What is a Promotional Product?
You’ve heard them called swag, schwag, tchotchkes, chotskies, lagniappies, freebies, trinkets and trash, but those terms don’t do justice to promotional products. Promotional Products (herein referred to as PP) has been around since 1789 when George Washington used buttons to celebrate His Presidency. But wide spread use didn’t really happen until the 1950’s.
Definition – What is a promotional product?
Generally inexpensive items that are printed or in some way embellished with a company logo, tag line and/or contact information.
You have no doubt numerous items in your possession right now that is a PP. Some you may use every day without thinking of them as advertising. Keyfobs, Flyswatters, Frisbees, Ink Pens, Calendars, Bags of all types, sizes and materials, Letter Openers – ok, you know.
What you may not know is the importance of the use of PP in your business and how the proper use of them can increase sales.
Promotional Products are an advertising media that is used to pinpoint target an individual or individuals or companies that you want to do business with. They are considered a direct target approach in advertising in that you only give them to people who you deem to be a prospective customer. Unlike newsprint, television or radio advertising, which is a shotgun approach, the use of a PP is given individually to a particular individual. This is micro targeting that individual and encouraging them to do business with you and your company.
Have you been to a trade show?
Most of you have been to a trade show or conference in which you were handed some sort of item that had printing on it, maybe a garment with embroidered logo, paper pad with conference title etc. These items are generally not too costly and provide a big impact to the receiver.
The object in selecting a PP is to speak to your target audience (recipient) and have it tie in with your company or current promotional theme. This in part can be accomplished through the use of a tagline. A tagline is the short phrase under your company logo. Example would be “Acme Plumbing” “we do what others can’t”, or a whole host of taglines that help tie a PP with a theme.
What is the Method of Distribution of a Promotional Product and why is that important in the selection process?
Because of the very targeted market (recipient), more often than not, you will be handing these out face-to-face. You can do this at most any time, either on first appointment (you never get a second chance to make a first impression). A follow up meeting or mail it to them before or after a meeting.
A successful sales method is to make an appointment with a prospect, send them a PP with a note that says they are excited to be working with them (presumptuous close) and then have something else to gift them with when you finally do meet. Obviously, there is no one way to do this, so don’t get all locked up in process. Oh, and don’t forget the gatekeeper! Yes, the administrative secretary and/or other staffers in that company. Depending on what you are wanting to accomplish and the value that landing that company as a client is to you, the more you should look at spending on PP per. So if a prospective company is worth $50k annually, you can put a bit into your efforts. If all you expect to gain on a new customer in your business is $200 a year, then you may want to keep those costs down.
What is your CAC (Cost of Acquisition)
Think of it as another part of your cost of acquisition. This is called Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) (don’t you just love acronyms?). There are formulas on-line you can use if need to, but generally this is considered more intensely where on-line acquisition is being formulated.
For PP, just use common sense. You can’t give away your bank account to capture the attention of a prospect. So again, depending on the value of doing business with a prospective company is to you, will dictate the amount you spend on advertising, and that is advertising of all sorts, which includes promotional products.
Things Change, so do products that are in tune!
We used to sell boxes and boxes of matches. We sold these mainly to night clubs and drinking establishments. In fact, my first sale in the business (transitioning from signage to PP) was matchbooks. When smoking habits changed and laws were enacted, match consumption went down, way down. While still an inexpensive form of advertising (2,500 books of matches are around $200), the popularity of matches is way down. It used to be that every junk drawer in America had a few match books. Today, if you want to light a candle, you may use a “candle lighter”. Why? Because you don’t have a match! Ohhhh, maybe, just maybe we should put our name on some of these…
Same with ash trays. I had a client who ordered ash trays regularly. I remember him saying to me “ yah, they steal them, but I want them to”. So now his company name/logo is on their coffee table and they see it all the time and guess what that does? If gets them thinking about his business and they go spend money at his business. And they probably will keep doing that as long as they are getting a good experience at his business. Talk about ROI!
Are Ink Pens a good promotional product?
Probably the most recognized PP is the ink pen. You have lots of them, some with logos, some not. Everyone writes something to someone most everyday. Make a note, sign a check etc. Ok, some of you techies don’t use a pen everyday. You are the ones who ask the person next to you – hey, got a pen? Cost of an ink pen can vary like the cost of a car. They range from maybe .12 cents each to over $8,000 each. I haven’t sold any for $8k, but I have provided very nice pens to clients well above $100 each. They needed to either say thank you or make an impression.
There is an inexact science to what type of pen to hand out and how much you should spend on each. We can help you determine what the cost range should be for what you want to say and who you want to say it to. We are manufacturer representatives of all the pen manufacturers in USA, like Bic, Logomark, Parker, Sheaffer, Monte Blanc etc. and also represent many imported lines.
Will Using Note Pads help my business?
Just like an ink pens are necessary and a staple in everyday life, so is paper. I know, I know, we are moving to a paperless society. Yep, I tried that many years ago. Even made a sign and hung it on our office wall. “NO PAPER”. Funniest part about that is the sign was printed on – paper! So this “paperless movement” started a decade or two ago and guess what, still using paper.
The great thing about paper note pads is that once used, many of the sheets have hand written notes and end up in folders and file cabinets and even decades later will be seen and your logo will still be visible and that advertising will still be working for you! Depending on size, colors and quantity, costs vary but you can safely bet on paying around a penny a sheet. Think of it, a penny for 20 years of exposure! A tip for note pads is don’t get them too small and don’t have your copy (your business info) take up too much space on the sheets. Nobody wants a not pad that has a third of it’s space already taken. Your copy doesn’t need to be big to be seen by the subconscience.
