Promotional products have probably touched your life countless times already, yet strangely they’re not always high on the agenda when marketers sit down to look at their strategy for the year ahead.
Consider the mug you’re drinking from right now as you read this, the trusting trolley token attached to the bunch of keys that you never leave home without, or the handy reusable tote bag that you were gifted at the last expo or work conference you attended. These are all fairly standard examples of branded merchandise products, but ones that add value, offer convenience, and more importantly, are held onto for considerable periods of time – not to mention pretty low-cost when compared to other marketing tactics.
Promotional products have the power to permeate the lives of your target audience with relative ease, increasing brand awareness and, if chosen well, adding serious utility. Just imagine for a moment the positive effect promotional products can provide when they add a helping hand to an otherwise stressful day, when they can provide a solution that makes life that little bit easier to navigate.
Clearly branded merchandise can start out as simple and inexpensive ads a logo pen, pin badge or keyring, but it can also be as sophisticated as your imagination and budget allow. For example, a firm favourite in the corporate sector is the gift of protection – leather goods with in-built RFID technology to protect against identity fraud and anti0-theft backpacks for travelling execs. In the trend-led beauty and cosmetics sector, we’ve been a beacon for bespoke gifts that reflect the premium values of coveted beauty and fragrance brands. Think moulded lipstick-shaped USB’s with Pantone-matched PVC and collaborations with eminent designers.
So why are promotional products such a powerful part of the marketing mix? Well, you only have to dig a little deeper to discover some very compelling stats. the list is actually quite extensive but here are just a few callouts of note.
They stick around
According to a 2016 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) in the USA, people tend to keep promotional products for an average of 8 months. Obviously this number will depend on the item, so products like umbrellas are likely to hang around for much longer. if you factor in the unit cost versus the exposure your brand is receiving, it doesn’t take long to work out the relative cost versus other high-cost advertising alternatives.
Generally speaking, branded merchandise can be handled, used and interacted with. It’s not usually a passive experience and therefore encourages your consumer to act or do something – arguably more valuable than TV and digital ads that can be ignored or skipped easily. This tangibility also means that your brand could be exposed to hundreds, maybe thousands, of other consumers on a daily basis. Just think of the mile’s baseball caps, branded workwear and leisurewear do – to cite just a few examples.
They create brand awareness
A further study bu the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) confirms the impact of incentives on brand recall and awareness. A compelling 96% of recipients or promotional gifts believed they increase brand awareness – a figure easy to understand with omnipresent products like desk calendars, stationery items and tote bags. Brand recall of 79% makes branded merch a serious contender for your budget. And the great news is that this lasting impression can be achieved from an investment of mere pennies. It’s hard to find a comparable medium.
They create business
The same BPMA study also tells us that recipients of branded merchandise are more likely to do business with a company. Now clearly the huge caveat here is that corporate gifts shouldn’t fall foul of The Bribery Act, so you should consider the intention, timing and value of such gifts. They can be used legitimately to demonstrate you’re expertise and capabilities, introducing clients to your brand, but it’s best practice to make sure that they are not timed to coincide with major tenders or contract reviews.
I could happily extol the virtues of our industry and services ad infinitum but, of course, you would expect me to. So instead I urge you to have a think about the branded merchandise items that you have been exposed to or received in the past. How long did you keep them for? What value did you derive from them? Who did you share them with or pass onto? And the interesting thing is this. It doesn’t really matter what your net worth – everybody loves a freebie!