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Promotional items can either make or break your brand by Perkal

From keyrings to leather folders to your basic corporate pen, promotional items are an integral part of businesses advertising and marketing strategies across the globe. Millions of promotional products are given out every year.  Promotional items first appeared in the early-18th century, when George Washington used small bronze pins to promote his re-election campaign in 1789.

According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), there are more than 22,000 promotional item distributors and 4,800 manufacturers. These suppliers are successful for one reason: promotional items work. In a PPAI study, 94 percent of respondents said they could successfully recall a promotional product they had received in the past two years; 83 percent said they liked receiving promotional products; and 69 percent said they kept promotional products in their homes or offices. Compared to other forms of advertising, 20 percent said they made a purchase after receiving a promotional item whereas only 4 percent said they purchased after viewing an ad online!

Now that we’ve established the importance of promotional items in marketing, here are some guidelines for choosing the right promotional product for your business or brand.


Connect Your Brand with Each Promotion

Almost any product under the sun can be turned into a promotional item, but make sure the item you choose is connected in some way with your brand. If you’re a tech company, think branded card readers, tablet cases or usb related products. Magnetic clips, key chains or tape measures might be the perfect fit for a real estate business. Health care and hospitals could go with pill dispensers, first aid kits or hand sanitizer. Choosing a product that reflects your industry will help your customers connect with your brand and create product association whenever they see a similar product, they will think of your company.

Choose Functional Items

People keep promotional items that they can use. To successfully market your brand, your promotional item has to be of some use to your consumer. Ink pens tend to stick around in offices, and refrigerator magnets with helpful information in addition to your branding (such as a directory of local numbers associated with your industry.) If you have the budget, think about a bigger item that’s used frequently, like an umbrella, notebook or high-quality tote. Choose a product that feels like a useful gift rather than a throw-away advertisement.

Go for High-quality Small Items

While it may be tempting to order 5000 pencils or water bottles emblazoned with your logo for next to nothing, think twice before placing that order. Rather go with a smaller quantity of high-quality items in lieu of a larger quantity of low-quality items.  If you give away cheap or poorly-made promotional items, people may associate the quality of the items with the quality of your business – a huge negative from a branding perspective.

Make it Pop

Promotional items should have a great design and colors, but should also be unique and interesting. What products would you keep around? What would you show to your friends? Eye-catching and unique promotional products are more likely to stick around and be shown off, which increases the prominence of your brand – and the likelihood other customers will see it.

Consider Your Promotional Item’s Exposure

Along with being functional, tied to your brand, high quality and eye-catching, your promotional item needs to have longevity for maximum exposure. Think about how long your item can be used. Avoid perishable or food items because they will be gone quickly. Fragile or glass items can break easily, and seasonal items may only be used a short amount of time.  Also stay away from extremely personal promotional items. The goal of using promotional items to market your brand is so that each piece can be seen – and that won’t happen if your promotional item is tucked away in a cabinet or drawer! Think about a branded wall clock, it is looked at many times each day and will last for many many years.

Keep Your Recipient in Mind When Choosing a Product

The process of choosing the correct promotional products begins by getting to know your consumers more intimately. For instance, are your consumers mainly women between the ages of 25 and 40 who have a college education and children? Then a book light, fleece blanket or a picture frame featuring your company’s name or logo is a great option. On the other hand, if your main demographic is males under the age of 15, chances are a pink, fleece-lined vest isn’t going to make this core group remember your company fondly. A quick survey of your consumers is a great way to narrow down your choices. If your consumer base is broader, consider other popular, tried-and-true options, including pens, tumblers or blankets.

Just as a great corporate gift will make sure you are top of your customers mind, a poor choice can have a negative effect on your company or company image. When it comes to choosing the ideal promotional product, remember to remain relevant, classy and memorable.

Don’t Forget the importance of Branding when making your choice

You’ve chosen the ideal promotional product that doesn’t break your budget and makes sense for both your brand and consumers. However before going ahead, make sure that your company logo/details can be prominently branded onto the product. Many products have branding limitations, some products can only take a 1 colour print, and other products have a very small branding area. It’s very important to make sure you can display your brand and details in the way you want.

Don’t Forget your contact details and website address

Forgetting to include your company’s website and contact details can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of the corporate gift. A potential customer may clearly remember your name and logo, but where will he go for further information? If possible, also include your company’s address and telephone number to make accessing you easier.

Don’t Offend your recipient

Although given with the best intentions, certain gifts can inadvertently offend the recipient. It’s important to be aware of your clients demographic and to ensure that you don’t offend them with a gift that is not acceptable in their culture. The one gift that one should avoid giving to a Chinese is a clock. In Cantonese “clock” is a homophone that means “to go to a funeral” and may be construed as wishing death upon the person. Likewise, it is considered bad luck to give sharp objects such as a knife or scissors because it represents the severing of a friendship. It’s not a great idea to give alcohol or alcohol related gifts to Muslims and some Jewish people won’t keep any product in the shape of the pig.

Finally, take your time before making any final purchases. Always pay attention to how your company’s brand, logo or website address is displayed. Work with your supplier who is there to guide you and use your creativity to determine the most attractive layout for your product. When in doubt, always go with color over black or gray and choose a font that’s easy to read.

This article was published on Tuesday 11 June, 2013.

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