Promotional Item Strategies

Promotional items and corporate gifts can help you promote your business successfully in numerous situations. Regardless of what your promotional goal is, you can reach it with the right merchandise that is imprinted with your logo, from recognition programs, corporate and employee awards to promotional giveaways.

You need to start with an understanding of the range of promotional items that are available and what to look for when selecting a promotional item, plus how to use copy and artwork to maximize the impact of your promotions. You need to understand the basics of successful promotional item.

The number of promotional items that are given away range from ball point pens to motor scooters. In today’s competitive business climate, a very nice premium offer is basically the price of admission just to get a seat at the table.

Now 40 people showing up at a booth for a raffle might not seem like a big deal, but if you consider that a company may be competing for attention with destinations like Las Vegas, New York, and Chicago that number increases the significance. The ability to have that kind of an impact on an event is what makes premiums popular at all kinds of meetings, from training meetings and association conferences to trade shows. More than ever people are focusing on these gifts as part of their programs, and selecting the right product for an event is critical in order to generate the response you want to receive from a recipient. Incentive entertainment and travel budgets are still very tight. Many companies have scaled back on all types of business activities that involve travel which increases the role merchandise plays in creating a memorable experience.

Money is not the object. Actually, promotional items are the least expensive way to advertise. It costs less than a dollar a piece to get your organization’s logo imprinted on a promotional item.

While it is possible to plan a show that offers no promotional items, these items are one of the most cost effective ways to add value to the attendee’s overall experience because people look forward to receiving these items.

With the popularity of giveaways at trade shows increasing, so too has the challenge of finding gifts that are unique and memorable enough to be appreciated by the recipient and also be able to market your company effectively. Here are some things to consider when developing a merchandise strategy for a trade show or similar event.

Make a Plan
It's very important to have a strategy for gift giving when it comes to using promotional items. This is especially true when you are employing this practice at trade shows. There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to choosing a promotional item strategy: The invitation only approach, and; The open house theory.
The invitation only approach usually targets prospects before the show and notifies them that a premium with a higher perceived value will be available to those who visit the booth. Of course, to receive the item, more is expected of an attendee. The most common requirements include filling out a questionnaire or meeting with a salesperson. Your expense up front will be greater, however, by gaining more information about their needs and pre qualifying your leads, your Return On Investment (ROI) probably won’t differ much from the open house theory. Pre mail the attendees to make sure you get on their very full to do list if you're going to offer them nice premium.

Nearly all trade shows these days make attendee lists available to the exhibitors. The most appreciated and popular are unisex and utilitarian, packable and small. Better yet, offer to send them their premium after the show to save them the problems of carrying them home.

The open house style entails offering the attendees useful but inexpensive promotional items. They’re frequently displayed at the booth in a manner similar to the complimentary bowls of peanuts you’ll find in some bars. Although this will get your message too many more people, you don’t know how many of them are qualified leads.

The trade show floor is full of a variety of people with numerous agendas. While some people may have specific goals for attending the show, others do not. An exhibitor’s questioning and observation skills will be the key to determining who may be a viable sales prospect and therefore a worthy recipient of a gift.

There are always attendees who are ready, willing and able to drop a business card into a fishbowl for any kind of drawing. Any kind of giveaway also attracts these types of attendees. They may even want more than one for colleagues, friends, and family. That’s one reason why many promoters don’t believe in the practice of using giveaways or raffles to draw traffic to their booths. It doesn’t really show the proper respect to the attendees who are attending the show for serious business purposes. The practice really does fill your booth with people who are only there for the giveaway. Many promoters prefer to get a pre registration list and target the attendees who they really want to spend time with. A trade show giveaway is somewhat like buckshot from a shotgun. It’s too scattered and many prefer a marketing strategy that has the precision of a rifle.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t increase the accuracy of giveaways at a trade show. Contests that require more than just the keen questioning of a visitor and a business card when they enter a booth to ascertain if they have business potential will help deter these types from finding their way onto your follow up lists.

You should also urge exhibitors not to underestimate underlings sent by their organizations to do some specific research. They may turn out to be extremely strong influencers. They also may be able to provide the name of who in their organization you need to contact. The time you spend with them could be invaluable.

Know Your Audience
The demographics of your target audience are an extremely important factor that must be considered when choosing promotional items. It's important to know as much as you can about the client corporate gift or the recipient of a promotional gift. If you give one group an iPod they will be motivated by it, while another group will see it as something they can use to give as a gift to give to someone else. The influence over their behavior you were hoping to leverage is completely lost unless your product ends up in the hands of the person you intended. In some cases, the hot, sexy item of the moment would not perform as well as something mundane. It does not necessarily mean that the item has to be expensive to have lasting value. A flashlight at home that most of us use every time the power goes out still has the name of the company on it.

Another factor is size. You can give your attendees something big if they are within driving distance of your event because it's not going to be a problem to take the item home. However, if the majority of your attendees have flown in, then a more portable, smaller item is a better bet. A few high end golf balls, the latest high tech mouse pad, or good quality T shirt may fit the bill. It really doesn’t matter how great a promotional gift or item is if it gets left behind in the hotel room.