The Effectiveness of Promotional Items

Promotional products are items that display a company name, logo, and/or contact information. These items are distributed to prospective and existing customers and are staples for most companies doing business today in the United States.

Unlike traditional business marketing materials, such as a brochure or print advertisement, promotional products are designed with the idea that the customer will retain the item putting the product to good use, while being continually reminded of the business whose branding adorns the product.

Businesses of all types and sizes are finding through trial and success with promotional products, that growth can be directly attributed to the use of such products in combination with creative advertising.

Research has continually shown that promotional products can generate significant consumer traffic to a business establishment, with as many as 89 percent of respondents in one recent survey conducted, who were able to recall specific names of companies imprinted on the promotional items.

There are several marketing advantages to creating and giving away promotional items, which include increased response rates and an improvement in business returns.

While results for every company will vary compared to other conventional and costly advertising and marketing methods, promotional products are easy to obtain, affordable, and have an increased market reach and staying power.

In late 2009, the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) designed a two-part study intended to evaluate a cross-section of the American consumer population about television, print, online and promotional products.

The study, fielded through independent research company MarketTools, Inc., surveyed more than 1,000 respondents who recalled receiving a promotional product in the past 24 months.

The first part of the study focused on promotional products and evaluated the action, reaction, and relationship of products and their recipients.

The study concluded the following about the survey respondents:

  •     94 percent could successfully recall a promotional product they had received in the past two years
  •     89 percent could recall the advertiser of the promotional product.
  •     83 percent reported that they liked receiving promotional products
  •     48 percent would like to receive promotional products more often
  •     69 percent typically keep the promotional product

The second part of the PPAI study focused on comparing promotional products to mainstream media (television, print and online advertising) and evaluating their reach, consumer recall, and reaction to each.

The findings of the second part of the study include the following:

  •     Promotional products were the only media that showed staggering results in recall and reaction.
  •     Compared to TV, print and online advertising, promotional products delivered higher recall rates of the company/brand, and/or the product/service.
  •     Consumers made a purchase after receiving a promotional product (20.9 percent) more often than after viewing a print ad (13.4 percent), TV commercial (7.1 percent), or online (4.6 percent).

Increasing Brand Awareness
In previous years, companies spent a considerable amount of time and money on promotional items that were merely effective enough to get their names out. (Simply print a logo on a product without any thought.) This year, the trend has changed in that a majority of companies are now spending their money on promotional products that both align with their company’s creative direction and marketing goals and focus on increasing brand awareness. By doing this, a company can justify spending a significant amount on promotional items because of the high rate of success attributed with promotional products used to create and increase brand awareness.

Without thinking the promotional product purchase for a specific business through, that business runs the risk of not having the promotional item work to the company’s utmost advantage. Many companies will randomly choose products and put their brand on them, but it takes more than that to increase brand awareness with promotional products.

In order to achieve success for a business, a promotional product should be:

  1.     A product that customers/clients will find great use for – something that they will discard away upon receipt. Aligning the product with the customer’s needs is highly important.
  2.     Suitably aligned to the company’s products and services.
  3.     Constructed/developed in a way that best highlights the company brand.
  4.     Positively reflective of the company’s image/brand in terms of quality – if a company wants its clients to associate its brand with quality products, do not choose a cheap, low-end promotional product to brand to customers.

Tradeshow Giveaways
Today’s business climate is very competitive. When it comes to tradeshows – events held for thousands of suppliers to trade leads, products, and companies – there are several businesses that are all in the same industry lined up together, vying for the interest of each and every tradeshow visitor who walks through the door.

Many companies have quickly realized the importance of promotional giveaways to set themselves apart, and give people a reason to stop by. Because so many other companies are doing the same thing at these tradeshows with the promotional product giveaways, it is especially important for companies to pay close attention to what they are handing out at these events.

For companies, promotional product giveaways are a terrific platform to create brand recognition and recall, but only if proper methods are implemented. The giveaways should not only fit the company’s marketing plans, but they should also be distinctive, high quality, and memorable. If these three factors are overlooked, it is quite possible that a company will be simply giving away products very similar to competitors, posing no significance to customers.

