Uses and Guide to Promotional Items

Promotional items permit you to get your company’s message out on fine crystal, calendars, T shirts, and numerous other items that will make your next promotion the best ever.

Imprinting a message or a logo on a promotional item is one of the most lasting tactics that a marketer can use. Promotional items are so common that even the marketing professionals frequently take them for granted. However, if you use them carelessly, there can be a problem, since it not only wastes a lot of money but also because you’re overlooking ways to use them creatively in your marketing plan.

Promotional Item Uses
There are a numerous range of products that are commonly imprinted for promotional purposes. On the lower end of the spectrum are calendars, ballpoint pens, and T shirts. The items on the high end of the spectrum usually include such items as crystal bowls, cameras, and golf bags. If you can even think of an item, someone can probably put your logo on it. The various uses for imprinted promotional items are almost as varied. They’re used as awards, direct mail premiums, contest prizes, business gifts, sales incentives, dealer loaders, door openers, mail in premiums, and giveaways at trade shows and other events. A survey was once conducted of distributors that measured distributor sales by the type of program using the promotional items. Public relation items came in last at 8.5%, trade show items at 8.7%, employee event and relation items at 12.2%, and business gift items topped the list at 20%.

A study was conducted of two companies that had tried to determine the value of using imprinted products as gifts to stimulate referrals from current customers. In each case customers who received inexpensively priced gifts that bear the company's logo had higher referral rates than those that didn’t.

Another survey of people who got advertising specialties as gifts showed that 94% of recipients reported that they had positive attitudes about the company doing the advertising. Additionally, 83% reported that they used the advertiser’s products or services and some 87% were aware of the advertiser's message.

Issues that are Critical
In order to obtain those kinds of results by using promotional items, it will help to follow these guidelines:

  • Determine your overall goals: Promotional items can be used for nearly all types of motivation. You need to determine what kind of response you are looking for and at what point will the response justify the budget.
  • Determine the scope of the promotion and target your audience: For example, you can give away great items at a trade show, but you need to determine if you will be reaching the right prospects.
  • Devise your strategies carefully to help ensure that only your target audience gets involved with the promotion: This goal can sometimes be achieved through item selection. In other cases, the means of qualifying to receive the premium can do the trick.
  • Make sure the promotional items support your marketing plan: With consumer promotions, this normally means tying the promotional product to the self image and lifestyle the target audience.
  • Look for items that will last: There are numerous items that get thrown away as soon as they’re opened. You need to give away useful items that offer repeat opportunities to reinforce your message. This doesn’t mean the items need to be expensive, as evidenced by the success of calendars, pens, Post it notepads, and refrigerator magnets.
  • Choose an approach that is comprehensive: There have been numerous promotions that have been successful that involve several stages that build to a crescendo. You may be able to use an inexpensive premium in a mass promotion to get people involved and then follow up with other strategies and items.
  • Reinforcement of other promotions. One leading manufacturer of sporting goods gave away ties that were imprinted to qualified prospects. The prospects were invited to the company’s suite party and told that if they wore the ties they’d get a door prize and be entered to win a vacation trip. Not only was attendance high at the party, but also the ties helped build a sense of community among the prospects.
  • Ensure that you can deliver: There is nothing that causes more grief than playing up an imprinted item in an ad campaign only to find that the premium is delayed for whatever reason. Even worse, perhaps, is when the quality of an item is inconsistent or defective. This can irritate a lot of people. These types of problems can cost you a fortune in rush charges, while you try to make up for lost time.
  • Beware the pitfalls: A little planning can go a long way to help here. For example, buying from an overseas supplier can save a bundle, but you can bet there will be an increase in turnaround time. If you need something in a hurry, go for simple imprinting with an item that’s readily available.
  • Consider all the costs. Sometimes an inexpensive item can make for an expensive promotion. For instance, shipping and mailing costs can turn a one dollar calendar into a two dollar calendar. A watch may fit your budget until you factor in the price of batteries. Use common sense and checklists and get advice from your suppliers.

Fine Points
There are some excellent strategies for using promotional products in various handbooks. Here are a few of them.

  • Contingency fulfillment: A recipient receives only a part of the promotional item and must mail something in or show up in person to receive the rest.
  • Approval of peers: Top performers in a sales team are given calendars, trophies, or special mouse pads which raises their self esteem among their co workers.
  • Conferral of status: Premiums can be used to provide a special privilege or event.
  • Arousal of curiosity: A promotional item is sometimes used to pique the interest of the recipient. In one business to business mailing, executives were sent a small garbage can that was imprinted with, the phrase “Don't throw money away” and a number to call. When the recipient called the number, they reached a recycling company and were told how to save 25% on waste disposal.
  • Collector appeal: Certain imprinted items, including prepaid calling cards, have become collector’s items, thus increasing their value.
  • Influencing the influencers: If you have any doubt that this works, take notice of the millions of kids who bug their parents to go to the local service station so they can get toys which are knock offs of the cars in the company’s TV ads.

Imprinting Costs
It can be difficult to speculate about the costs of imprinted items, since they’re sold in batches. How elaborate the item is, the base price of the item, and the number of items imprinted all determines the cost of the item. Rush service is typically available on a 3 to 5 day basis for 20 to 25% extra. Else wise, you can pretty much count on a 3 week turnaround. There are some simpler jobs can be done within 24 hours. Computer aided technology has made manufacturing cheaper, faster, and simpler but you can still expect initial charges for any job.