It may be the time to splurge a bit on promotional items for late spring and fall trade-shows, for in-house sales incentives and year-end performance rewards. Shirts and caps, pens and pencils, calendars, home decor, and sports equipment all continue a long marketing tradition, a $20 billion industry.
There’s nothing complicated here. Anyone working a trade-show, for example, understands that there is a people connection made when the handover is made. Give someone something; something is owed in return. The marketing value comes, in part, from the actual handover, handshake, eye contact, and verbal exchange. And it partly depends on the quality of the promotional exchange. (When visitors to the booth walk away with the promotional item, notice that they invariably do a quick check of the quality and utility of the “gift.”) On the other hand, allowing prospects to pick up the items without the personal handover has no residual or reciprocal value.
- Rewards for service or performance send a message in the quality and personal utility in the item. Likewise, the use of promotional items for occasional or seasonal gestures succeeds as a function of quality, branding, and usefulness. In short, sending or giving “trash” sends it own message.
- Determine what “utility” means to the target market. Explore the inventory for items that will be used where in the decision-making environment: a coffee mug, quality personalized pen, monogrammed folder, and the like.
- Differentiate and standout in the market. One measure is the frequency of use; for example, ideas like Frisbees or beverage Koozies may have worn out their specialness.
- Consider how the item supports the marketing message. Return address labels, personalized as they may be, do not set a business or non-profit promotion apart from others. A package of flowers seeds, a small product sample, or just about any golf-related item will.
- Personalize promotional items to flatter the customer. Where doable on small quantities, print, monogram, or emboss the client’s name.
- Avoid throwaways like food snacks, candies, water bottles, and sun visors There should be some shelf-life to offset the investment.
- Be contemporary. Customers are getting younger. They like tech things, workout accessories, and anything eco-friendly.
Key research findings by the Advertising Specialty Institute indicate that:
- Over 80% remember the name on a product received.
- Just over 40% admit an improved impression after receiving a promotional piece.
- Almost 25% are more likely to do business with an advertiser on items they receive.
- 60%+ do business with the advertiser on an item after receiving it.
- Pens are the most commonly owned advertising specialty. (Notice that “commonly-owned may not be a virtue.)
- Over 80% are kept because they are considered useful.
- Green tote bags were reported to be the most frequently used item.
There was a company from Pennsylvania that distributed individually wrapped Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels with their logo and name on the cellophane bag. It was a novel idea; but it turned out that the trade show occurred three days following the nuclear scare at 3 Mile Island. So, each time the booth reps handed out a pretzel, they joked that the pretzels would glow in the dark. It made a great conversation starter, and many of the recipients took the pretzels back home to continue the joke. That is what promotional marketing is all about!