No More Pens, Please!
By Paul Quinn, © 2002.
Consider the impression you leave with a client who spends
$130,000 a year with you by handing them a bulk purchased
$1.50 pen to thank them for their business. Insulted? With
Consider handing a Director of a large Corporate who earns
in excess of $250,000 a year a $2 branded keyring. Impressed?
I think not.
Consider giving a $3.50 mug to one of the HR Officers in
a large Corporate who deals with at least eight other agencies.
Does your mug set your agency apart or reinforce your point
of difference or does it just sit on the shelf in the office
collecting dust with a line of other mugs? The shelf if
you're lucky, taken home and used as a kid's paint brush
holder in all reality.
If you think these examples are a little far-fetched, think
again. These are actual examples of "gifts" given
to clients by Australian recruitment agencies.
When to use promotional items
It probably sounds like I think promotional items are a
waste of money - they aren't. When done well, promotional
products can form a very effective part of your marketing
mix. They don't work, however, when little or no thought
is put into the reasons for their purchase, and the act
of presenting the gift is not linked to the delivery of
a relevant message.
Here are some ways you can use your promotional items
to good effect: (1)
1. Client acknowledgment: Remind your customer
that your relationship with them is valued and important.
2. Employee recognition: Express your appreciation
for employees or provide as an incentive to employees
to achieve more.
3. Competitive advantage: Provide tangible reinforcement
of how/why your company is unique.
4. New product announcements: Create interest and
excitement for a new product or service.
5. Special events: Act as a permanent reminder
to your customer of you and your event.
6. Trade show support: Be remembered long after
7. Product development: Help generate immediate
recognition and brand awareness.
8. New market focus: Build an everlasting impression
and create interest.
9. Image development: Emphasise themes of value,
service, commitment, quality and performance.
10. Increase visibility: Your company name on an
everyday staple affords visibility and serves to remind
clients of your product/service.
11. Drive website traffic: Offer a visible reminder
of how to find you online.
12. Encourage referrals: Offer as an incentive
to encourage clients to refer your company to potential
13. Supplement direct mail: Encourage greater response
to direct mail offers by including a promotional product
as part of the offer.
How to ensure success:
The choice of what promotional item to use can be challenging.
Marketing & eBusiness magazine suggest the approach
should, "Examine factors such as the level of seniority
of the intended recipients, their nationality, geographic
location, time of year and how valuable a customer they
are."(2) We suggest you consider
these factors as you work through the following seven-step
process developed to help ensure maximum ROI on your next
promotional item purchase:(3)
1. Define the specific objective you are trying
to achieve by offering your promotional item.
2. Determine how you are going to distribute the
item to your target audience.
3. Create a central theme that supports your image
or position in the market.
4. Develop a message to support the theme.
5. Select a promotional product that bears a natural
relationship to your profession or your theme.
6. Ensure you haven't picked an item based solely
on uniqueness, price or perceived value.
7. Use a qualified and reputable promotional product
The key to all successful promotional campaigns is to use
a promotional item that is different, supports your image
and uses a clever and succinct message that emphasises your
point of difference.
So, what's worked?
Below are some examples of campaigns that, in our opinion,
have used promotional products and messaging to good effect:
A bank targeting small business sent fish-related
products with the message: "Are you tired of being
treated like a small fish."
An advertising agency sent a miniature rubbish bin.
Inside was a piece of screwed up paper that when opened
out said: "Don't let your advertising go to waste."
A recruitment agency sent an exclusive pen and Swiss
army knife box set with the message: "They say
the pen is mightier than the sword. Yet we'd like to offer
you one of each to cover all bases (at Agency XYZ we're
not known for taking chances.)"
The final word
In our experience, promotional product suppliers vary in
their areas of competitiveness; some offer great discounts
on clothing, others on watches etc. Therefore, it's important
to shop around for quality products at a good price. Of
course, quality and price shouldn't be the only selection
criteria; ensure the company you choose is committed to
understanding your business so they can help you come up
with relevant and creative promotional items that will set
your agency apart from competitors and reinforce your point
(2) It's in their hands. Marketing & eBusiness magazine
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