Promotional products. Most companies buy them for prospects, clients, event attendees—they’re a fact of corporate life.
And they do work: Compared to other items when it comes to the cost per number of impressions, promotional items often win. For example, the Advertising Specialty Institute found that the average cost-per-impression for a shirt is 0.005 cents. A prime-time television ad? Per impression, it runs 0.019 cents.
But not all promotional products are created equal. Some are hits—and others are misses. How can you ensure that your next promotional item nails the target?
What’s Your Point?
What do you hope to achieve? How will you distribute the item? How does the activity for which you’re purchasing promotional products fit into your marketing strategy and message? How will you measure its success?
Without a clear plan and an understanding of how these products integrate into your marketing program, you risk wasting a sizable chunk of your marketing budget.
And the Dumpster behind your building is not a prospect or customer.
Suit the Product to the Person
Who does the promotional item target?
Don’t select a product you’d like—select something your audience would want. Ensure it fits your purpose as well: You may want to give something different to customers than to prospects. After all, you should have a different message for customers than you do for people who haven’t purchased from you.
Don’t Fall into a Promo-item Rut
Some companies have “signature” promotional items. They should reconsider. Customers likely already have one from a previous encounter with you. Many prospects may as well—at least, if they’re in the pipeline, they will. Something new and different will make a fresh impact each time.
Don’t give a promotional product to everyone you meet—even if they fit your audience parameters. Target carefully for the biggest impact. For example, handing a gift to everyone who walks past your booth at a trade show —even if its attendees are your target audience—cheapens the item’s value.
Ensure that you have contact information for anyone who receives a promotional item. With current or past customers, you’re all set. But if you’re trying to attract new prospects, giving something without getting something in return is doing it wrong.
Find Something Useful
Choose something that your audience will use as often as possible for as long as possible. A study showed that promotional product use achieved a 69 percent boost in brand interest and an 84 percent increase in positive brand impression—mainly because of repeated exposure to the company’s brand though using the item.
Also, you gain fresh brand impressions from the people who see someone use the product—an added bonus.
Include a Call to Action
The item may be usable, targeted, and fit your strategy—but it fails if you don’t give the customer a way to take action.
Include your company’s contact information: logo, URL, tagline, phone number, QR code—whatever makes sense for your initiative. And with a finite space in which to work, make every line count.
Promotional items leave a lasting brand impression. Handing out cheap, useless products is worse than handing out nothing at all.
Detail orientation ties to quality, too. Check every proof that you receive from the vendor. Is everything clear and easy to read? Is the phone number correct? The URL? Are there any misspellings? Send the proofs through multiple pairs of eyes to be extra certain.