Chapter 5: All about Promotional Products
Regardless of how good or well priced your product is and despite of your target market, the key to a successful business is always that of promotion a fact which was also highly recognized by E. Jerome McCarthy.
Research in to the phenomenon of promotional items using businesses that did not use promotional items as opposed to those who did has positively concluded that promotional products not only increase your sales but also attract to your business repeat purchases. Moreover, providing your customers with promotional products creates in them a positive connotation to your business. A PPAI study showed that companies who rewarded their customers with promotional products provided a better review by thirty four percent to more to these businesses than businesses that failed to use promotional products. Another reason why promotional products are the highlight of your marketing campaign involves the fact that these will add to the impact of your advertising campaign itself as you are providing your ad viewers a desirable incentive when using your products or services.
As a business owner you can better understand the concept of promotion by taking a look at some of its examples. Among these examples you can find media coverage both printed and in broadcast form and other forms of public relations marketing, word of mouth, advertising and any other tool that serves to make your product known to people. More specifically, promotional items would take the form of trade shows, awards for employee service and internal promotions including employee events, gifts, business gifts, new customer recognition and customer referral incentives and fresh off the market products offers. If you are at a loss and don’t know where to start from you can take your pick among the ten most effective promotional products which include: Calendars, tote bags, T-Shirts, Mouse pads, pens, caps and hats, mugs and cups, pens, jackets, golf and polo shirts, key tags and rings.
Advertising your business through promotional products
Once you have determined your marketing plan and strategy, You need to add incentives such as promotional products and offers to attract customers and make the most of your marketing plan. This clients’ attraction technique is especially important to increase your clients’ database. Apart from giving something in return for their custom, you should make the most of your promotional products by imprinting your logo, details or business name to the products you are giving your customers for free. Thus, you are to come up with promotional products that while showing the appreciation of your customers by for example adding a personal touch as ‘thank you for your custom’ you can add ‘from X (Name of business). You are not only thanking your customers and providing them with a momentum of purchase from your business but you are also marketing your business for free since the name of your business will be marketed for free by the use your customers make of your promotional products. This is how word of mouth usually works and this is why it is considered to be the best for of advertisement your business can have.
To encourage word of mouth you can make use of referral strategies whereby your clients get something in return for telling others about your business. Disclosing what items or rewards you are willing to reward your customers with will further encourage them to promote your business.
Since only your imagination is your limit you can choose whatever items you see fitting as your promotional items. Imagine mugs, kitchen utensils, desktop items such as pens, mouse pads and note books or diaries all the way to attaché cases, hats, flags glass coasters and more items can be displaying the name of your business while the promotional product is serving a purpose for your customers. An imprinted image or logo is most likely to stick in your customers’ mind the more they are exposed to it. Marketing experts maintain that promotional items help your customers come back more than once and are likely to spend more than a business that does not make use of promotional items.
Promotional items also serve as ice breaker to introduce a new scheme to your clients. They, in fact facilitate the communication between you and a client who has already taken home a gift. Through promotional products you will also get to know what your customers look for depending on the promotional item they have chosen to take.
Most importantly, apart from leading to an increase in sales, promotional items also give your customers the idea of value because they have taken something else with them over and above the product or service they have already paid for.
Additionally, promotional products compliment other marketing techniques and advertisements that you have decided to invest in, thereby making your marketing plan more solid.
Promotional Products and your Target Market
It is highly suggested that when selecting your promotional product you should take into consideration the target market as specified in your marketing plan. For example, if your target market is the female audience then the promotional product should reflect something that females would like. Jewelry, clothing, business related items such as a keyboard shield or business card holders. Barbecues, watches, binoculars and tool kits are good examples of promotional items if your target market is the male audience.
Since your target market could also involve parents or new parents, children, teenagers, students, professionals, athletes, adventurous or bed ridden people, the low or high income earners or old people of society, you will need to think of items that could be useful for your specific target market.
