Why Promotional Products Work

“Let’s get more customers! We want better customers! And let’s spend less money to do so!”

This is the battle cry of any business owner, marketer or sales person. Whether you are Vice President of Sales for a Fortune 100 company, or a small business owner in Middle America, the goal is still the same. You want to drive more customers into your funnel. Then once you have them there…you want to keep them!

And of course, if you are this VP of Sales or anyone else who is charged with marketing their company, you also understand that there are a LOT of ways to advertise and market your company (or product or service). Between radio, newspaper, magazines, television and the internet, each of these media is working to show you why their way is the best to reach your potential clients. And let’s face it…sometimes they might be right.

A mistake some business marketers make is to focus solely on these mass media advertising elements when marketing their company. Though they may utilize promotional products in some cases, these dollars are spent only after the “real” advertising is done. Though many savvy business marketers are really beginning to understand the power of the promotional product, many are still utilizing them like “trinkets and trash.”

If you consider this promotional tool this way, those are the kind of results you will get.

In today’s marketing mix, well utilized promotional product campaigns can bring powerful, measurable results. But why do these imprinted items bring positive results? And more importantly to you, how can you utilize them to create real results in your marketing plan? That’s what we hope to continue to show you on this blog!

First let’s talk about WHY promotional products work.

There are many reasons for the many different situations, but let’s focus on three simple reasons why they are effect.

  • Promotional Products are targeted!
  • Promotional Products are cost effective per impression!
  • Humans appreciate receiving valuable gifts!

Let’s elaborate just a bit.

Promotional Products are Targeted 

This is one of the oldest reasons to utilize Promotional Products…and still a viable one. Done correctly, you are giving your promotional product (whatever that product might be) directly to the customer or potential customer. You are reaching out into their office, kitchen, car or yard and greeting them with your “who, what, where” message! As one of my first teachers told me, you are taking your business card and putting it on their wall (or desk or pocket). Since you are reaching directly to the people you want reach, there is little or no waste.

That same teacher handed me a calendar and asked me, “What is the worst thing that can happen to this when you give it to a client?”

I looked over the calendar for a moment, turned and cavalierly threw it in the waste basket. I waited for him to be upset, but he simply laughed and said, “Exactly!”

Smiling at the confused look on my face he explained, “You looked at the calendar—the advertising message—considered it and then discarded it. That’s the worst thing that can happen. But consider this; that is the BEST thing that can happen to nearly all other kinds of advertising! If someone listens or sees an ad long enough to consider it, that ad has succeeded. But with our advertising that is your worst case scenario! Most likely that calendar will be hanged and give you valuable advertising space on the customer’s wall all year.”

Which leads nicely into…

Promotional Products are Cost Effective

When considering many advertising venues you will hear terms like range, frequency, circulation to showcase the overall power or effectiveness of the medium. And although those can be impressive statistics, they are not always totally accurate. Just because 100,000 people CAN listen to a radio station doesn’t mean they DO.

When measuring the effectiveness of a well-executed promotional product campaign, I like to consider the CPI or Cost Per Impression of an item. Measuring the CPI of an item gives you a stronger understanding about the power of an individual product. It also quantifies the value to you, the marketing professional, of that same product.

Let’s take a promotional watch for example.

A decent watch for a customer might cost you $20 (less or more but let’s go with this for this example; you can do the math for other price ranges). Initially $20 might sound like a lot to reach this customer. But consider that the average person looks at their watch about twice per hour, 10 hours per day. Let’s also assume they wear this watch for the better part of year, or 300 days. That customer has now looked at your branding message 20 times per day for 300 days…or 6000 times! Now if you divide that $20 watch by the 6000 times your branding message was in front of your customer you realize the CPI on this watch was $.0033 per impression! Not a bad investment for your marketing dollar!

Of course you can easily think through the math on any promotional item. You don’t need to know any fancy statistics; common sense will do the trick. That’s why some of the classic staples of the promotional products industry are products that have lasting power. The more long term usefulness a product has the more value it has to your brand!

Humans Appreciate Receiving Valuable Gifts

Though this sounds like sort of the “duh” moment, it’s deeper than that too. It is true that many people like to receive things that are free. Unfortunately sometimes that leads us to think of the lowest common denominator of mooch out there that only comes to trade shows for the free stuff. Those folks are out there…but that is not what I am talking about.

Studies show that giving your customers (or potential customers) a promotional “gift,” you actually create a sense of obligation in that person to do business with you. That’s right. It’s called the Rule of Reciprocity. Studies prove that by giving that $5 item, your customer will actually feel like they owe you or your company the opportunity to do business. You have provided them something of value. Interestingly enough, this Rule states that this effect increases over time. So the more often you present that prospect with a promotional “gift” the more likely they are to give you an order. They subconsciously feel like they owe you!

And though that might not “exactly” be the intention, it is a wonderful added benefit.

I make it a habit. Each time I go to visit one of my customers; I make sure I bring “goodies.” As I tell them, I don’t want them to say, “Oh no, Kirby is coming.” I want them to be excited for my visit saying, “Oh, Kirby is coming! I wonder what he will bring me!” I am NOT above gift giving to gain business. I will trade a $5 promotional item for $1000 worth of business every day!

So remember…promotional products work for three simple reasons. They are a very targeted form of advertising, they are cost effective and people love free stuff (the Rule
of Reciprocity)!

If you want to get more customers, get better customers and spend less money doing it, then a well-thought out promotional product strategy had better be a part of your marketing mix!

The key here is “well-thought out” plan.

If you simply go around handing out things with your logo to anyone and everyone, you have lost the idea of “targeted.” So in essence, you negate one of the things that make promotional products effective. Think about it…have you done that? Then you say, “Wow I didn’t get any return on that.” Of course you didn’t! You blew it!

So when you are creating your marketing plan for the end of this year and beyond, make sure you consider promotional products and their three benefits to take your results to the next level!  If you want help, click here to contact us!

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.