Promotional Marketing - It’s Time to Get Personal

Promotional marketing is in its own renaissance right now. In a world of digital connections, absence of in-person interaction with customers, and a beleaguered economy, companies, and especially small businesses, are realizing that customers still appreciate a free gift and a personal touch.

Giveaways are incredibly inexpensive and profound in impact for a small business. A simple gift can pack more punch than your competitor’s massive advertising budget. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Lasting Impressions, Literally
A study released in February by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) surveyed more than 1,000 consumers who recalled receiving a promotional product in the past 24 months. The results are pretty astounding to say the least, and should be bookmarked by any small business owner who wants to put some bragging rights and hard ROI numbers behind their marketing budgets.

According to the PPAI’s “Effectiveness of Promotional Products as an Advertising Medium” study:

• 94% of respondents could recall the promotional product
• 89% of respondents could recall the advertiser
• 78% could recall the message
Additionally, there’s no debating the fact that consumers actually like receiving gifts:
• 83% of respondents like receiving a promotional product with an advertising message
• 69% generally keep the promotional product if they have a use for it
• 36% generally give the product to others if they have no use for it–ensuring additional exposure for the advertiser

What Do Customers Really Want?
Promotional products are one of the most cost-effective ways to get a message or company name out there and have it stick. From trade shows, to incentives, to premiums, to the simple, yet important, “thank you,” giveaways extend a brand and make a lasting impression on your customer.

So how can you choose the right gift from the thousands of different items that can be branded? It’s simple: think “useful.”

The PPAI study cites that 92 percent of customers said they kept a product because it was useful, with the kitchen and office as two locales especially hitting the mark. Now, there is nothing surprising in this news. People tend to want things that they can actually use. Consider the PPAI’s list of “Top Promotional Products With The Greatest Advertiser/ Message Recall Due To Usefulness Or Uniqueness”:

1. Pens
2. Calendars
3. Coffee mugs
4. Magnets
5. MP3 players
6. T-shirts/golf shirts
7. Tote bags/bags
8. Gift baskets of food

What better place for your brand to show up than on someone’s desk? One promotional item that companies tend to forget about today is the old, reliable calendar. People love to have calendars on their desks even in today’s digital age. And a calendar is about the most powerful branding platform you can ever use. Just think, you can start it on whatever month you want, include separate brand messages or even coupons or online coupon codes on every single month, and you can have your logo on every single page. Other great items include sticky notes and calculators.

Nonwoven totes are another great giveaway. When you give a nonwoven bag, customers are going to take it (and your brand) everywhere, from the beach to the market and back again. Same goes for high-value items such as aluminum water bottles or travel coffee mugs that will carry your business name all around town.
When you try to decide your purchase, don’t just buy for a specific event. Remember that you want your item to last for awhile, not just for a season or a passing fad.

While the promotional product is one of our most traditional marketing tactics, you just can’t deny its continued and relevant success today. Technology may increase our marketing opportunities, but the human emotion, connection, and power of promotional marketing simply does not change.

About the author

Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of, the world’s largest online promotional items company. has put more logos on more items for more people than anyone else on the planet.


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