smb-tech-trendsDo promotional products work? We know they are appealing. Go to any trade show and watch attendees load up on pens, buttons, bottled water totes, refrigerator magnets, key chains, and even little tins with candies inside. Seems we can’t enough ‘free stuff.” But do those items actually make your small business stand out, help promote your brand and keep you top of mind?

From an advertising standpoint, it seems that ‘putting your name here’ on a promotional item actually helps people recall your company and your message.  A recent study on “The Influence of Promotional Products on Consumer Behavior,” commissioned by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) demonstrates the effectiveness of promotional products as an advertising medium. The November 2012 study of 700 travelers at New York’s LaGuardia airport found:

  • 88 percent recalled the advertiser’s name on promotional products and 62 percent recalled the advertiser’s message
  • 55 percent had done business with the advertiser before receiving the item. Of these 85 did business with the advertiser after receiving the time. By comparison, 45 percent had not done business with the advertiser before receiving the item. Of these, 11 percent did business with the advertiser after receiving the item
  • 81 percent keep promotional items because they are useful
  • 53 percent use promotional products once a week and 47 percent keep them for more than a year

Promotional products also aid viral exposure since like your social media campaigns, they often are viewed and shared by others or even given away. As an example, the average pen, a very popular promotional item, has 8 owners in its lifetime.

Make the most of promotional items

Here are some tips to get the most from your promotional item campaign:

Set goals: Determine what you specifically want to achieve with your promotional item besides awareness. Do you want to increase leads so that an item seem by many can help spread the word? Are your promotional items a way to catch attention at trade shows and drive booth traffic?  Do you want the item to be a reminder to call when a customer is in need of your particular product or service? Maybe your promotional item is part of special campaign such as a new product launch to encourage calls for information. Your objective will help you decide on the most appropriate gift.

Keys to MarketingShowcase your brand: All your marketing efforts need to work together to convey your brand. Promotional items are no exception. Ideally tie a promotional item to your business or service offering.  If you are an IT consultant; you could give out flash drive key chains. Accountants might want to give out pens or note pads. Make sure whatever promotional item you choose has your company logo in addition to your website or contact information. If possible include your company tagline, if you have one, and make sure the colors of your promotional fit with your brand.

Consider your audience: Promotional items should appeal to your target audiences and be useful. Tee shirts might be very appropriate for a youth oriented market. Homeowners attending a home and garden expo might appreciate a small flashlight or pocket tool kit.

Set a budget: With so many choices among promotional items, it’s easy to overspend. As you are considering options, revisit your goals and what you hope to achieve as a return on your investment. Also think about other costs. If you plan to mail items, factor in shipping and packaging.

Finding the right promotional items won’t be difficult since there are many distributors online with hundreds of offerings. Just be sure to get the most of your marketing dollars.

Have you used promotional items in your marketing and sales efforts? What kind of results did you get?