A way to successfully select promotional products that are useful to your audience you need to decipher what interests your potential clients hold at heart. Understanding your target market’s interests would therefore require some market research on your part and this includes the statistics that deal with what your target market purchases. When you take this research seriously you will uncover several common trends applicable to your target market. Consequently, bath products, diaper or baby item carriers as well as bibs, photo albums or frames could suit parents. Opt for toys such as Frisbees, balls, dolls, cars, bath toys, blocks, colors and coloring books or soft toys in the case your business is targeted at children. Cameras, CD racks, beach chairs, sunglasses, computer, car or desk accessories, cameras, calculators, stress relief books, fashion accessories and satchels are good promotional items when it comes to teenagers and students. Use clothing for any type of target market that you are dealing with and be creative; so do include the different seasons: Sweat shirts for autumn, bandanas, t-shirts and beach wear for summer, gloves for winter and sportswear such as caps are good examples of promotional items you can use. You will have to upgrade your promotional items of you are dealing with professional people. You can never go wrong with computer, car or desk supplies, calendars or planners, jewelry or watches, travel bags or stress relievers.
The above were a few examples of promotional items that you can use depending on the target market that you want to deal with in your business. Camping, sports or fishing equipment, flashlights, pens, utility tools and pen knives, water bottles, spa gifts or sponsoring some event tickets are more examples of promotional items you can use to market your services or products. The list is endless and your imagination and budget are key elements in deciding what promotional items you want to go for. Whatever promotional item you go for, your decision should always ask the question of whether that particular target market would want or whether it needs your promotional product. People advanced in age would not be inspired to purchase your products or hire your services simply for the free video game voucher or a diaper bag gift as they are not as conversant with information technology and computer software as the younger generation is. This is why paying special attention to the needs, wants and behavior of your selected target market is of utmost importance before making an investment in promotional products. You don’t want to throw away your money; you want to invest it so that your business is more profitable at the time of promotion.
The Scope behind Promotional Products
Basically, promotional products have one scope behind them: To help your business grow by bringing more awareness about the products or services that you have to offer. When it comes to promotional products you will need to make use of a product which will serve to promote your business, hence the derivation of the term promotional products. The good news is that you can pick any item, not being the product of your business, and turn it into a promotional product by imprinting your logo and other contact information on it or else by making use of a specific design that best serves to describe your business.
Because the main objective behind promotional products is to spread the name of your business and making it easily recognizable by people, it is of utmost importance that you include all your contact information on the item or items that you intend on using for your business promotion. This is mainly due to the fact that the underlying goal is to generate more sales as well as to provide a reminder to your existent clientele that you appreciate their custom and therefore instill in them a sense of loyalty towards your services or products.
Interestingly, promotional items also help you strengthen your employer relationship with your employees. Nothing can generate better work satisfaction than making your employees feel appreciated by providing them with a gift token for the services rendered to your business. On an even more positive note, if the promotional item chosen is of use to your customers and employees, your business’ name is bound to be seen by more people than you have cared to provide a gift to. This is why promotional products out do traditional marketing campaigns as they are bound to reach more people and generate more positive results than the average marketing campaign would.
Various research has substantiated the believe that the use by a business of promotional products when compared to a business that does not offer any similar incentive to its clients will increase the customers’ response rate to your business by eighteen percent1 . To demonstrate the boost promotional products will give to your business, imagine both your clients and employees taking the gift item at home. Their family members, friends and partners are more likely to become familiar with your products or services. Now imagine passing to your customers or employees a sun/screen shield for their car, a key chain or a mobile cover. When travelling from one place to another, your clients or employees would be running a free of charge marketing campaign for you while making people more aware of your business and what you do.
Back in 1998 ninety five percent (95%) of businesses interviewed were already making use of promotional products2 ; but the popularity of promotional products does not stop there: Over eighteen billion dollars were spent in 2005 just on marketing through promotional products. These statistics do nothing more than show that this marketing tool really works otherwise there would be no sense in spending so much in this area of marketing not to mention the establishment itself of the Promotional products Association International ( PPAI). Moreover, an impressive seventy three percent out of the people who have received a promotional products claim to make use of your gifted item weekly while fifty percent of the respondents may find your promotional product useful daily.
And how long do your clients or potential customers keep your promotional item for? PPAI says that 22% keep promotional products for a month whereas fifty five percent of them keep it for longer than twelve months. Can you begin to think about the number of times, the holders of promotional items will view your business name and information? Yes, promotional products are priceless in your marketing campaign. The catch for promotional products to reap the desired rewards is that you select items that can be used and that are of a durable quality; after all, the longer your promotional item lasts the more free advertisement you are getting.
