What’s the first thing you think of when you hear these terms: trinkets and trash, swag, giveaways, tchotchkes? Junk with a logo on it, right? Cheap pens, useless products with a logo, T-shirts you wear to do housework? Unfortunately, many companies purchase promotional products with no thought as to recipients or what those people might find useful. Thus myths are created, which I will debunk below.
People don’t keep promotional products: At some point in your life you’ve been given an item with a logo on it from a cheap pencil to candy, a key ring, tote bag or padfolio. The myth is people dump this crap in the trashcan however a study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), an industry for-profit association, shows people on average keep these branded gems for six months. Awards and apparel have the longest shelf life at close to eight months with writing instruments (a fancy name for pens) the lowest at just over five months (hey, they run out of ink or you lose them). Further evidence shows only 16% of people throw promotional products away while 66% pass them along to others, thus extending the life and branding opportunities of these gifts.
Cheaper is better when it comes to promo products: Given people tend to keep these products for a measurable amount of time, does it make sense to give people the cheapest product you can buy? The study shows eight of 10 recipients will keep a product they feel is useful. That’s not to say that cheap products don’t have their place, but for longer lasting results, investing in items that are practical will yield better results. Useful means different things for different people so take into consideration your audience, their lifestyles and items that make sense for them. Investing in the right promotional products will, in the long run, offer a long-term impression for your branding message.
Promotional products don’t leave a lasting impression on recipients: In the world of media, CPI, or cost-per-impression is the measure of how effective a medium is. While it is somewhat more difficult to determine the CPI of something as fluid as a promotional product, the study shows tote bags, caps, writing instruments and apparel offer the highest exposure to multiple people given their visibility. More personal items like USB drives, health and wellness products and food products deliver the lowest number of overall impressions, but make personal connections with the recipients. Before purchasing a branded item, companies should decide on the connection they want their product to have and whether it should be more personal or be seen by a wider audience.
Marketers can’t track the effectiveness of promotional products: Those dang marketers feel it’s their job to be able to track the effectiveness of their campaigns, so the myth persists promotional product effectiveness can’t be quantified. While it’s true handing out something with a basic logo can’t be tracked, there are easy ways to change this.
- Add a QR code or specific web address to your products that takes the user to a special landing page that only those with your products will access specifically for that product or campaign.
- Add a call-to-action. Print an offer on your product that will give the recipient/user something if they respond. It could be a discount on their next purchase, a gift with purchase, a buy one, get one offer or anything else that only those mentioning the product or offer can receive.
- Print a phone number on the product with an offer so you can count the number of calls received in response to that offer.
Promotional products don’t generate new business: It’s easy to see why this myth persists. Why would someone you give a product to do business with you? The study shows when consumers were asked how likely they would be to do business with a company they hadn’t done business with previously after receiving a branded item, 31% said they would. Products that make it more likely the recipient would do business with the advertiser include logoed apparel (53%), USB drives (43%) and tote bags (42%). Unique items and uniquely branded items tend to make the recipient more likely vs. a cheap pen or food products.
The conclusion is promotional products are a unique and effective way to keep your brand and message in front of those you would like to do business with. While some forms of media are seen as an interruption (i.e. TV and radio ads and those pesky pop-up ads on the Internet), promotional products become a part of one’s lifestyle and are seamlessly used and reused over long periods of time. There’s a reason the tagline, “Products that remain to be seen” has been successful in busting these myths and making promotional products a media presence to be reckoned with.