the customer reached the center of the candy, the stick was shaped like a toothbrush ad had the message “Don’t Forget” along with their company logo.
Image credit: The Inspiration Room
This is a particularly useful example because you can see the customer received a free gift and it was one hundred percent on theme with the brand.
8. Employee Incentive Programs
Promotional items don’t have to just be event based. They can also be used as incentives to motivate employees to reach a set goal. Consider an incentive program which has been created with differing levels of achievements, with promotional gifts as milestones. Your employees will have something to work towards and also feel proud to have reached certain levels of gifts that may over time become viewed as symbols of their status in the company.
9. New Product Introduction
Do you have a new product coming down the line? By gifting new products to employees, relatives, or at an event, you can receive honest feedback before it hits the market.
This can be a strategy for introducing a new service, as well.
10. Marketing Research
Do you have an IDEA for a new product or service? This is a gifting approach that is geared specifically towards survey and focus group participants. By giving them the product for free, you are creating a brand fan of the company, regardless of what they truly think of your new product. If the product turns out to be a horrible idea, the interviewee still leaves the table feeling valued by your company. This is what we like to call a win-win.
How to Find the Right Promotional Item
An effective, long-lasting method is to connect with your target audience on a more personal level, in the form of a small gift. As you may know from personal experience, most promotional products are kept for at least a year. This causes more recall and therefore greater brand recognition versus paid advertisements, which are almost immediately forgotten.
The promotional item you decide to distribute should be carefully selected. Below are a few suggestions which may be considered either mutually exclusive or as a group.
Themed. The promotional product should logically connect to your company’s product or service. One simple way to do this is to give away your actual product. For example, Apple gives away their own products to partners and employees in order to spread their apple as far as possible for brand recognition.
In case you don’t want to give your own products away, you could select a less expensive complementary good to be branded and distributed. So, if you are a sporting goods store, provide gear your customers can wear to sporting events.
Useful. In order to stand out, the promotional product should not only be on brand, but also useful. How many times a week do you think someone will wear your super cool branded t-shirt to the office? (Exception: start-ups with casual dress codes!)
Consider, what items will members of your target audience use in the specific environment in which they decide about using your product or service. For example, if your target market is executives in corporations, provide them with a gift that they will use in their offices. By placing your brand on their desktop in a useful way, your company can be top of mind when they make decisions.
Underscore your marketing message and differentiate your brand. If you’re a pet supplies company, you would obviously try to find promotional products that are related to dogs, cats, and other common household pets. This idea in this case is to also highlight a feature of your company that makes you unique. So, you would want to offer something that your customers can use for their pets that other companies are not commonly handing out.
Let’s say your marketing message is about how much you care for your customers’ pets. You would want to provide something that shows you care for the animal’s well-being. If you live in a cold area, you could follow the pet accessories trend to make your customers’ pets into mobile advertisements. According to Marketing Profs LLC, 50% of U.S. consumers own promotional outerwear and fleeces, and 75% of those consumers keep the outerwear because they are useful.
Personalize. Dale Carnegie pointed out in How to Win Friends and Influence People, a person’s name is the sweetest sound.
“Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate.”
This fact is also true when it comes to seeing your name. Customers like to use items that have their names on them, not just your company logo. Adding this personal touch shows that you care about the customer and are not just trying to push products on to them.
Skip items that will be quickly used and tossed. These may include logo-ed one-time-use water bottles. As a small business, your promotional products investment should be something that will have a long shelf life.