One of the most tried and true tools of marketing and advertising is the use of promotional products. From inexpensive pens to t-shirts, promotional products are a great way to get your name into the hands of potential customers. When planning your approach to promotional marketing, it is important to develop a marketing strategy to correctly utilize promotional products and maximize results. Choosing a Promotional Products DistributorBefore choosing a promotional product, first you need to choose a distributor. With hundreds of distributors to choose from, it’s important to identify the right fit for your needs. One of the most important things to remember is to avoid companies that just want to push you a promotional product. Commissioned sales representatives are often simply out to make a sale – your purchase equals their paycheck! When you purchase promotional products from a promotional company that uses a team approach, you’ll find they are more interested in helping you find the promotional product that truly fits your needs, not just the promotional product that will give them higher commission checks.After choosing your distributor, make sure that they understand your brand and needs. Don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what you’re looking for or to ask for help. A good promotional product specialist is never afraid to research promotional products and ideas to find the right fit for your needs. From brainstorming to price negotiations, a dedicated account management team is your best source for finding unique promotional products at the best price.Developing a Long-Term Strategy for Use of Promotional ProductsYou should always keep in mind that the use of promotional products is most beneficial when paired with a long-term promotional marketing strategy. Although you may only use a promotional product once, when that product is paired with subsequent marketing efforts and future promotions, you leave a longer-lasting impression on your clients. When designing your promotional marketing strategy, first look at your brand and corporate image. Which promotional products are most appropriate to convey your identity? Is there a certain image or feel you want to present to the recipients of your promotional product? This is a great time to address your specific needs and plans with your account team. With access to a nearly unlimited number of promotional products, they can help you choose the perfect promotional product for your needs. Identifying Your Target DemographicNext you will need to identify your target audience and demographics. It’s important to evaluate who the recipients of your promotional product will be. For example, at a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Georgia State University needed to develop a full marketing strategy for the week-long festivities. They needed banners, print collateral and promotional products to distribute to students. To fit their target demographic, their marketing campaign included imprinted GumPaks™, molded chocolates and print collateral to distribute around campus. Georgia State’s end decision to choose candy for their promotional products was perfect for their target demographic of students. By analyzing your end recipients and finding a promotional product that will be useful to them, you maximize exposure of your brand and corporate initiatives.Usage of Your Promotional ProductLastly, what do you plan to use your promotional products for? The individual promotional product you choose should be based on the several factors already discussed along with the type of event or promotion. The event will almost always determine your budget and type of promotional product. A promotional product for a tradeshow is usually something that draws attention to your booth, thereby drawing attention to your name and services. Using a fun, eye-catching promotional product such as a light-up yo-yo will be entertaining for recipients, and the promotional product will likely stay in their possession for months to come. While a yo-yo might work great for a tradeshow, a more upscale promotional product would be better for a potential million-dollar client. A leather brief bag, digital photo frame or large holiday gift basket would be a more appropriate promotional product for a client at that level. Your choice of promotional product will vary greatly depending on the situation and your target audience.Developing a strategy to effectively utilize your promotional products is the best way to maximize your return. Promotional products are a budget friendly way to get thousands of advertising exposures. By following these tips when developing your strategy, you will effectively use your promotional products to grow your brand.
Navigating the treacherous waters of the Internet to buy promotional products can be daunting, however when done properly, this experience can save considerable time and money. Ten years ago, industry insiders would have never imagined that what has traditionally been a face-to-face, relationship-based sale, could actually be done seamlessly through the Internet. With the fast pace of today’s business world, and the scarcity of time and resources, the industry has shifted, and it is now faster and more efficient to buy promotional products right from your desktop. When researching potential vendors, your first question should be: Can I trust this company with my brand image and hard-earned dollars? The Internet is filled with sites that appear legitimate, but upon closer examination there may not be a phone number or general information about the company history and its resources. One easy way to answer the trust question is to make sure the company has a plentiful “About Us” page featured in a prominent area of their website, typically on the home page. A strong “About Us” page should also have current and accurate information about the owners and employees. Typically, family-run businesses will treat their employees as family members, which in turn will lead to better service, as they strive to make each client a member of their extended family. This mindset, instilled during employee training and ingrained into the corporate culture, ensures that a $500 sale is treated with as much attention to detail as a $5,000 sale. Another important area of concern is the personality and functionality of the website. Almost all of the websites in the ASI industry are third party, cookie cutter sites with limited merchandising and e-commerce functionality. Ask yourself the question: If this company were a brick and mortar retail store, would I want to shop there? Pay attention to the details. Is the store merchandised properly? Is it clean and easy to navigate? Can I find what I’m looking for? Is there sales staff attentive and service driven? You can even use Google Maps to confirm whether or not the company is truthful when boasting about its 25,000 square foot warehouse. Many times companies operate out of a run-down apartment building, or even a home garage. Promotional purchasers should look for an online company that features its USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and showcases its competitive advantages since many of the sites offer little differentiation. Similarly to the offline world, the site should look like a professional, well-run boutique or department store. The