Promotional products are absolutely unique among all marketing strategies. In one sense, they’re staunchly traditional. Companies have been promoting themselves by customizing pens and bags and personalized T-shirts for decades.
But promotional products also have an edge that pretty much no other form of advertising can match – they don’t just disappear when the magazine page is flipped, the newspaper is recycled or the TV is turned off.
Still, you shouldn’t just rush out and order a bunch of promotional items. Even well designed and useful products should have a purpose and intent behind them. Is your company ready for this new form of brand marketing? Consider asking yourself these questions to find out.
1. “Do we have a good logo?”
Think of all the biggest and most public-facing companies in the world, from Apple to Coca-Cola. You could probably recognize their logos from a distance. In fact, you don’t need to see the entirety of a silver apple logo on a white draw-string bag or anything more than the white on red C of Coca-Cola to make the connection between image and product.
You don’t need to design a logo that lasts for decades, but you should have confidence in the one you place on your promotional products.
2. “Do we have a good slogan?”
As with logos, slogans are an excellent way to brand yourself with brevity and wit. Coming up with the right one will take lots of trial and error, but in the words of one of the best company slogans ever, “Just do it.”
3. “Will consumers use these products?”
Sometimes you’ve got to put yourself in the consumers’ shoes. As Heidi Thorne, a promotions and marketing expert, explained on her blog, this could take some basic marketing demographics. Or you could make safe assumptions – for instance, if you’re running a gym and want to give away promotional water bottles or sweatbands, there’s a good chance consumers will say yes.
4. “Is this a product to be used in public?”
Thorne also pointed out that promotional products have dual use as marketing. For instance, a consumer who uses a promotional pen in the comfort of his own home is the only audience being advertised to by that pen.
However, if a consumer wears a promotional ball cap out and about, not only is she showing personal pride in your brand, everyone around her is also being advertised to.
Therefore, it’s important to establish what your marketing plans are with each individual item. If your goal is to win over specific individuals in a viral way, privately-used promotional items might be a better choice. If you’re after the crowd, then stick to promotional products for a public arena, whether that’s a sporting event, outdoor festival or everyday usage.
5. “Is it worth investing in one-time use products?”
When you’re ordering a batch of tote bags to help market your company, you can design ones that bear your logo and name, or bags that feature your logo, name and the title of the upcoming conference or trade show you’ll be attending. While one is geared directly toward an event, the other has broader use, even long after the conference or trade show is over.
Picking between these two depends partly on your marketing budget and how important it is that you target specific industry events.
6. “What level of quality am I looking for?”
Promotional products vary in quality – this is part of what makes them so affordable as a marketing strategy. However, depending on how you’ll be deploying your promotional products, you’ll want to be wary about the quality you choose. As Thorne noted, in some circumstances low quality could hurt your brand.
Sponsoring a local summer music festival? Affordable sunglasses in a variety of snappy colors – each printed with your company logo on the side – are a great investment opportunity. No festival attendee is going to be expecting Ray-Bans.
Of course, if you’re catering to a different clientele and a much smaller number of consumers – say a VIP box at a concert – you may want to go with the brand-name shades. And luckily, InkHead can help you do that – even if it is Ray-Bans.
7. “Will this work as an annual giveaway?”
Thorne highlights custom calendars as a popular example of a traditional annual giveaway – something companies send out to loyal customers on a yearly basis. It’s effective, especially, as Thorne pointed out, when customers are looking forward to your promotion. And you don’t need to limit yourself to calendars either.
To return to the music festival, why not sponsor a new festival T-shirt each year? Or perhaps you’re a financial supporter for a local 5K race – your promotional water bottles could become a beloved annual item.
8. “What’s my distribution method?”
No company wants a closet full of unused promotional items gathering dust. It’s also your job to figure out how best to distribute these goods. While sending out some promotional items by mail isn’t a bad idea, especially when they’re lightweight, it can get expensive.
The Huffington Post has some basic suggestions for occasions during which to hand out promotional giveaways: Trade shows, grand openings and even just out on the street. In fact, if you build enough attention with your items, you could draw quite the crowd in a busy city hotspot.