Comparing Promotional Products To Other Media

The fact is, each business owner and marketer have very difficult choices to make when deciding how to market their business. No one I know, or have ever worked with, has unlimited budgets and resources. So you have to be smart and do your best to get the most “bang” for your advertising buck! We all do!

So let’s discuss the best use of YOUR advertising dollars.

How? I want to do this by comparing Promotional Products to other forms of advertising.   But before I do, I want to point out my intentions.

It is NOT my intention to take shots at other forms of media. There is a time and a place for all of these advertising forms.  But it is imperative that you understand that Promotional Products should be in your mix.

There are lots of different forms of advertising in the world today. Some of these include TV ads, Print Ads, Radio Ads, Online Ads and many more. One of the common themes with all of these is they are Interruption based ad models. In other words, the advertiser is consuming some form of media and the advertiser needs to interrupt that consumption so they can promote their organization, company or product.

This is the model that has been used for hundreds of years. Philosophically, I think Promotional products are different. With the use of Promo, you are providing value on the front end (with lasting impact) in order to gain customers long term. You probably already know this.  You might be asking,  “What is new?”

What is new is how the customer views advertising. The customer agrees with me. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s compare the media (much of this is based on a 2009 study released by PPAI).

So first let’s establish how marketing and advertising effectiveness is measured.

I have talked before about the “3 R’s” of a successful business. I told you that every business wants “Repeats, Retention and Referrals.” These “3 R’s” are sure to create a long term successful business. It turns out that the best way to measure advertising effectiveness also includes 3 R’s.

These 3 R’s are Reach, Recall and Reaction!

Reach, Recall and Reaction

These 3 R’s of advertising are very important to consider. But in my humble opinion, not all R’s are created equal!


How many people do you reach? Obviously this is important…right? Sure it is. You want to reach as many people as you can for the amount of money you spend. The problem with this “R” is that it can be manipulated. Some advertising sales people will point out that 100,000 have access to this channel, or read this paper, or drive by this sign every day!

Wow! Impressive number!

But just because they could listen to the channel, drive by the sign or watch the show doesn’t mean they do! And even if they do…did they actually see it? Okay…let’s say they did see it. Great! But what you really want is…


How many of those people actually recall you and your message? Isn’t that one of the real goals of advertising? You want people to remember the ad! Studies show that at any given time about 3% of the population is actually in the market for your particular good or service. That’s a small

percentage! So when they have decided that they need your help, you want to make damn sure these folks remember you!

But the real holy grail of business success lies in…


How many react (in a positive way) to the message. You want to reach them, yes. You want them to remember you, sure. But at the end of the day you want them to pick up the phone and call! You want them to go to their phone and email. You want them to go the website and buy! You (and your business) want a positive reaction!

It’s the 3 R’s of advertising. Let’s see how this study says each advertising media fares. Here is an honest evaluation.

Reach: Let’s face it. Reach is the “R” that promotional products are at the disadvantage. When you, as a business owner, invest in a TV spot, you are going to reach more people than with one promotional product. No doubt about it. Reach is a numbers game. Nearly all “mass” media is going to win the reach game.

The problem is, many business marketers stop measuring (or thinking) after they hear the reach numbers. That’s an issue. Because let’s face it, not all of those people are prospects. Not even a little bit. You are likely reaching lots of people that are not really prospects at all. And more importantly the study shows that not everyone is listening!

Recall: Not to be crass, but really who gives a crap about how many people you have reached if no one remembers! So now let’s dig into the numbers about how the advertising media fare when it comes to recall.

TV Ad Snapshot: 6 out of 10 respondents remembered the company/brand being promoted in the ad.

Print Ad Snapshot: 55% of the respondents remembered the company/brand being promoted in the ad.

Online Ad Snapshot: 31.3% of respondents remembered the company/brand advertised in the ad.

Promotional Product: 82.6% of participants remembered the company/brand advertised with promotional product.

Okay…so in this study we can honestly say that the actual “recall” of the ad is better for the promotional products campaign. Great! Recall IS important. But as I mentioned earlier, the magic is in making people act.

And Reaction is where the real magic happens.

Reaction: You have spent advertising dollars. You want the phone to ring, the mouse to click, and the opportunities to open. What creates the most impact? Let’s look at this same 2009 study. This is simply based on what happens after…

TV Ad Snapshot: 3.1% of respondents said they reached out to the company after seeing the ad. 7.1% said they purchased from the advertiser after seeing the advertisement.

Print Ad Snapshot: 4.5% of respondents said they reached out to the company after seeing the ad. 13.4% said they purchased from the advertiser after seeing the advertisement.

Online Ad Snapshot: 4.8% of respondents said they reached out to the company after seeing the ad. 4.6% said they purchased from the advertiser after seeing the advertisement.

Promotional Product: 14.7% of respondents said they reached out to the company after seeing the ad. 20.9% said they purchased from the advertiser after seeing the advertisement.

Let’s take this all as a snapshot.

What does this mean to you? Well if I were you, I would want potential customers to remember my ad, and react to it. I am a numbers guy so I am going to point something out you. The number of respondents that said they picked up the phone and reached out the advertisers was 3 TIMES HIGHER with promotional products than with these other forms of advertising! That is a HUGE number people!

So as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is not an indictment of other media. But in so many areas of the business marketing world, promotional products are dismissed as a “throw away.” This kind of thinking is harmful to YOUR business! You need to understand that if you hope to be truly successful in the world of business, you better know your numbers!

And if you are using promotional products to promote your business (wisely), your numbers can be pointing UP!

Want to learn more about Promotional Products and how we can help?  Click here.  

Oh…and this is an excerpt from my book Delivering Marketing Joy.  If you want to create better branded merchandise campaigns, head to Amazon and grab this book for yourself and your team.

Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.