September 29th, 2018 BY Douglas Lober

How to Use Promotional Products Effectively

Your considering promotional products for your next marketing effort.

First, let us congratulate you on a wise choice. Promo items have some of the greatest market penetration, highest impressions among advertising mediums (almost 6,000 for a bag, for instance!) and longest-lasting utility to the recipient. Overall, they’re an excellent use of your marketing dollars.

As you likely already know, though, it’s not as simple as making the decision. If only it were. No, you’re going to have to take this decision and turn it into a fully fledged marketing plan that attracts and converts the people who matter.

Good news: It’s not as difficult as you might think either. Here’s your quick-start guide to using promotional products effectively today.

Identify Your Goals

Your business model, products and services will determine your exact goals for your marketing campaign. If you’re a company that sells smaller products that gateway to higher-cost, premium items, then your goal is to get people in the door. Local insurance companies are a good example of this, selling small packages for auto insurance, say, but hoping to hook their customers into major health, home or business insurance down the road.

If you’re a service-based company, on the other hand, you want people thinking of you all the time. Let’s say you’re a landscaper, with the goal of helping a homeowner or business clean up their grounds at least once a season. In that case, you need to keep yourself top of their mind so that they will call you when they notice those beds starting to look a little ragged.

Once you know whom you’re trying to get in the door and what you want them to buy from you, it’s time to dig a little further into who they are.

Get Clear on Your Audience

It’s not enough to give free stuff away. People might appreciate it, and they might use it, but at the end of the day you’re just hurling items into the void without seeing any ROI. You need that return on investment, or your marketing efforts will come to a screeching end pretty quick.

Instead of giving out shirts, calendars or bags and hoping your client, customer or prospect will find it meaningful, you need to make a real game plan.  That means asking yourself questions such as:

  • Who am I trying to attract?
  • What do they want from me?
  • When do they consider products and services such as mine?
  • What is most useful to their life?
  • What themes, colors and items match their lifestyle best?
  • Whom do they hang out with?
  • What will attract those people most effectively?

It’s a lot of questions, we know, but they’re important to at least consider. If you have a small marketing team, get everyone’s thoughts. If you’re the last stop with advertising efforts, then it pays to spend some time writing about this and seeing what springs to the surface.

Once you understand your audience – which is likely made up of more than one type of client, customer, prospect, vendor, partner or employee – take that information and compile it into an audience profile. This is also less difficult than you might think; here’s a primer to help you get started.

Design Your Promo Items Around Your Goals and Audience

Is your goal to bring those landscape clients in the door? Then you need items that they’re likely to have on them at the same time they’re on their grounds. Think reusable bags, which they’re most likely to tote with them when traveling between a car and a building, or even when enjoying a picnic outdoors.

If you’re the insurance company, though, you want items that will rear their heads when your prospects are making decisions, which usually occurs when sitting in their office or at a desk. In your case, notepads and pens are a good approach. Other ideas include:

  • Chew toys for a pet company
  • Tiny succulent planters for a home goods store
  • Shirts for an athletic company
  • Calendars for lawyers or accountants

What product(s) you choose, you want to make sure you pair up their utility with the activities associated with your individual business. How likely is your pet customer to remember you when potting a plant, for instance? Not much. Whereas if they’re playing with Fido and see your logo, the probability of thinking of you is higher.

Choose Items That Make an Impression

Sorry for the pun, but this is absolutely critical: If your products don’t make a good impression, then you won’t get those impressions you so desperately need.

An impression is a pair of eyeballs landing on your item; it means someone has seen it one time. Marketing is a numbers game, though. You need many impressions to make a conversion. The exact rate depends on your individual business, but trust that the number is hundreds or thousands to one. That means your items need to have mass appeal.

The most important means of making a good impression is to choose quality products. Cheap, breakable or ugly items will get the trash bin long before they can rack up the necessary number of eyeball-viewings.

Keep ALL Your Important People in Mind

Quick: Who’s your best source of business? If you said “existing clients and customers,” you’re absolutely right. While getting a new prospect in the door is great for your bottom line, keeping your existing customers interested is even more important. Make sure you cater to them with customer loyalty gifts, prizes, and value-added upgrades that help them use your products or services more effectively.

It’s also critical to guard against total depletion. If you give away certain items on the reg and you run out before certain clients or customers can benefit from them, they may take it personally. So keep up a regular ordering schedule that restocks your items long before they run out.

Of course, putting a regular promotional process in place will take time, but start with the above tips and you’ll get there more quickly than you could have imagined.