Creative promotional products

Why promotional products still count when you want to make an impact.

While marketers focus their attention on the increasingly crowded online market, the numbers don’t lie: with a recipient keeping your promotional product on their desk for an average of eight months, you’ll remain top of mind while your tweets and posts are lost in the ephemera of social media. In fact, if you give your recipient an umbrella then they’ll hang on to it for at least 14 months which is 14 months longer than a pop-up ad.

The beauty of promotional items is that they not only allow recipients to see your brand, but to associate with it and recognise it at a future date. It’s that direct emotional connection that social media finds difficult to match.

Make an impact

The promo products industry has never gone away – in fact it continues to grow at a healthy rate, clocking up an impressive five-year growth rate of over 15%. It’s the seventh biggest marketing channel in the US, with sales topping $21 billion annually, and in the UK just under £1 billion.

More interestingly, where customers have managed to channel out most online advertising, they show an 85% recall level for certain products, particularly ones that are useful and tactile. That far outstrips the impressions made by an online ad and creates favourable impressions – over 75% of recipients of your promo products will have a positive attitude towards your brand.

We all enjoy getting a gift. But a targeted and personalised promotional item says something more: it tells the recipient that you care about them and are happy to have them as a customer. Even a printed pen can create a feeling of goodwill towards your business.

Choosing promo items to brag about

Promotional swag (US) or products (UK) is cost effective and particularly prized by the under 55s who, perhaps surprisingly, prioritise this form of marketing over any other: especially internet pop-ups that are frequently blocked.

But before you load an online cart with cheap giveaways, stop and consider whether giving away those kinds of items will create the impression you want. If you don’t want your customers to remember you in the worst way, then you need to invest some time and money in getting the right items to create the best possible impression.

So how do you get your promo products right?

Quality, utility and attractiveness are useful watchwords to keep in mind when you’re making your decisions, but there are other questions you need to bear in mind as well.

What’s your message?

Don’t choose a torch if you’re an electric company, or a deodorant if you’re a beauty salon. Why? Because the underlying message these create – that your power company creates power cuts, that you have personal hygiene problems – is not the takeaway you want to associate with your brand!

Instead aim for the quirky or the high quality if you want to create a memorable first impression – those products will be used time and again, not handed over to someone else or, worse, discarded.

Are you selling yourself short?

The value of your gift should really be commensurate with the perceived value of your business. If you’re a one-man-band start-up then you can get away with an ‘ironic’ printed pen, but if you hire out a fleet of luxury vehicles then a cheap giveaway won’t cut it.

Your items don’t have to cost a fortune, but they must accurately reflect your brand and its value. Avoid generic products like T-shirts or tote bags unless you can make them covetable and collectable with inspiring creative designs.

Does the cap fit?

Or the T-shirt, or the fleece? Giving away wearables is often a good strategy but this is one item where quality is everything. A cheap T-shirt with fraying seams, a fleece that’s too thin or a cap that’s ugly and doesn’t fit well are all big turns off for your potential customers. They’ll leave a poor impression with your recipients and may even end up getting tossed into landfill, which won’t do much for your brand if you’re trying to project an eco-friendly image.

Is your promo making an emotional connection?

Choose a product that your clients perceive as thoughtful and adding value to your transactions and you’ll create an emotional connection with your brand that can drive website traffic and earn you positive customer reviews. Again, it needs to be a thoughtful and unusual gift, continues your story rather than a low cost printed pen.

Do you understand your audience?

You’ll never find one gift that pleases all your recipients, so you may want to invest in a variety of products suitable for different demographics and client bases. Above all, your promo giveaways should always make your company look good, which is why there are so many different products out there – one size very definitely does not fit all.

Don’t blow it

While there’s a huge amount of choice when it comes to promotional items, and they can be customised with your logo and contact details in a way designed to create the greatest impact, this can be a double-edged sword. If you’re not clear on the purpose and objective of your swag, then it’s easy to make mistakes when choosing your promo gifts.

Never choose items that you fall in love with, because the chances are your recipients won’t react in the same way you do. After all, you wouldn’t use an alcohol-related promo gift to promote a children’s nursery. It’s also wise to think twice about products related to your business – just like that electric company torch, they can carry the wrong message or simply be inappropriate.

Finally, just a note about effective messaging. You need to make every word count, so ensure that your brand messaging is both clear and on-point and relates directly to the campaign you’re promoting. Choose a contact method that you actually use – email, phone or website contact form – rather than one that you’ve been advised to use, otherwise you’ll have some very disgruntled ex-customers.

Effective promotional products can reap rich rewards in terms of reach and impressions, creating a real bang for your buck in terms of RoI and providing the kind of long-lasting impact other marketing channels can only dream of.

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