Over the years promotional marketing and advertising have evolved to take advantage of changes in consumer perceptions and desires. Equally, as modern industrial society has constantly reduced the cost of consumer items and made more products available to the average person it makes sense that marketers would look towards the public’s interest in acquiring more useful products as a means by which to change perceptions and consumer buying behavior. It was in the mid-1850s in the USA that promotional products officially became a modern marketing force. Cotton bags were printed with logos and the effect of handing them out to the public was such that many other people began finding a range of different items which could carry their brand and message while engaging the consumer class. It was only a matter of a couple of decades from this first innovation that promotional marketing became a widespread and comprehensive expansion of this novel marketing approach was exported to all corners of the globe.
Of course, there is some evidence that even in ancient history people utilized the idea of handing out merchandise to their business contacts to engage with them and modify their buying behavior. Still, to this day, the act of handing out gifts to business contacts has many advantages and this element of personal gift giving is also inherent in the continuing success of the promotional products industry. While general large scale media advertising has great value in informing the public and putting new ideas into the general swirl of society a well designed promotional product carrying an appropriate message and recognizable branding is a proven way in which people can improve business relationships and maintain an element of personal contact in an increasingly impersonal business world.
Promotional Products in The Age of Digital Marketing
The modern business world is becoming increasingly impersonal. Most people spend their days staring at a computer screen and communication takes place via emails and text messaging. It was only a couple of decades ago that many salespeople spent their lives on the road and rather than harvesting orders through websites via a search engine many business people spend them, lives nocking on doors and engaging directly with their client base. Promotional products offer an opportunity to make business communication and marketing more personal in this changed marketing environment. The personal element and the consideration of gifting which is inherent in offering a branded product to a client or business contacts goes a lot further now than it did when such behavior was commonplace. Many clients report that offering their sales base a well-chosen promotional idea engages far more and generates more inquiry and positive feedback than any of the more modern and allegedly efficient systems of communication and exchange which dominate the modern business landscape.
Consider for instance that your company is offering similar product to its competitors in a crowded market. Rather than sell entirely on the price the canny businessperson knows that the relationship between the individuals involved in the purchase and supply cycle can have more influence on the level of order and profitability than any of the technical aspects of the similar products on offer. Rather than cut-price an engage in a spiral of reducing service and quality with a single focus on unit cost some brave marketers take the high ground and prefer to build the basic relationship structure rather than focus on the product and the mechanics of delivery and logistical support. If your company is constantly battling reduced margins in a competitive market it could be that promotional products offer a better way to engage with your clients than simply being a “me too” and wasting resources in an endless spiral towards the bottom of the market.
Promotional Products as Part of a Wider Marketing Mix
No successful marketing company puts all its eggs in one basket, at least no company which is successful in the longer term. While nobody is denying the advantages in general advertising to launch a new product to a broad market base for many companies the unit cost of media advertising is beyond the short term return and this makes it difficult to engage with competitors at this level. this is where promotional products can be useful to both identify and reward niche markets in the larger picture or to select segments of a larger market and engage with them at a personal level. Say for instance you want to enter the complicated and highly competitive soft drink market with a new product which will come up against some of the bigger players, It would require enormous resources to engage in a full-scale branding battle, particularly against companies which have many decades of market experience and high levels of consumer awareness of their brands. Instead imagine you simply go into the stores, offer a personal branded gift which says something positive about your client to retailers and also offer their customers a gift with purchase which will encourage trial of your product. This is what s called a “pull” strategy in marketing and it can drive a wedge into a segmented market which will encourage trial and if your product measures up, ongoing sales and profit.
Different Ways in Which Promotional Products Can Build Sales and Awareness
Like general media advertising, there are a number of ways in which promotional products can be used to gain a foothold in a market, increase profitability and enhance brand recognition. One of the most popular is a retail “gift with purchase” offer, also known as offering a promotional premium. The is a value offer so you provide a branded item which will encourage people to look more favorably upon your offering by bundling the retail product with a “free” offer. A classic example of this offer is when a brewery will offer a free glass or a free stubby cooler with every carton or 6 pack purchased. Consumers are not stupid and when they see the free offer they make a calculation in their mind as to the apparent total value of the package on offer. The clever promotional marketer will be able to buy their branded promotional products at a considerable discount to the apparent retail value of the offering, so therefore a glass which may cost a dollar has a perceived value of $5 to consumers. This makes the value of purchase far superior in the consumer’s mind while also putting in their hand a branded gift which will continue to remind them of your products every time they use it or see it at home.
Another simple way in which promotional products are proven to work is at trade shows and events. the cost of maintaining a presence at these events is often excessive so anyway in which more people can be drawn to your booth and engaged for longer by staff increases your return on investment. Small gifts like pens, confectionery or even notepads are proven winners at these events and as people wander past and spot that you are making free offerings they are far more likely to come by again or spend time speaking with you.
Deal with Promotional Product Experts
If your company dis chooses to offer custom branded promotional items to staff or business contacts always remember that each product carrying your logo becomes an ambassador for your brand. Make sure them products you choose to represent the values of your brand and have some relevance to what you do. But also remember that marketing is not an exact science, it contains as many elements which could be classified as art as science and in many cases, the largest return on investment can come from breaking the mold and venturing into new territory. promotional products marketing offers a rich field of opportunity for the canny marketer and the proven sales results and returns on investment promotional marketing generates is all the reason anyone needs to ensure some proportion of your marketing budget is allocated to this proven category of marketing activity.