The first step of any marketing campaign should start with figuring out who you are marketing your campaign towards. The same approach applies to promotional merchandise.
You need to design your products around the people you will be giving them to. In some instances, this is other professionals, employees, the general public, children and families or a more specific target group.
You can define your audience group using factors such as age, gender, interests, income, priorities, place of work etc. These factors may only subtly influence your merchandise but can maximise its appeal to your target group.
You should define your marketing products and strategies around an audience that is as specific as possible, to achieve the best return on investment. You should always define this group in as much detail as possible before investing any money into a marketing scheme. It may even be worth carrying out a focus group or getting feedback on prototypes from a group that are representative of your desired target audience.
Your product needs to make sense to the audience you market it to. Think about what would be useful or novel to this group, where they work, how they spend their free time and consider how you have effectively engaged them in the past. Certain groups will respond better to online, postal or event-based strategies.
If you have ever collected data on how customers initially heard of you, then this can be really helpful information. This data can show you where most of your customers heard about your business and when targeting specific people, what would be the best approach to engage them again. You may want to consider adding a ‘how did you hear about our company?’ question, to any online enquiry forms for future use.
Promotional products may be seen as traditionally more appealing to specific audiences. However now with the endless range of products and the ever-growing number of platforms, it is possible to entice any audience via a promotional products channel of marketing.
If you have a specific target audience then they will have specific needs. To have a successful marketing campaign you need to make sure you adhere to these. Design your strategy whilst bearing in mind what your audience look for and what is important to them. When it comes to promotional merchandise consider what they will use on a frequent basis and what will leave a positive impression.
You could even look at other businesses with the same target audience and tease apart the successful elements of their marketing campaign. Finding out what entices your consumer is critical. Once you have identified what is memorable, exciting and desirable to your target audience then you can use this information to ensure you design a product suited to their needs.
The Right Product
50% of people keep an item of promotional merchandise for 1 to 4 years so this highlights the importance of getting the product right and delivering a message that will be consistent for an extensive period.
Sometimes campaigns are not aimed towards a specific group of people; for example, charities looking to fundraise or companies wishing to increase broader brand awareness. In this instance, it is the product that becomes the focus point. This can often be a harder job because you need to appeal to a broad spectrum of people with different interests, personalities and motivating factors.
To find the right product that represents your brand and appeals to a broad audience, there are several things you need to consider. These include aesthetic features such as size, colour and materials, aspects that represent your business ethics and principles and production features such as cost, number of units and production company used.
There are some products that are versatile and will appeal to most audiences so these are a safe bet when you do not have a specific audience. These would include magnets, bags, stationary, calendars, key chains, mugs, USB drives, sweet jars etc.
The range of products now available is vast and growing almost daily. There are many quirky ideas in the market if you are looking for inspiration and some more original products may include; mints, trolley coins, torch keyrings, umbrellas, conference folders, clocks and school bags.
Products aimed more at a bespoke market may include leather bookmarks, leather bound diaries, flash drives, speakers, executive pens and metal key rings. To browse the Diamond Printed products available then just visit our website to see our current range.
Most companies will designate an annual budget for all their marketing and deciding the best way to spend this money can be difficult.
It is best to set a budget based on how much you want to earn from your campaign. If you would like to increase your sales by £50,000 a year then it would be unrealistic to spend £60,000 on promotional merchandise. Calculate for you, what is a justifiable amount of money to spend on your promotional products.
The great thing about this strategy is that it is so flexible. If you have lots of product left over or you did not gain the results you expected then you do not need to reinvest the next month. However, if you see a big increase in sales or profit as a result then you can adjust your order and increase the amount of product your order the next month.
Keeping the price per unit as low as possible is important. Most companies will sell items in bulk and charge a price per item. To increase your profit you should reduce the spending where possible whilst still obtaining quality products and a respectable turnaround time.
Return on investment is key to any expenditure within a business and promotional merchandise are said to have one of the greatest return on investments compared with other marketing strategies. A study by the British Promotional Merchandise Association found that the ROI of promotional products was better than radio or outdoor advertisement and equal to that of TV and print. The best feature being that once you invest in one lot of promotional products they will keep creating repeat exposure every time the product is then reused, unlike a TV or radio advert, which can quickly slip from the minds of those who view them.