Promotional items work so well that it is quite possible that other businesses competing with yours are using promotional products to enhance their employees and customers’ satisfaction experience. The items used for promotion by your competitors are something that you should closely examine. If your competitors are offering a mug or kitchen utensil when a certain amount of cash is spent on their products or services, you will need to go the extra mile to attract customers. If you offer the same package deal as your competitors, people will not bother to differentiate between your business and that of your competitors. Thus, you have to offer something more which gets customers to think about the added value of using your business as opposed to your competitors. Thus, instead of a mug offer a set of mugs or a tea set and instead of one kitchen utensil that can be cheap to purchase use desirable kitchen utensils or opt for a more valuable utensil or increase the quantity when running your sales promotion. This will make all the difference for customers to pick your business over that of your competitors. So give your customers a diary instead of a calendar, an electronic diary instead of a diary, a barbecue with utensils instead of a barbecue, a strong material ball instead of an inflatable one and a book instead of a magazine. You can also opt to give customers something that has nothing to do with what your competitors are offering and this would include an endless list of combinations. Let’s say your competitors are either offering a mug, a video game or a calendar for the purchase over $50 you can therefore offer them a sports jacket, custom-made limited edition cards or a barbeque for the purchase amounting to the same value of goods. The trick up the sleeve is offering something that is different or better than your competitors.
Coupons work less to generate your sales than promotional products the latter making customers spend by twenty seven percent more and an average of 140% more than those who merely received written information. Choosing the right promotional products for your sales promotion makes all the difference and your clients are likely to view your business as 52% better than the 16%3 positive feedback given in favor of other companies who simply provided promotional products without all the psychological effort to give their customers a promotional product that is right. Of course, whether your promotional product is more desirable than other promotional products still makes a huge return to your sales and your business approach and relationship with your customers is viewed from 16% to 52%4 higher than those businesses which fail to reward their clients with promotional products.
To start or in order to keep abreast of the latest promotional products’ statistics and techniques you could also look for similar associations or groups in your vicinity and become a member since the pooling of information is an investment in itself.
Weigh Your Expenditure against Your Benefits
A rule of thumb when selecting promotional products is not to get carried away. You will need to look in to the costs of the promotional items and this should include the cost of delivery of the said promotional items. The idea behind promotional items is not to spend $25 and get $10 in return. On the contrary, promotional products should not only cover the initial cost to order them but they should return a high income reward for you. So before undertaking this part of your marketing campaign you need to sit down and estimate the average benefits that will come to your business as a result of using promotional products. If you want you can also ask for the opinion of your financial advisor.
One thing that you have to keep in mind is your objective –yes, the reason why you are undertaking this sales promotion should be kept at the forefront of your mind when weighing the cost against the advantages, especially at this stage. This is because it is one thing if your main objective is to get new clients to your business and another thing all together if your principle incentive is to increase your sales by a certain percentage. Let’s say a new customer purchases a $5 product from you and makes use of the sales promotional offer you have running at the moment. Your promotional item costs you $8. Even though this does not seem to be a worthy venture when weighing your costs as opposed to the returns of this promotion you need to ask yourself about the objective which led you to undertake this sales promotion in the first place. If you wanted to attract a new customer, then the objective has been reached. If you wanted to attract a new customer and increase your sales, then your objective has not entirely been met as you have just gotten yourself a new customer but it costs you $3 in return. You can either ensure that your sales promotion covers purchases of a certain value or you can appreciate that a new customer has made his way to your business. It has costs you $3 this time but if your new customer returns than you have made a good investment as a returning customer is worth the promotional value invested in him.
Whatever your objective is, before launching your sales promotion you will need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of your promotion. This could also be a stage whereby you amend your initial objectives by refining them depending on how you verify what you can achieve through this sales promotion. Take some time to compare and contrast the sales before you launched your promotional products incentive. The only reasonable conclusion that you can draw from this exercise is that promotional products not only attract new customers but they motivate them to become regular ones. Hence, the investment made in promotional product will ultimately prove to you that this marketing scheme was worth your while.
If you want your marketing campaign to be successful you will need to ensure a solid relationship between your promotional strategy and the objectives laid down both in the initial marketing plan and also in each individual sales promotion. In fact you need to ascertain that these key points of your marketing plan coexist peacefully together in a way that they work hand in hand without conflicting with each other. To this peaceful balance you should also keep in mind all that you have learnt about promotional products. The promotional products should complement your products or services in such a way that they create a complete picture in the mind of customers or prospects and this picture should mainly send across to them the message of added value shopping. For instance, if you deal with house cleansing products giving a bucket for free with every two floor liquid products purchased will help your customers view the usefulness of the promotional incentive that you have created for them. You could also do it the other way round especially if you are promoting the sales of buckets rather than floor detergents. .