It’s almost prime tradeshow season and that means marketers are busy scouring the internet for ideas around the hottest new trends in promo items. But before you go out and spend thousands of dollars on a plastic gizmo or gadget (or foam finger), it is important to evaluate the purpose and the objective as they relate to your marketing program.
Why Promo Items?
Let’s start with WHY companies are buying products with their logo printed prominently front and center. In the 1980’s marketers began using promotional products to generate brand awareness because they found them to be a cost effective marketing tool that had a proven success rate in boosting brand recognition. Salespeople use giveaways at customer meetings and marketers hand out truckloads at tradeshows because they are a tangible item that is often used on a repeated basis that helps maintain a lasting connection with customers. Most people love freebies and jump at the opportunity to write with a pen that has your company logo or drink out of a coffee mug with your company website address.
Selecting the Best Promo Items
That said, there are so many different items to choose from, so how do you possibly select the best promo item? If you go online, you will find hundreds of promo item companies that sell a huge variety of items based on your budget. But before you throw those water bottles in your online shopping cart, you might want to do a little research to find out what your target audience will actually use and how you are going to get the item in their hands. For example, you probably don’t want bulky items like water bottles if you are handing them out at tradeshows because you will have to ship them there, store them in the booth, and your customers might not want to carry them all day or stow them in their luggage for the trip home.
Remember, the goal is to put something in front of a potential customer that they will potentially see or touch often…something that is usable and has longevity (a branded chocolate bar will probably be consumed immediately and doesn’t have a prolonged existence). That said, it is also important to choose an item that complements your company product so the customer associates it with your business. For example, a light manufacturing company might choose a promo item such as a stress ball in the shape of a bulb, or a travel agency could select a suitcase shaped business card case.
I’ve found that some of the most popular branded items include: memory sticks, drawstring bags, t-shirts/caps, co-branded gift cards (XYZ company logo on a Starbucks card), or a pocket size tin of mints/gum/candy (refillable of course!). And, everyone always appreciates a notepad/pen combination, so they remain bestsellers. However, you can be even more effective with your promo item if you find a creative tie-in to the product you are promoting and if it is appealing to your customer base. Another thing to consider when selecting your items is that your promo item is a physical representation of your company/product and should be of a good quality that includes your company logo (and if you have space you can add your website address and/or phone number).
What next? Do a little brainstorming to come up with some ideas for creative ways to tie-in your marketing freebie to the business or product. Research various options online at a multitude of promotional item specialty shops or better yet, if you have the budget, get something custom made to meet your needs. Plan to buy these low cost items in bulk so that your team can distribute them throughout the year and make sure that you consider logistics for shipping if necessary (for example, notepads or memory sticks will require a padded mailer envelope). And, always feel free to share a sample with your humble blogger (as long as it’s not a foam finger!).