We are rapidly approaching the closing of another year. Its time to start planning your marketing and promotional budget and items to ensure maximum benefits.
There are many things to consider when you start thinking about implementing new promotional products into your marketing arsenal; can I afford this, will my customers keep it, will it really help increase my business, am I reaching my target audience, what is the right product for me and my business?
Lets talk about these important questions one by one.
1) Can I afford this?
The more important question is can you afford not to advertise? Your competitors are reaching hundreds or even thousands of your customers every day with one form of marketing or another. They are paying for media such as television, newspaper or radio or using promotional items in the local community. The may be a part of the local chamber of commerce or take part in community events that you think you can’t afford. This is a common mistake made by small business owners everywhere. If potential customers can not find you how can they do business with you? Talk to a knowledgeable representative to find out how you can best integrate cost effective promotional items that have a very good cost per impression to best utilize every penny to your benefit.
2) Will my customer keep it?
Many studies have been done on this very topic. People love to receive practical items such as tote bags, travel mugs and pens. If you keep this in mind you can study your local market and decide what would be appreciated. Knowing your market will help you determine what your potential consumers might hold on to and use for days, weeks, months or even years to come. Gyms and health centers might have great luck with sport bottles while car dealers would do well with safety kits or ice scrapers.
3) Will it really increase my business?
Marketing like anything in life takes time and practice. You will never see immediate results with anything that is worthwhile. Consumers have a short memory. If they see your name more they will start to remember it. Studies show that the average consumer must see a business name logo 17-23 times more for that information to become permanent. If you have one cable commercial on how do you plan on making that quantity of impressions? Promotional items around town will work well on their own or with your existing marketing strategy to increase your impressions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for one small price.
4) Am I reaching my target audience?
That is your most important role in finding appropriate promotional items, knowing your audience and how to target them. It goes beyond industry alone. You must take season, age, sex and income bracket all play an important role in who is your potential customers. It is not unreasonable to believe that common items like calendars, pens and lanyards will reach the consumers you’re targeting. Additionally, keep in mind that marketing is not an instant fix. Do not change up your strategy without collecting much data. Give your campaign a start and end date and track the usable data. Do not end a promotion just because it doesn’t seem to be working; let it run its course. Switching your strategy mid stream can confuse you and your consumers!
5) What is the right product for me and my business?
That’s a question that only you can answer. I think its always appropriate to use general giveaways like tote bags or calendars because you’re getting more impressions for your expense and perhaps making a new target audience. Many argue that things like pens are so broad and handing them out or leaving them behind in key locations like banks or restaurants you are reaching quantity but not quality consumers which is a waste of marketing dollars. I don’t agree with that especially when you’re budget is smaller. If you can reach more consumers, including the ones who were not even given the item it helps to increase awareness of your brand. When you’re first building your marketing tools you need to have a strong foundation, like building a sand castle you use a lot of sand as the base. It doesn’t have a lot of decoration or flare. It is there to make your structure strong and stable.
I also believe in a tiered premium program. Your company will grow and many companies have learned that having several different types of promotional products depending on the situation or consumer has worked best for them.
Level one is the high volume low cost items like pens. You can use these somewhat freely, leaving them behind and giving them away to anyone. This creates the quantity of impressions you need to create a strong foundation. I also include calendars in the level one tier. They’re like the foot soldiers of your promotional arsenal.
The second level would be slightly more targeted cost effective products like tote bags or mugs. You might want to save these for the consumers that come through your door or visit at trade shows. They are usually slightly more expensive but you can typically get a smaller quantity, which means be more thoughtful about who you’re handing them too. Remind employees that these are for people who you know or at least assume have some knowledge or interest in what you have to offer them.
The third level is the thank you level. Usually these are the items you see given to a consumer that becomes a customer. Buy a boat get a cooler or buy a car get a road side safety kit. These are gifts. They are definitely more expensive and have lower minimum quantity requirements. You thank your customers with these items so they are tailored to a specific audience.
The top level are executive gifts and awards. These are the items you give to top level employees, customers and vendors. They usually can be purchased in single units and are more expensive. They have a very specific audience but used appropriately they are extremely effective. They tell potential consumers you’re successful and thoughtful. That you appreciate those that put you at the level you are at and it makes your brand memorable.
There are many questions and answers but the most important lesson is to make sure you’re getting those impressions! Once people recognize and remember you can count on new business.