Posted by: brandextenders | May 20, 2013

Products that Remain to be Seen

More and more as I work with clients, my goal is to show them how promotional products (PP’s) are truly one of the most effective forms of advertising.  PP’s have gotten a bad rap over the years and much of that, in my opinion, is due to the fact so many salespeople in this industry sell stuff with a logo. When a client asks them for a trade show item, they immediately recommend a cheap pen or Koozie or some other item on special without understanding their client’s marketing goals.

The barriers of entry into our industry are low and most anyone with a few hundred bucks can start selling PP’s without any experience or understanding of the product. And not just one product, but literally hundreds of thousands with dozens of ways of decorating each one of them. That’s not something you learn by reading a book or looking in a catalog, but is learned through experience, industry education and hard work.

So how do we differentiate ourselves from the thousands of others out there selling trinkets and trash (a term I hate) with a logo on it? First and foremost is to ask questions. I used to call promotionalproducts82on clients and ask a few perfunctory questions before diving into my bag of ideas hoping they would see one they liked. Now, I typically don’t even take product with me on the first call with the exception of a self-promo item or two. I spend the majority of the time I’m allotted asking questions. And not just how many do you need or what’s your absolute drop-dead date, but questions that get them to think about their brand and not just the best PP to use. Here are a few questions I’ve formulated to ask when meeting with a potential customer for the first time and why:

  • “What differentiates you from your competition?” This question helps you learn who they consider their competition is and it may not always be the most obvious. Understanding who they compete against can aid in your research of the best ideas to pitch for their needs.
  • “What story does your brand tell?” Stories are as old as ancient history and create emotions that can change behaviors. Every brand has a story to tell and PP’s should tie into those stories and carry them forward.
  • “How do you want the recipient to feel when given your product?” Are they buying PP’s simply to give something away with their name on it or do they hope the recipient will use the product in their daily lives? Cheap pens vs. custom journal, subtly debossed computer case or a sports bottle that filters water? Recipients can be inspired by a carefully chosen product or they can dump it in the nearest trash can. The ROI on the latter is obvious and on the former, priceless.
  • “What will a successful promotion or event using branded products look like?” This question tells you a lot about what they hope to achieve and whether they understand the power of PP’s. The right product can keep the memory of an event alive with the recipients and reinforce the message for many months or years to come.
  • “What is the most effective promotional product you’ve ever purchased and why?” This will help you understand how they see promotional products fitting within the realm of their brand and a success they’ve had using a specific product.

Radio, newspaper, television and even digital ads are all fleeting. Promotional Products are truly the advertising medium that keeps a brand’s story in people’s hands day-after-day. A study a few years ago by Promotional Products Association International, an industry trade organization, revealed that 89% of recipients of PP’s could recall the advertiser and 69% said they generally keep a PP they receive. The more useful and connected to a brand a promotional product is, the more likely it is to be held onto and used on a regular basis to engage the recipient with that brand.

Promotional products, when chosen carefully and given with love, can truly be the products that remain to be seen.

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