companies that feature unique departments or “quick links” and offer sale sections, and new and unique items are the ones that have internal marketing and IT departments. These companies are focused on creating an exciting and individualized experience for the shopper. Furthermore, these companies will have a team of product merchandisers that are laser-focused on filling the needs of the user whether it is by product category, theme, or industry. These merchandisers also spend a considerable amount of time searching for the most exciting products at national and regional trade shows.One misconception about shopping on the Internet is that the only factor worth searching for is the lowest price. While shopping online will usually yield lower prices than shopping offline, consumers need to be sure that they are not blinded by price alone. Although price is obviously very important, the purchaser should be focused on the bigger picture of developing a long-term relationship with their vendor. A well-run promotional products company will assign an experienced account manager that serves as an extension of your marketing team. The entire buying experience should include a consultative review focused on needs assessment and expectations to make sure that products fit your brand image and price point. An experienced account manager will be committed to your account and will be proactive in anticipating your needs for new and unique ideas, whether for upcoming trade shows or other corporate events. Sometimes it is well worth paying a slight premium to work with the upper echelon of web-based promotional companies. Order accuracy and attention to detail will be a high priority for well-run companies, and you should notice it right from the start. The company that you have developed a strong relationship with will jump to the rescue if you have forgotten to order items two days before your trade show, or if your CEO tells you, last minute, that she needs high-end gifts for an upcoming golf trip.Last, but certainly not least is that the strongest promotional companies will have a well-defined guarantee located prominently on their site and on all communications so that if something does go wrong, they replace the product or refund your money with no questions asked. Buying promotional products online can be a wonderful experience if you pay attention to the subtle cues located on a company’s website in conjunction with your own intuition once you start the communication process.
You have put a lot of work into participating in this next trade show. You have organized your set-up materials. You have printed new graphics to hang up illustrating the work that you do. You have redesigned your brochures and updated your catalogs with a fresh new look. You have enough personnel to help run the event efficiently. You feel like you are on top of your game and ready to make this trade show a real success. Are you sure you’re not leaving anything out?
Giving promotional products is the key ingredient to ensuring traffic at your trade show booth. Be sure you are not dismissing this important piece of information. Your time and energy are precious, and you want to be sure you are getting everything out of this next event that you possibly can. Many vendors overlook the possibilities of promotional products, yet they remain puzzled as to why they never reach that next level of success. Major universities as well as a number of marketing research teams have conducted studies. Their results indicate that using promotional items grants you a major advantage over the competition. Buyers are more likely to visit vendors giving away promotional products than those who do not.
There are proven ways that you can promote traffic at your exhibit during the next trade show event you are attending. Follow these few points of advice and increase customer awareness and goodwill at the same time.
• Send out invitations in advance. Encourage your guests to attend the event and to visit your booth. People appreciate reminders, especially those that are personalized.
• Include a promotional gift with the invitation that invitees receive beforehand. Consider a small relatively inexpensive offering, for example, highlighters, pens, writing pads, or key chains. Customers are more likely to make an appearance at your space when promotional gifts are involved.
• Give a second promotional product to visitors who do make the effort to browse your booth. Reward them with an even more quality item as a “thank you” for attending, like a tote bag, sport water bottle, calculator, or CD case. Experts agree that potential customers remember the act of these simple gestures. The reality is that you as a vendor attract more sales with promotional items than without. Additionally, giving out these items fosters customer goodwill.
One example of an actual success story involves a bridal dress company. During the busy spring season, the owners frequented a plethora of wedding trade show events to promote their gowns. This company sent a handful of invitations to each of the local boutiques in the city where each expo was held. The invitations were of a Cinderella theme with a “Welcome to the Ball” message. Attached to each invitation was a tiny key chain in the shape of a glass shoe with a number on the bottom.
The dressmakers told each boutique to distribute the invitations to various area brides who were planning upcoming weddings. The company explained that the key chains were a gift to the brides, but that they should bring them with them to the bridal show event for the grand prize drawing. One lucky number would be randomly drawn which matched one of the numbers on the bottom of a certain shoe. During the event, the designers would complete the drawing and announce the winner of a free honeymoon package.
The trade show traffic for this particular booth was unimaginable. Brides, mothers, wedding coordinators, and others couldn’t help but check in with the dress company, not once, but often several times during the show. And, more importantly, each time they appeared to check the status of the drawing, they were attracted to the selection of dresses and shopped for bridal gowns. These manufacturers utilized their knowledge of promotional products by also handing out customized tote bags imprinted with their name and 1-800 number. Passers-by were relieved to receive another bag to carry their materials and stay organized during the wedding planning process. Once again, visitors noticed the styles and unique formal wear.
In the end, the dress company accomplished never-before record sales and received increased interest in their selection of gowns. The customer goodwill that had been created was obvious. Nobody at the event could stop excitedly talking about which lucky girl possessed the Cinderella slipper that would win the free trip.
Get creative with your next trade show. Search our wide variety of promotional items. One of our promotional consultants would be happy to assist you in ordering an item that integrates into your chosen trade show theme. Allow us to customize a promotional item with your company’s insignia. Increase your trade show traffic while at the same time building customer goodwill and awareness. With all you have invested in your business and attending trade show events, it just doesn’t make sense not to.