If the promotional product giveaway at the tradeshow is efficient and aligning with the company’s branding and goals, it will help the company to acquire leads, increase sales and raise awareness.

It is important to remember that while people come to tradeshows to learn about businesses and network, they also come for all the free merchandise available.

Therefore, building a brand requires finding the perfect promotional giveaways to attract the most interest in a tradeshow setting.

Return on Investment
Return on investment (ROI) is a phrase used to describe the measurement of the effectiveness of advertising, and is an analysis of the profits compared to the cost of a financial investment.

When companies learn about the ROI of different forms of advertising, it can help them to make good choices on allocating marketing funds. Advertising is expensive, and it is detrimental to a business when money is spent on a campaign that does not bring in any new business.

The good news about promotional products is that it offers a better ROI than almost any other type of marketing, including television ads.

One way to calculate ROI is through the cost-per-impression, which refers to the typical amount of money that is spent for a campaign compared to the number of times a customer sees the advertisement. The average cost-per-impression for promotional items is often very, very low. On average, the costs-per-impression of popular promotional items are as follows*:

  •     Promotional baseball cap: $0.002
  •     Personalized calendar: $0.002
  •     Logo bags: $0.002
  •     $3 custom pens: $0.002
  •     Shirts: $0.005

In comparison to other forms of advertising, promotional products have the lowest cost-per-impression. Television ads generally have a much higher cost-per-impression, ranging from $0.007 to $0.019. Newspaper ads (black and white) and ads in national magazines are an average of $0.033 per impression.

Promotional products are highly cost effective because the same people see them repeatedly and new people are continuously coming into contact with the products. They are, for the most part, inexpensive and have proven time and again to bring in customers and increase profits for businesses.

According to the “Advertising Specialties Impressions Study: A Cost Analysis of Promotional Products Versus Other Advertising Media,” released in November 2008, 62 percent of people, on average, report that they have done business with a company after receiving a promotional product from them.

*Statistics based on “Advertising Specialties Impressions Study: A Cost Analysis of Promotional Products Versus Other Advertising Media,” a study released at the ASI Power Summit on November 10, 2008.

Growing a Business
People are more likely to remember a business if they have a more personal, gratifying experience with the business. If a company puts an ad on TV, it is likely that the viewer will remember the company’s name when they see the ad, but this all depends on the amount of television that he/she watches, as well as how often the commercial is played, among other factors. If a company spends that same money on promotional products, it is highly likely that people will remember the company every time they use the promotional products that were given.

Branding is crucial for all businesses. People see logos of large corporations like Target and Coca-Cola, and they immediately know what it is. Each company should strive for that kind of recognition, and promotional products are an affordable and effective method..

Provided that the company is customer-oriented and dedicated to service and success, the brand will build itself simply because people will trust that it is the best. They will keep coming back when they see and use the promotional products and remember that the company is there and ready to serve.

The bottom line is this: people cannot come to a business if they don’t know that it exists or what it does. Promotional products can tell them exactly that, as well as allow them to have a constant reminder of how the company can help them in their daily lives.

Promotional products are a highly cost effective way for companies in which to engage existing and potential customers.

With a successful track record backed by research studies that indicate an average of 89 percent of respondents could recall the company name of the promotional product they received, it is a surefire win for companies to spend money on the promotional products, and see a substantial return on that money.

However, there are strategies involved for companies on selecting the right kind of promotional product, and those include aligning the company’s creative marketing and branding with the selected promotional products.

By doing this, a company can justify spending a significant amount on promotional items because of the reaction it will generate from customers.

The above strategies are especially important at tradeshows, which are a great platform for companies to create brand recognition and recall. At tradeshows there are dozens of other companies vying for the same business. If a company does not stand out with their offerings, which includes selecting relevant, quality, memorable promotional products, the likelihood of customer retention from a tradeshow is very low.

Promotional products will continue to be one of the most effective, affordable, and creative ways for a company to both hold its ground in the competitive world we live in, as well as evolve as the world changes. As long as companies understand that there are strategies for choosing the right kind of promotional product in alignment with the company goals and branding initiatives, it is safe to assume that these companies will succeed in their endeavors to grow their business.