Some in the marketing field refer to promotional items as give-away items. Those are the usually small items that you give out for your customers to keep reminding them of you. They are a part of the effort of the marketing communication department to boost visibility and hence boosting sales.
Those products are usually printed material that can vary from plastic bags, paper bags, T-shirts, Polo shirts, Pens, other stationary items, calendars, computer accessories, mugs, cups chain holders, etc.. The benefits they offer can be directly linked to your business, or unrelated to it.
Everyone likes a free gift (well maybe almost everyone). I remember when I was a child and we purchased a new color TV, I was more excited that I got free stickers than the fact of having the TV itself. The stickers were plain simple advertisement for the TV manufacturer that I had put on our apartment door, our fridge and my school text book.
In some cases, your business may not afford offering such items (although you should consider the option by adding the cost of the item to your service charges). This article is mainly geared towards those who chose to use promotional items in their marketing strategy.
There are loads of promotional items in the market that can be customized for you. Which one will you choose? In my opinion and based on experience there is no one size fits all product. Your choice may be depending on your industry, your target market and social conditions of your targeted customers.
In order to choose the promotional item that suits your needs you will have to identify the benefit you expect from it. I usually focus on visibility. My aim is to have my advertisement visible to the maximum amount of people. This is due basically to the type of business I am in. This approach differs when I am targeting a niche segment. I would rather tailor the promotional product to reflect a personal message as I am expecting a long term relationship.
Identifying the benefits does not guarantee the success. Your item of choice may prove to be irrelevant to your potential subscribers. Printed pens for example were always among my choice of successful promotional items. When I was working in a country where illiteracy rate is about 70% among the adult population (My target segment), Pens proved to be a failure when it came to promotional items. Although no one refused the free gift, they were practically never used.
T-shirts however made a better alternative. Many of our customers did not wear them, yet they redistributed them to their employees or relatives, hence ensuring my visibility target. On the other hand, T-shirts are seasonal items that did not last as long as I was expecting pens to do.
Key chains are not an attractive item to someone who does not carry keys. In some countries, the population is so poor they cannot afford buying locks, let alone affording decent housing. Even those who have locks for their doors tend to carry one key and the keychain will simply add weight in their ready to be torn pockets.
Flashlights were a huge success in a country where electricity is rarely available at night. The usage of a special design light that projects the logo of my company rather than the usual light beam made this promotional item even more successful.
USB drives were a very attracting item to offer in one market where I launched the first 3G service. It was highly appreciated by our targeted subscribers who were using the 3G services for their data needs since existing ISP service was too expensive and unreliable compared to ours. This same item choice was a failure in a market where computer penetration is less than 2% due to power issues and price limitations. On another hand, due to the fast paced advancement in technology a USB drive that you offer today may be considered obsolete in the following quarter. .
Investing in promotional items is a choice you make. Define your expectations, study your options, and know your customer, only then you can hope that your choice will be successful and help you achieve your expectations.