It may take a few attempts to maximise your ROI whilst you work out the best product price, the most accurate number of units needed for each event and the items that are the most attractive to customers. Once you have the perfect combination of these variables you should see a healthy return on investment.
Always bear in mind that the product you choose will represent you as a brand and a service provider. So while keeping your costs low is important, the quality of the product is equally as important.
You may not have a huge budget but quality does not always come hand in hand with expense. If a product is relevant and thoughtful it will be perceived as a quality gift. Whether it is a one-off item, individual items personalised to each customer or a more general batch of products for a specific group, quality is always important. You can source all of these options now at very reasonable prices with more exciting product choices available for affordable prices.
If you are marketing your business as a bespoke service such as event planners or luxury travel agents then your merchandise needs to reflect this. If you give out cheap, unreliable products of low quality then these traits will reflect onto your business. Therefore if you are seeking high-end customers or big investments, it is worth spending a little more to give your business the desired image.
Some of the most successful items are those that can be used on a daily basis. This is beneficial to both the recipient who gets a useful promotional product and for the company who achieve repeated exposure. Such items could include water bottles, doorstops, pens, reusable shopping bags, mugs and calendars.
You do not want your promotional item to be considered as ‘clutter’. This increases the chances of it just being thrown away or left behind. Many people do not like the idea of bringing more clutter into their homes and will not keep things from conferences or events if they do not think they will use them again. Throwaway products such as wristbands offer very little value to the consumer and if anything, produce a negative impression of your company.
Keep in mind that the more times an item is reused, the more exposure your company is getting. The more exposure, the stronger the connection made with the recipient and the more opportunity for your brand to be seen by new customers.
v How to Best Incorporate Promotional Merchandise into a Successful Marketing Campaign.
Where possible, it is effective to fit your promotional strategy into your broader marketing strategy. Integration often leads to the best possible results and the biggest impact. This can also make results easier to measure on a more general scale of marketing success.
Adding promotional merchandise into your existing marketing strategy, can help you engage with your current customer base, increase company visibility and aid with expanding on your existing customer relationships.
Think about what you want from your promotional merchandise and the role you want it to play in your marketing. Some people may use promotional products to raise product awareness, to create a brand image, to rebrand, to take on new customers or to impress existing customers. All these things can be done using an effective, diverse marketing campaign.
Define the Overall Objective
First of all it is important to define your objective. Set yourself a target that you would like the promotional merchandise strategy to achieve. This could be to increase social media popularity, increase sales figures by a certain percentage, increase the number of new customers taken on each month, increase in daily enquiries etc. This target must be specific and realistic for your business.
This will help you to track your success at a later date and you can see whether your campaign effectively helped towards your target or not. Some people choose to look at the combined results of their marketing or look at individual strategies, which can be harder to measure.
Collective Persuasive Influence
Promotional products act as influencers, so if you wish to persuade people to do something then you are better off getting them on side first. This increases the likelihood that they will want to give back to your business. Promotional merchandise can be used as incentives to existing or new customers. They can encourage them to follow up after an event, make the first call and give your company a chance. Receiving such an item may also make them look more favourably on your other marketing strategies and hold your business in higher regard.
It is also important to think about what you want to persuade people to do and whether your overall strategy is tailored towards achieving that result. If you wish to increase repeat custom then you need to target existing customers but if you want to increase the number of new customers you will need to approach a new audience. Whatever the goal of your marketing, ensure your strategy is the best for maximising your results in this area.
When it comes to integration, look at your overall marketing budget and then assess how much you can afford to put towards promotional products. Promotional merchandise is typically one of the cheapest marketing strategies available so you should not have to spend large amounts of money to make a substantial impact.
Consider the cost per impression to your audience, how much you want to spend per item and how the product will be enjoyed and used. Some products will have more exposure, therefore will make more impressions. If this is the case and your item is reusable then you may consider spending a little more on such a product because the cost per impression is lower than throw away items.
Many large companies still consider promotional merchandise to be a significant part of their marketing strategy. Xerox for example, always include a budget for promotional products in their annual marketing budget.
It is important to keep track of how much you spend on your merchandise to be able to calculate its effectiveness. This may also help you to make some important decisions on quantities, audience and other strategies.
