Tips on Using Promotional Products in Your Business

by Tim Parker

Giving out promotional products is a great way to keep your name in front of past and potential customers. Use this advice to choose the best way to use promotional items for marketing your business.

promotional productsRemember the days when a company would print their company logo on everything? Pens, mouse pads, mugs—even socks! Remember when your holiday gift was a delightful gift bag that included a pen, a shirt, and a candy bar—all with the company logo?

It’s not quite as over-the-top as some companies used to make it but promotional products are still a key part of a company’s advertising strategy—and they should be when done right.

Here are some tips regarding choosing and using promotional products with your business.

What to Give Away

Almost anything you can think of can be turned into a promotional item.

Some of the more common and most successful promotional items include:

  • Pens and other writing instruments
  • Apparel (t-shirts, hats, outerwear, etc.)
  • Food
  • Water bottles
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Calendars

Logo or No-go?

You probably assume that every promotional item should have your company logo on it. After all that’s the point of advertising, right? Not necessarily.

Sometimes personalizing the item for the client makes more sense. Putting a good customer’s name on a ballpoint pen, water bottle, or reusable shopping bag ensures they will use it – and tell others where they got it.

By the way, a small company logo is OK; just make sure the customer’s personal identification is prominent.

Clothing Caution

The caution against logos on items goes double for t-shirts, hats, and so forth. You love your company and the logo that goes with it. Unless you are a truly beloved brand, – think Nike – chances are your customers will not relish the thought of wearing a ball cap with your logo on it.

If, however, you can include a logo with a catchy original slogan, you might have a winner. Examples from the past include “Where’s the Beef?” (Wendy’s), “Got Milk?”(American Dairy Association), or “We Try Harder” (Avis).

Environmental Targeting

It’s probably not what you think it is. Environmental targeting means to give items that will be used in the environment where decisions that involve your product or service will be made.

For example, if you operate an online business, give out mouse pads or flash drives – items that will be used when decision makers are at their computers thinking about placing an order.

Avoid Short Shelf Life

Try to select items that will be around for a long time. In other words, instead of an imprinted pad of sticky notes, go for a holder that can be used repeatedly.

One exception to the short shelf life rule is food. At certain times of the year – major holidays – a promotional gift of food is welcome and appreciated.

Logos Can Be Winners

Your employees, on the other hand, working trade shows or county fairs, should be outfitted in matching shirts, hats, or whatever else is appropriate for the setting. That is a smart use of logo emblazoned clothing and serves the advertising purpose without looking forced.

Another place you can use clothing with logos is with your best customers. They have that “love” attachment to your brand and will truly appreciate the special recognition you give them by presenting them with branded clothing.

Reward Referrals

Another area in which a logoed item works well is when someone has given you a referral. Reward the referral with the company brand and they will feel as if they are special. Again, choice of more than one item would be best.

Choice is King

If possible, let customers select a promotional item – assuming it is not personalized – from several you have available. Someone who wants and needs a pen will actually use it. The customer or prospect who could use an envelope opener will select that.

Give Something Get Something

When you give a promotional item to a customer or prospect, you set up an expectation that often makes them want to do business with you. You don’t have to say anything or make a big deal of it, but they will feel an obligation.

Break the Ice by Being Nice

Giving out promotional products is a good way to “break the ice” and start up a conversation. Sometimes that’s all it takes and next thing you know, the two of you are communicating.

Attention, We’re Here!

At trade shows and similar events, everyone wants to be noticed. It’s how you engage with potential customers. Nothing beats FREE stuff when it comes to getting attention. If what you are handing out is unique or novel, word-of-mouth spreads and you will be swamped.

Exhibit Surveys, Inc. said a study it conducted determined trade show participants who gave out promotional items had a 176 percent increase in traffic versus those who did not.

Regifting is Good

The idea of receiving a gift and giving it to someone else is not generally considered good sportsmanship in normal relationships. In business, especially when it comes to promotional products, the more mileage that item gets the better.

In general, you don’t have to do much to encourage regifting of a promotional item. It happens naturally. In some cases, however, giving away two of an item with instructions to “share the wealth” is an easy way to double your advertising impact with little effort on your part.

There you have it. Like anything, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing but when done right, the money you spend will be returned to you many times over.

© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc., DBA Business Know-How®.  May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission.

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