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Breaking the Code: How Promotional Products Yield Successful Brand Marketing

WHO?: More than a Koozie

Forget about the promotional products you’ve been introduced to before. Look beyond the Neoprene exterior and discover that a promotional item is really a vehicle for marketing your brand, just like an ad you place in a magazine or a postcard that you send in the mail. They are called promotional products for that very reason! One of the simplest examples is a pen. If you’ve ever seen the pen section of a catalog, you know how frustrating it can be to wade through page after page of fiber tips and ballpoints. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Consider your audience. What would they prefer? What will they hang onto? What’s a quality pen that will last? That pen is now a vehicle that will market your logo, brand and message every time it’s used.

WHAT?: Beyond the Mug

Promotional product options have expanded exponentially in the last several years to include such categories as coolers, fitness equipment and technology. The industry has gone way beyond the old fashioned mug to offer unique, specialty items that truly hit home for your audience. For instance, instead of a notepad, consider a trendy tech option like a USB Power Bank or a light-up Bluetooth speaker. Yes, you can put your logo on items just like this! (For more ideas, check out our list!)

WHERE?: Going the Distance

The travel log for a promotional product might surprise you. Let’s again consider a pen. You present it to a prospective client. It’s a useful tool, so it’s unlikely to get tossed. In fact, it may find its way into a briefcase and taken to a business meeting, where it is left with a new owner who then takes it home and leaves it on the counter where his spouse picks it up…you get the idea.

The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) released an Impressions Study in early 2016, which addressed the lifetime of a promotional product, something to seriously consider as well! Let’s look at our friend, the pen:

  • 50% of people surveyed in the U.S. own a promotional writing instrument, second only to t-shirts and drinkware.
  • The cost per impression for a pen is less than 1/10 of a cent in the U.S.
  • Promotional writing instruments have, on average, a lifespan of 6 months with its recipient.
  • 63% of Americans tend to give their promotional products to someone else, rather than file them away or throw them away.
  • The top reason (93% of) Americans hang onto writing instruments is because of their useful nature.

WHEN?: Timing is a Tool

Giveaways. Handouts. Trinkets. They’ve been called many things, but when used effectively, they can only truly be called promotional items. The timing of the product delivery is almost just as important an item itself! It’s typical to see items such as pens, koozies and keychains spread out on a clothed convention booth table. The timing is completely appropriate--everyone likes free stuff! But also consider the interaction that occurs when these items are passed to the potential client. Could you make a display of a few freebies, but keep the stash under the table until you begin a conversation with the attendee? Perhaps you have some more high-end items available for those who sign up for your mailing list, which is advertised with simple signage. Other less common yet highly impactful opportunities to implement promotional products is for your employee incentive program, to replace a business card or for a Facebook contest. Your creativity is the only limit to what you can do!

WHY?: The Bottom Line

The public said it all. In the 2016 ASI study, promotional products were named the “most highly regarded form of advertising”, beating out newspaper, radio, magazine, TV, Internet and mobile ads. And if that’s not convincing enough, here is some other food for thought from ASI.

  • Your Budget Will Thank You: Ad specialty items are cost-effective at approximately only $0.70 per impression, and the price is not expected to increase anytime soon.
  • They Keep It: Americans own on average 9.8 promotional products, and have reported keeping the item for up to two years for commonly re-gifting them.
  • They Prefer It: All age groups from 18-54 said they prefer promotional product advertising over any other method, including TV and magazines.
  • They Remember: 85% of people who receive a promotional apparel item recall the name of the advertiser who gave it to them, thanks to associating your brand with a favorable gift and experience.
  • They’re Different: By choosing an item that’s targeted to your audience—large or small—the promotional item is always going to be powerful because it’s different from the average advertisement, therefore drawing attention to your brand and potentially initiating a conversation. The plus? It can be taken home.

More than just a handout or giveaway, promotional products like t-shirts, hats, mugs and even pens really do have the power to grow your business and attain your goals. If you’d like to read the whole ASI Study, you’ll find even more statistics according to gender, race, political party affiliation and residential area. You can also drill down quickly by looking at the state preferences breakdown. Just always remember your audience. If you keep them in mind, they will likewise have you in mind.

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