Where you can, use social media to increase interest in your product or service. You can tie this into your promotional products campaign if possible. If you are able to spark people’s interest in your overall campaign then this builds a stronger connection with any promotional merchandise received. If you can get your promotional products onto your social media or advertise a giveaway then the products will hopefully have more meaning to those that receive them.
Being able to connect across different platforms gives the impression of a large, successful company. Some bigger brands may also choose to use celebrities’ social media to advertise their branded products. This gains access to thousands of social media users and rockets interest in your products or campaign.
Introducing a Sub-brand
If you are looking to launch a new sub-brand into your business, promoting the product or service with the support of promotional merchandise will improve the impressions of the new feature. This elicits a positive attitude towards a new logo or product and will obtain a better call to action response. If you are able to include contact details and a running theme from the original brand then this extends from existing company loyalty. The idea is to make the recipients of the merchandise ambassadors to your new brand.
You may wish to start on a small scale when introducing new elements to your marketing strategy. Get some evaluative feedback from customers and develop your perspective from there. Use what works on a broader scale whilst taking on critique to improve the merchandise that is less effective. This also helps to get a better idea of what your target audience are looking for.
You can then choose whether to launch your product on a short or long-term basis. You may wish to prime the brand in people’s minds before a big event such as a product launch or sale for which a short-term strategy would be ideal. Or if you are looking for a general month on month increase in customers, a long-term strategy may be more effective in helping you to achieve this.
When you are purchasing promotional merchandise it is important that if portrays your business in the best possible light. This is also a key opportunity to get customers to remember who you are and what you stand for.
To choose the right products to reflect your brand you first of all need to know what you want the face of your business to be. You will need a colour scheme, logo, strap line and company name that can guide the design of the promotional products where needed. You may want to be perceived in a specific light such as environmentally friendly, local small business, luxury brand etc. These also need to be considered when selecting your merchandise.
Choosing promotional merchandise to align with your products and services will be key to the impact and impression it has on the receiver. If the marketing is consistent with the company morals and purpose then this helps customers to remember more than just the company name.
Some traditional promotional products lack this relevance and are not useful in getting people to remember your business. For example, promotional pens do not tell you anything about the business through the product unless the company name is a giveaway. If you are able to get a sector relevant product this is the easiest way to explain to people what you do.
Promotional Merchandise offers a vast array of products to choose relevant to your sector or business offerings. Are you an engineering consultancy? Then an architect’s scale ruler would be a great item to promote your business, or do you offer accountancy services? Then what about a promotional calculator?
Look to consider promotional merchandise that will be seen to be of value and use to the receiver. Great examples are giving carpenters pencils and fine line promotional pens to designers. If you are appealing to families then children’s toys or colouring sets are engaging, parents will appreciate being given something to entertain their children at events.
Items that are considered of value are also those that will be used repeatedly and do not just get thrown away. This is exactly what we want from a promotional product to maximise exposure.
Also if it is possible to advertise the benefits of your business through your promotional products then this is a great opportunity to demonstrate why customers should choose you. Are there specific benefits for remembering your business and what are they? Are they specific to your audience or general value benefits? Either way, it is important to highlight these to put you a step ahead of your competitors.
Think about the message you would like to convey to the people you are giving your merchandise to. If you can represent the ethics and business principles via your promotional products then do so. For example, if you are a company that supports the environment and aims to have a low carbon footprint then give out reusable carrier bags or bookmarks made from recycled materials. If you are a company that works towards healthy living then include this in your marketing strategy. Give out stepomters, water bottles, healthy recipe books or meal planners.
Whatever principles you run your business on, try to make your promotional merchandise consistent with these. This helps to tell customers what your business is about and what it stands for. It also helps to give the impression you have strong morals and as a business are reliable and well established in what you have to offer.
Promotional Merchandise is a classic marketing strategy used in almost every sector of business. Both global companies and small local businesses can use it. If you are unsure of how to use promotional merchandise in your business then here are some examples of how other businesses do it.
The Charity Sector
Leading charities rely on promotional merchandise to generate donations, initiate sign ups and to tap into new revenue streams.These are challenges faced by those in the charity sector so promotional products are a cheap way to ensure the charity can keep up and running.
