Consider the impression you want to leave with a client

I was attending a Promotional Tradeshow Literature and was given the below to consider:
Imagine the impression you leave with a client who spends $50,000 a year with you by handing them a bulk purchased $1.50 pen to thank them for their business. Insulted? With good cause.
Consider handing a Director of a large corporate company who earns in excess of $250,000 a year a $2 branded keyring. Impressed? I think not.

Consider giving a $3.50 mug to one of the Executive Officers in a large Corporate who also deals with your competitors. Does your mug set your agency apart and reinforces what sets you apart from your competitors or does it just sit on the shelf in the office collecting dust with a line of other mugs? You would be lucky to reach the shelf but in reality, your mug will only be taken home and the children will use it as a paint brush holder instead.
If you think these examples are a little far-fetched, think again. These are actual examples of "gifts" given to clients by an Australian recruitment agency.

When to use promotional items
Even though this may lead you to believe that promotional items are a waste of money, it could not be further from the truth. When handled appropriately, however, they may change into a very effective part of your marketing campaign. On the other hand, if no thought is put into the reasoning of the purchase and it is not linked to delivering the appropriate message, promotional items may not be effective at all.

Here are some ways you can use your promotional items to good effect: (1)

1. Client acknowledgment: Remind your customer that your relationship with them is valued and important.

2. Employee recognition: Express your appreciation for employees or provide as an incentive for employees to work harder.

3. Competitive advantage: Provide tangible reinforcement of how/why your company is unique.

4. New product announcements: Create interest and excitement for a new product or service.

5. Special events: Act as a permanent reminder to your customer of you and your event.

6. Trade show support: Be remembered long after the show.

7. Product development: Help generate immediate recognition and brand awareness.

8. New market focus: Build an everlasting impression and create interest.

9. Image development: Emphasise themes of value, service, commitment, quality and performance.

10. Increase visibility: Your company name on an everyday staple affords visibility and serves to remind clients of your product/service.

11. Drive website traffic: Offer a visible reminder of how to find you online.

12. Encourage referrals: Offer as an incentive to encourage clients to refer your company to potential prospects.

13. Supplement direct mail: Encourage greater response to direct mail offers by including a promotional product as part of the offer. (Mouse mat or a cute bookmarker are a convenient ways to promote your business)

How to ensure success:
The choice of what promotional item to use can be challenging. Marketing & eBusiness magazine suggest the approach should be as follows, "Examine factors such as the level of seniority of the intended recipients, their nationality, geographic location, time of year and how valuable a customer they are." We suggest you consider these factors as you work through the following seven-step process, developed to help ensure maximum ROI (Return On Investment) on your next promotional item purchase:

Seven-step process:
1. Define the specific objective you are trying to achieve by offering your promotional item.

2. Determine how you are going to distribute the item to your target audience.

3. Create a central theme that supports your image or position in the market.

4. Develop a message to support the theme.

5. Select a promotional product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or your theme.

6. Ensure you haven't picked an item based solely on uniqueness, price or perceived value.

7. Use a qualified and reputable promotional product supplier.

The key to all successful promotional campaigns is to use a promotional item that is unique, supports your image and uses a clever and succinct message that emphasises your point of difference.

So, what works?
Below are some examples of campaigns that, in our opinion, have used promotional products and messaging to good effect:

  • A bank targeting small business sent fish-related products with the message: "Are you tired of being treated like a small fish."
  • An advertising agency sent a miniature rubbish bin. Inside was a piece of screwed up paper that when opened out said: "Don't let your advertising go to waste."
  • A recruitment agency sent an exclusive pen and pocket knife box set with the message: "They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Yet we'd like to offer you one of each to cover all bases (at Agency ABC we're not known for taking chances.)"

The final word …
In our experience, promotional product suppliers vary in their areas of competitiveness; some offer great discounts on clothing, others on watches etc. Therefore, it's important to shop around for quality products at a good price. Of course, quality and price shouldn't be the only selection criteria; ensure the company you choose is committed to understanding your business so they can help you come up with relevant and creative promotional items that will set your business apart from competitors and reinforce your point of difference.