Promotional Products create good will as it provides advertising value for your company. There are literally thousands of different PP available and in most every price range.
What types of promotional products should I avoid?
You have to keep in mind the method of distribution and the point of contact. For example, you are exhibiting at a trade show in Las Vegas. People are coming in from all over the Country. Some are driving, but most are coming in on airplanes. Which means they have luggage and limited space for extra stuff. Do you think it is a good idea to hand out 22 oz tumblers? I have been at trade shows where company reps would offer a show attendant on of these big round space takers and they say, no thankyou, I flew in. Now if the trade show is local to you and most attendants are local, then yes, that could make sense. But there may be better products for you to hand out. If that trade show is large, they still need to carry that item around with them all day, and that could become taxing. Fit the product with your message, tie it in with your slogan or tagline and make sure it all connects together for greater impact. It is a good practice to use an experienced Promotional Products Distributor who has an extensive knowledge base of products and can bring ideas to the table. Poor practice is to just use an on-line discount webstore and spend your money blindly. if you are able to connect on a telephone, most of these people are order takers only. They are not advertising consultants who can steer you to a better product. Yes, you more than likely will save money, but you may be buying the wrong product that yields poor results, which if you look at it, actually becomes way more expensive because of the low impact you receive from the wrong product being purchased (at a discount)!
Your Logo is Stored Subconsciously!
After the first few times of use, your logo on most PP go into a subconscious mode. That is, the recipient doesn’t really look at your name on the item. But nevertheless, your company name/logo/message/tagline will enter into the subconscious of that person every time they pick it up or see it. They do not need to “read” the copy for the copy to enter in their head. When they need a service that you provide, they aren’t likely to go shopping in the yellow pages (internet). Generally, it won’t take them 5 seconds to know who to call. That is the power of promotional products.
What is the Lifespan of a promotional product?
Studies show that the average life of a promotional product is 13 months. I know that holds true for calendars, but I submit a much longer life for most. (Remember the note pads mentioned above?).
So for ROI (Return of Investment) you can take the total cost of an item and divide it by the number of exposures to get the actual CPI (Cost per Impression). We can only guess at how many times someone will see or use a particular item per day or month or year, but generally for inexpensive items, it equals a very small percent of a penny per cpi. So again, choosing the right product is so critical not only for performance, but for longevity and cpi.
Promotional Products can’t do it all!
You can’t rely on only one form of advertising to promote your business. If that were so, we would all just get business cards printed and be done. But we all know that would be silly. Just like you don’t just print a flyer or just go to a trade show or even just build a web site. Consider promotional products as another marketing effort or a spoke in a wheel. It takes a lot of spokes to go from the hub (your company) to hold up the outside wheel. The more spokes, the stronger, more reliable it becomes. If your business hits a big bump, it may dent the outside wheel but it won’t break because of all the other spokes working together to hold it up.
What type of Business Can Benefit from the use of promotional products? – What should I choose to give away?
Gee, there may be some business that can’t find value in giving a gift, but I just can’t think of one. What type of item you should use and the cost per each is unique to every business and no one item is going to fit all needs. You can search the web for ideas, or you could call in a professional to help you make the decisions. A professional Promotional Products Consultant will have products and ideas that no online web store can provide. It is a function of product x goal x audience x method of distribution x tagline x budget x … You won’t get that by surfing the web.
What is the difference between a Promotional Product and a Premium?
In general, a PP is an item that incorporates a company logo and/or other self promoting copy. A premium product, like a cd player or small electronic devices generally do not have any copy printed on them. An example of this would be offering different levels of products for different levels of purchases. i.e. purchase $1000 worth of our products and you qualify for this level of “gifts” or premiums. On that level maybe your list includes a battery backup for mobil phones, a radar detector and 3 other items. If you purchase $5000 of product then you qualify for lever 2 in which you can choose from this color television, a Roku and these 3 other items at this level. If you purchase $10000 then you qualify for …
These items are generally more expensive then what you would typically pay for a promotional product.
Don’t Put your logo on a $100 ink pen!
If you are giving decision makers or other important people in your target audience a nice item, an expensive ink pen or something of significant value, more than likely it would be diminishing the value of that item if you have your logo on it. You wouldn’t want to give a Mont Blonc with your company logo on it. But you may want to give it to the recipient with their name on it.
Presentation is Everything!
Packaging is hugely overlooked and many think of it as wasteful as it will surely be thrown away. But packaging is part of the presentation. And we all know that presentation is very important. Recently, someone sent us a small box with 2 wooden bookmarks. They are beautiful. I probably won’t ever use them, because we happen to manufacture our own bookmarks of fine quality leather. (Couldn’t resist the self-promo). The bookmarks are very nicely engraved and are of very good quality. But what made them even neater is the packaging they came in. They came in a slide out 2 part box that was formed and flocked and had elastic bands to hold the bookmarks in place. The inner box had a small pull tab and when you opened it up, there was a sheet of rice paper with printing about the origin of the bookmarks. Talk about packaging, talk about the wow factor. I may never use those bookmarks, but the whole package will be displayed on our shelf. Don’t overlook packaging in your presentation.
Why use TrendStrategics for my advertising?
We have been providing Promotional Products to companies nationwide for over 30 years.
3 websites dedicated to promotional products!
If you can’t find what you want on one of those sites, give us a call and we will find it or make it!
Tim Zurawski is a Certified Advertising Consultant and has a Master Degree in Promotional Advertising, issued by Promotional Products Association International. We would be pleased to help you select products for that integral part of your advertising efforts and campaigns.
Give us a call, we’ll help you through it!