It also gives them an opportunity to communicate the charity’s key messages and objectives, whilst raising the profile of the charity to catch additional supporters. Charities often use the products to communicate their aims and objectives at events such as fundraisers, fetes and appeals.
Comic Relief uses Red Nose Day as one of their biggest fundraising events. They sell all the promotional products such as promotional umbrellas, red noses, car stickers, headbands, wristbands and badges to raise money for their cause. This not only directly makes a profit to contribute towards their targets but it also raises awareness about the event.
Many companies will attend events when launching new products, looking for new investors or trying to boost their awareness or profit. Such events could include exhibitions, conferences, charity fundraisers, product launches, shows and other public or corporate engagement events.
Whilst attending events, pulling people across to your stand to interact with the Sales team can be difficult. It can also be challenging to ensure those who do interact, remember what it was you had to offer.
If you make sure they have items to take with your brand and message back into their office and team, then this creates a best effort to not be forgotten. If you stand out from all the other stalls at such an event, then you will be talked about. Not only will you make an impact inside of the event, recipients will then discuss their experience and display the promotional products outside of the event too.
Whilst at an event you can think about what is typical and expected and move away from this normative strategy. Offering something different will truly get you remembered and help you to stand out against competitors. This difference helps elicit those emotional connections and then in the future, the people who attended such events will attach that experience and the emotions felt to your brand.
Promotional merchandise acts as a clever sales tool for client visits. Leaving a promotional item after the visit reminds the receiver about your offerings, makes it very easy for them to obtain your contact details and can increase their consideration about your core products.
This also puts your company in a good light because everyone likes to receive free products and this reflects well on your customer care and generosity.
You can also deliver such merchandise to clients after visits, especially when there are important business deals being disputed. Such merchandise may swing these decisions in your favour and ensure you are at the forefront of their minds when competing with other companies.
Most companies will host employee events such as Christmas parties, award ceremonies, business anniversaries, fundraisers or events to celebrate specific achievements.
At such events, you can use your promotional merchandise for competitions or prizes. They could be offered as thank you gifts to all employees for their commitment to the company and to recognise special achievements. The employees then feel appreciated and recognised for their hard work. This in turn encourages company loyalty and strong work ethic.
Tourist attraction gift shops are packed full with promotional merchandise for visitors to purchase and take away as a lasting memento of their day. These can then be used in a domestic environment and implicitly advertises the attraction to any visiting houseguests.
Having memorabilia from an event may encourage people to revisit as they are reminded of what a great time they had. This encourages repeat custom and customer loyalty. This is also a great way to make some extra profit from such attractions by selling the merchandise for a small cost.
Start-up companies will see many benefits for using promotional merchandise to take their brand to market and ensure the word gets out.
Large volume hand-outs will ensure that the brand will increase its visibility to the audience, drive traffic to a website, social media and ultimately lead to signup and sales. This is crucial in getting a new business off the ground and making it a success. It is also a cheap strategy for start-ups that often have limited free cash to spend on marketing.
Call to Action
Even when money is tight, many companies will ensure a proportion of the budget is designated to promotional products. In times of economic hardship, these products do not break the bank but still call people to action when it is needed the most.
Promotional products want to create a lasting opportunity to touch base with recipients. Within a business you want to use this opportunity to put forward your company message and why you should be remembered. Whether they are new or existing customers, encouraging them to invest in your business should be a top priority in both times of hardship and success.
Promotional clothing is a field that does not have a particularly good reputation because people assume low-cost, printed t-shirts that would never realistically be worn out the house. However, this industry has advanced massively. Customised clothing can now be worn repeatedly after an event due to tasteful design and subtle branding. Companies such as Nike, Adidas and Coca-Cola have used promotional clothing to rocket their brand awareness whilst also making a profit.
Such companies have now developed their merchandise to the point that it creates its own revenue stream. Well known brands such as Coca-Cola, M&M’s and Tetley have now created a promotional merchandise range they are selling to make profit. There are even stores dedicated to selling these products alone.
Larger companies can afford to brand more expensive items of merchandise such as speakers and keyboards. Sony and Oakley, for example, have begun branding all their high-end quality products with the company name or logo.
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