Choosing an Effective Promotional Product

  • May 19, 2020

With businesses opening back up and bringing along better access to our clients and prospects I am fielding a lot of questions about choosing and using promotional products effectively; especially given that a fair number of people are still working from home and in-person sales calls and events are still not happening.

Being more particular about promotional products is a good thing. The days of just picking something out of a catalog to hand out willy-nilly should have been long over – in fact, they never should have been. Our marketing budgets should be spent wisely with some expectation of a return on investment and the ability to create what we call strategic memorability.

To that end, there are several points to keep in mind when choosing a promotional product for maximum effectiveness:

  1. Who is your target market for this particular campaign?
  2. What is your goal for this particular campaign?
  3. What is your brand image and/or the theme for this particular campaign?
  4. What is your desired call-to-action?
  5. What is your delivery method?

Although it may be easier to simply pick something “fun” out of a catalog, it won’t necessarily be effective. For example, back when I was working in hotel management, we had a BBQ foods convention in-house. Everyone got a very nice branded cowboy hat from one of the sponsors. Everyone loved the hats – they wore them throughout the 3-day convention. On check-out day, the housekeeping staff found hats in almost all the rooms of the convention attendees. Most of them had flown in and didn’t want to wear them while traveling and didn’t have room in their luggage to pack them. Oops, that was several thousands of dollars of marketing budget that ended up in the hands of the housekeeping staff, front office staff and whoever else was around when the housekeepers went off duty that day. It didn't end up in the hands (or on the heads of) the target market: meat buyers for restaurants and catering companies.

Consider also that the quality of the product has to be good. What message does a branded item give your customers and prospects if it breaks or causes damage or just ends up in the trash? Is that how you want your branded image to be remembered?

Finally, keep in mind that the “perfect” promotional product is not necessarily the one that the decision maker thinks is cool or hot; likes the best or wants the most; or is trendy or "new. It is the target market and marketing message that should define what the “perfect” product is, not the personal tastes of the person making the final decision. That being said, the item chosen should reflect the personality of the brand it is representing.

If you're just giving out "stuff," then you're probably not creating strategic memorability™. If you're not doing that, are you truly making the impression and connection with your client/prospect that the item was meant to do? A little extra effort, or an good promotional product consultant can help you choose wisely.