September 19th, 2018 BY Douglas Lober

How to Choose the Right Promotional Products for Your Business

If you’re like any other business, you wouldn’t say no to higher conversions, greater customer loyalty and better margins on your products and services. And if you would say no, well, we really can’t help you.

Seriously, though, every company wants to improve their sales. Every small business owner wants greater brand recognition and more loyal customers, plus the free marketing that comes with word of mouth and deeper product penetration. Not to mention, we all want people to know and think well of the unique offerings we bring to the world.

Sadly, in this extremely crowded marketplace, it’s difficult to stand out the way you deserve. It’s even harder to make a great impression upfront, the kind you need to wrest clients and customers away from their previous providers. While there’s nothing wrong with building a business slowly, that only works if you have the option to do so. Most small businesses, however, have only a few years to climb into the black before their hopes of success slip away.

According to Fundera, only about 50 percent of small businesses are still afloat in year 5, and only 30 percent make it to the 10-year milestone. (1) If you want to be one of the 30 percent, you need tactics for grabbing and keeping attention now.

That’s where promotional products come in. Let’s talk the who, what, when, where, why and how of promo products, so that you can choose the right ones for you and happily join the cadre of businesses whose long-term dreams come true.

Why Promotional Products?

At risk of going out of order, let’s start with your “why.”

According to Sageworld, roughly eight in 10 people have promo items, more than half of whom use them at least once a week. A further six in 10 people keep those items for up to 2 years, on average keeping that product for around 6 months. (2)

That’s a long time to hold onto a branded item. The good news for you: That’s all time your promo product spends in the world, doing your work for you. From reusable bags to tee shirts, nice pens to classy drinkware, these items not only remind their owners of how much they enjoy working with you, but they subtly introduce new people to your brand.

Moreover, a pitiful 22 percent of businesses are happy with their conversion rate, says Hubspot. Add to that the fact that businesses spend an average of $92 attracting customers, but only $1 converting them. (3) That means you’re paying big bucks to get them to the door, then locking it right before they can step through.

Promotional products help you turn that lock and let them all the way into your figurative (or literal) storefront. They help push your prospective client or customer the rest of the way into a decision, but gently, because you’re doing something nice for them by giving them a quality piece of marketing material they can use again and again.

That forces us to ask next, however, Who is the “they” you’re trying to convert?

To Whom Should You Market?

To whom you market really depends on your target audience. If you sell life insurance, then your target audience is most likely younger to middle-aged working parents and couples, people who have others depending on them. If you sell wine or other beverages, your customers range in age, but share a love of quality libations. If you sell concert tickets, however, that’s another crowd completely.

If you haven’t set taken a hard look at whom you’re trying to attract, it’s time to do that now. Sit down with your company’s stakeholders and draw up customer profiles for your main audience members. In the case of life insurance, for instance, you might choose:

  • Young couples
  • Middle-aged couples
  • Single parents with kids in the home
  • Businesses providing insurance to their employees

What Should You Buy for Them?

Each of these audience members will have different preferences when it comes to a marketing product they’ll use over the long haul. In the first case, opt for something serious, such as a quality pen or a reusable bag for their responsible weekly shopping trips. In the second, glassware obviously rules the day. Lastly, concert-goers love attire, so a tee shirt is probably the way to go.

Then you can break your audience’s preferences down in more granular fashion. Insurance agents, for instance, might provide:

  • Planners or calendars to young people with a lot to choose/organize
  • Nice writing implements for middle-aged couples
  • Glassware for single parents with kids (hey, they need to unwind!)
  • Keychains or smaller promo items for businesses

No matter what your target audience looks like, however, you can’t go wrong with bags. Reusable bags not only give you an automatic impression of environmental stewardship – reusable is right there in the name, after all – they also spend lots of time interacting with your clients and customers, their friends and family, and strangers at the grocery store.

That’s a whole bunch of eyeballs landing on your tote, over and over again. Roughly 6,000 times, in fact, according to the same Sageworld source. Plus, a full 31 percent of Americans own at least one reusable bag, and that number continues to climb every year.

When Should You Buy Promo Products?

Key to choosing the right promotional products for your business is knowing when you’re going to need them. Businesses vary hugely on what they use promotional products for, and that in turn means timing varies widely. Think:

  • Seasonal events
  • Charities and fundraisers
  • Outdoor events, such as picnics, baseball games or runs
  • Customer loyalty products (evergreen)
  • Sign-up promos (evergreen)

What really matters here is not what event you’re using your products for – although that’s important too – but the timeline you need to follow in order to have those promo items on hand when it matters. You need a stock of customer loyalty products or sign-up promos at all times, whereas you should plan to order seasonal promotional items about a month before the event – or sooner, if your budget allows it. That way, you have time to deal with anything going wrong.

Where Should You Plan to Distribute These Products?

Easy peasy: Wherever is most appropriate, from your event to your office, to occasionally mailing items to an important client or customer’s home.

How Should You Give Them Out, and What Does That Mean for What You Buy?

If you’re having trouble seeing why the “how” matters here, we don’t blame you. But it truly is important.

For instance, it’s critical you have sign-up gifts available upon completion of that sign-up process, or you look fake and gimmicky by promising and not delivering. Customer loyalty gifts can come at any time, but they’re especially effective at holidays or signup anniversaries. Both do well nicely packaged, so instead of just handing them out, fill mugs and glasses with candy, and wrap up shirts with pretty ribbons or put them in bags.

On the other hand, promotional items tied to a particular event can take a simpler route. Lay out tee shirts and pens, glassware and pamphlets on a conference table. For items you keep year-round in a store – either as a bonus with purchase or a for-sale item – they look nice lined up along a wall or window.

Bottom line? Your marketing needs dictate your products. If you’re not sure where to begin, go through the above items step by step to find your audience and target your needs closely.