I was watching TV the other night and a commercial for Geico Insurance came on, the one where R. Lee Ermey, the Marine drill sergeant best known for playing a Marine drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, played a therapist who was, well, a Marine drill sergeant. It’s a funny commercial, especially when Ermey asks his patient if he wants a tissue then throws the box across the room, but only once is the word “insurance” mentioned in the whole 30 seconds. If you didn’t already know that Geico was an auto insurance provider, there’s a good chance you’d have no idea what the commercial was about.
The Ermey commercial is an entry in one of multiple ad campaigns Geico is running simultaneously, and only in the ads featuring the CGI-animated gecko is there any discussion of what Geico offers. The rest of the ads are meant to do two things: a) create a positive association in the viewer’s mind between Geico’s brand and a positive emotion (i.e., humor); and b) show you the name “GEICO” as many times as possible. It may be annoying to some that there are so many Geico commercials out there, but the fact is, this media saturation works well enough that the company commands over 10% of the auto-insurance market nationally. (Considering that Geico has no offices or agents you can actually meet in person, that’s pretty impressive.)
Advertisers, marketers, and those of us in the promotional products industry use the word impressions to describe any between a brand and a potential customer.
Every time you look at a logo on a product or an ad, that’s an impression. If you turn your head, then look at it again, that’s two impressions. A billboard by the highway registers hundreds or thousands of impressions every day. National commercials register in terms of millions. And every impression a brand registers increases the likelihood that customers will remember the brand and thus choose that brand over others.
The greatest advantage that Custom Promotional Items have over other forms of marketing is that while an ad on TV or in print requires long and frequent repeated viewing, at tremendous cost, to generate the number of impressions needed to translate into brand loyalty, a promotional item is relatively inexpensive and generates useful impressions at a rate at least 1/3 higher than ads, according to multiple recent market studies. Why? Because a promotional item is useful. A Personalized Messenger Bag, for example, gets used over and over again, on the street, on campus, and in the office. 39% of people who receive a promotional bag hold onto it for over a year, generating thousands of impressions for an average cost of $15.00. Promotional Tote Bags are even cheaper and have the same kind of longevity and effectiveness.
Custom Printed T-Shirts, Logo Coffee Mugs, Imprinted Pens – these are items that people hold onto and use regularly, generating impressions for fractions of a cent per use. It’s hard to beat a deal like that, and it should give you an idea of how to choose a promotional item that gives you the best return for your dollar. Whether you go for a perennial favorite like those mentioned above or tailor your item for a more specialized niche, you want to make sure your customized product is something that will get a lot of repeat use and exposure. Printed Flashlights are good examples of this. Remember, the handier the item is in your end user’s everyday life, the better the goodwill and brand loyalty the item will generate for you and thus the more successful your promotion.
A promotional item that sits in a drawer or closet does nobody any good. Most people think in terms of making a good first impression – you should think of how your promotional item will make a good hundredth impression.