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Promotional products are an impactful and economical alternative to advertising

In an age of technology, many marketers get bogged down in the sophisticated, but also expensive and unreliable technology-based marketing strategies to get their message across. With most consumers giving scarce attention to print, electronic and digital advertising, the smart marketers understand it is always more impactful to reach out to people in a human way. As American management consultant, Peter Drucker, once said, “Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.”

And this is where the promotional products industry comes in to engage the consumer with thoughtful freebies. Companies understand that promotional items serve as a business card for them, with an added sense of goodwill, for people love to receive gifts. Therefore, despite the attraction of the Internet and social media, many businesses are seriously focusing on promotional products. The value of the promotional product industry is seen to record an upward spiral every year For instance, while the promotional products industry was worth $20 billion in 2016,  in 2018, it was worth $24.7 billion.

Studies show that promotional products have a compelling effect on the consumer, which is far more effective than an expensive advertisement. According to studies by Texas-based Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), 76.1% of customers remembered the name of business whose logo was on the promotional product they received during the year, but, only 53.5% of customers recalled the name of the business whose advertisement they had seen in a magazine or newspaper the previous week.

The coffee mug with a company logo to sip your morning coffee will register the company image in your mind, not just on one morning but every time you pick up the mug. Similarly, other products like promotional label pins that you pin on your clothes, or refrigerator magnets on your fridge door, or pens you pick up to write with, will register the name and image of the company, each time the eye falls on the logo.

However, just engaging in giveaways will not achieve the anticipated level of results. Businesses that work smartly, refrain from trying to market everything to everyone. They also need  a clear plan on how to incorporate the promotional products into their marketing program, or else, they risk gambling away a significant portion of their marketing budget. In other words, businesses need to evaluate market segments and target their customers.

Nenette Gray, a Baton Rouge-based marketer, says that when selecting the right promotional products, “everything is driven by target audience.” The choice of promotional products for an executive-level target audience is different to products for individual consumers. “The better we can define the audience, the better we can come up with a branding item to meet their needs,” says Gray.

Businesses can make their marketing budget go a long way by focusing on promotional products rather than on expensive print, electronic or digital advertisements. And they are able to choose cheaper products for mass distribution. However, the purpose could be lost by choosing cheap products just because they are cheap, which, for instance, could result in pens that explode or do not write.  Says Gray, “If it ends up in the trash before the person even leaves the event, it’s a total waste. You might save money in the short term, but in the long term it costs you more. You don’t want people to associate your brand with something negative.”

From another angle, startup businesses know, that samples as promotional products, make a great introduction of the business to target audiences. People are generally cautious in paying money for a freshly-launched product, especially when they are unaware of the quality of a product, or what it will really do for them. This gives the business the ideal opportunity to allow the customer to sample their product through giveaways and sampling. The warehouse store Costco, in the U.S. is a perfect instance of businesses gaining customers through sampling, offering mini samples of food, drink and other products to customers as they walk down the aisles with their shopping carts. Even if a brand is known, such as cosmetics, people want to try out the product before they are comfortable buying it. Stacey Webb, a director of marketing in California, said, “Consumers are so savvy these days, they don’t want to spend their money on anything they aren’t sure about.”

According to research, advertisements need to be seen at least seven times by a target audience either through banner ads, sponsored ads on YouTube or other social media, or television, for the advertiser’s name to be remembered. To grab consumer attention that many times is hardly an easy task. With promotional products, a business has to give away a branded product just once, thereby giving the consumer an opportunity to read the logo many times. With studies showing that most people use a promotional product every week, the chances are that a business brand name will be seen by the consumer at least 52 times a year.

Furthermore, having and holding a product becomes intensely personal, unlike an advertisement, and has a tendency to create a “warm-fuzzy” kind of impression in the mind of the consumer. This feeling could lead the consumer to reach for one particular product amidst a shelf-full of competitive products.

As American poet Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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