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“For it is in giving that we receive.” ―St. Francis of Assisi

We are in a “Give First Economy.” 

I believe this in my bones.  We even talk about this here…and some ways to succeed in this space.  But how can we talk about Succeeding in the Gift First Economy without talking about creating “marketing joy” with Promotional Products?  You can’t.  So let’s dig into how to “give first” with Promo.

Created in back in the late 1800’s, Promotional Products are often an overlooked part of the marketing tool box.  There are even some college professors that refuse to talk about Promo when it comes to marketing classes.  This is short sighted, small-minded and frankly irresponsible.

Why?  Because Promotional Products Work…and it’s not just my opinion.  Study after study is proving it to be true.  So much so, that I wrote an entire book (Delivering Marketing Joy) on the subject.  I don’t want to “re-litigate” the entire argument here.  But I will include this one sections from the book here.

I am sure every form of advertising is accused of “not working.”  As I heard once, “Just because you can’t put the ball in the basket, doesn’t mean there’s a problem with basketball.  Maybe you’re just not good at it.”

Promotional Products do work. 

Many of us have known this for years.  But more studies are coming out all of the time that proves it.  That’s the best thing about marketers getting more interested in measuring ROI.  We are getting facts to back up the theory.  Here are just a few from a study released in 2010:

*Of 1000 people surveyed that had received a promotional product, 89% could recall the advertiser.  Say that out loud people.  The name of the game in advertising is to create customer recall.  Nearly 90% is a number that you might want to know when you are figuring your budget.

*14.7% of participants reported contacting the advertiser after receiving the promotional product.  That is nearly 3 times greater than other media.

When done right, promotional products are incredibly effective.  The more the facts stack up, it’s just hard to argue.

Work Too Well?

The great irony is the other side of the coin is it can be argued these products work too well.  Don’t believe me?  Well look no further than the laws written to limit the amount of promotional materials that can be given in the healthcare industry to Doctors.  These laws were put in place because Big Pharmaceutical companies were creating “undue influence” over these Physicians.  Now some will argue that these laws were put in place because of free trips, game tickets, and extravagant dinners.

Maybe so.

But then why legislate the kinds of products that can be given to doctors’ offices?  To put it simply, these laws were created because promotional products were having a huge influence on healthcare decisions.

The goal of any marketing campaign is to affect behavior change.  When you can implement a campaign so effective that it needs to be legislated…you may want to consider that strategy to promote your organization!

Promotional products have been around since the late 1800’s and I think sometimes this is part of the reason the results are discounted.  Everyone wants to know the newest, hottest ways to reach customers.  You should!

But don’t sleep on the power of promotional products.  Now more than ever, you need to include them in your marketing mix.

If Promotional Products work so well…how can you use them to help you grow in the Give First Economy?  Let’s dig into that.

Marketing They Say “Thank You” For

As we like to say in the promotional world, when you create a Promotional campaign that works, your customers and prospects will thank you for your advertising!  No disrespect to radio, or TV, or newspaper, or social media…but no one thanks you for advertising there!

So how do you create a Promo Campaign that works and resonates in the Give First Economy?  Here are just four things to consider to make sure you hit the mark.

Don’t Just Go Cheap

Probably the biggest mistake I see businesses of all shapes and sizes making is considering your promo ONLY on price.  Of course, your budget has to be a part of the discussion!  It should be.  But just like in EVERY other area of your life, price should not be the only piece of information you consider.

If you are shopping for a car, most people do not just look at price. You consider the features you are interested in.  You think about the reputation of the dealership.  You consider whether you want to drive lots of miles (so gas mileage might factor in) or if you will be going off road or driving in the snow.  If you only consider price, you will likely get a vehicle you are unhappy with.  You want a vehicle that is a good value.  It should meet your needs AND fit in your budget.

When you are considering a promotional piece, think about that item being a very real and tangible representative of your brand…because it is.

Consider Where It Will Be Used

Now that you have decided to create a promotional piece that is not just a cheap piece of junk (we all thank you), you should consider how and where the item will be used.  Do you want your prospects or customers to have your branding around their office?  Is that where these decisions are made?  What about the kitchen?  You would be surprised how many decisions are made there.  Regardless, you need to consider your customer and where you can bring them value.  When you spend just a little time to do that, you can come up with a promotional piece that is used, appreciated and valued for years to come!

Consider Advertising Versus Branding

Next, consider what you are trying to accomplish with the promotional piece.  Sometimes, you want to provide your customers and prospects information where they can reach you.  Maybe (and I am just spit-balling here) you are a pizza place and you create a dry erase board for your best clients.  You want them to place this on the fridge and have your phone number, website, etc. in front of them all the time.  Great.  This is more of an advertising or direct marketing approach.

But sometimes you just want to create more brand affinity…and there is a ton of power in that.  You might want to create a super soft, comfy and cool t-shirt.  This warm piece reminds your customers of their feelings for your brand every time they put it on.  You aren’t going to plaster your phone number all over the t-shirt (seriously, please don’t).  With a piece like this, you create more brand recognition.  Done right, they will remember you.

By the way, neither of these is wrong.  But it’s important to understand what you are trying to accomplish when you begin.

Make It A Thank You Gift

One of my rules in sales is to (occasionally) go to your clients and prospects when you are NOT asking them for money!  As entrepreneurs, salespeople and marketers, we are often guilty of following the rule of Glengarry Glen Ross.  Remember that scene from the movie when Alec Baldwin declares “Coffee is for Closers!”

Baldwin stands at the chalkboard and yells at his underperforming sales team and shows them the ABC’s of Selling.

A:  Always

B:  Be

C:  Closing.

I disagree.

Promotional Products can be the perfect way to go to a client with a marketing gift just to say “thank you.”  Going to your client, on a regular basis, with a simple “thank you” and a small token of your appreciation for their support, will go a long way toward creating a long and profitable relationship.

Simply put, giving first is all about creating value for your customers and prospects.  The best promotional campaigns are designed to do just that.

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