State and local governments are forcing businesses to shut down due to COVID-19 virus and many businesses are feeling the pinch. Business owners and marketers are cutting budgets and trimming expenses. After being in the marketing and advertising business for 30 years, one thing I have learned is that when there’s an economic downturn, one of the first budgets to get the axe is marketing. While this may be a necessity, I’d like to offer an idea to you. Whatever marketing money you have available, put some of it to promotional products. They deliver an amazing return on marketing investment by allowing you to leverage your money and time.
Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with new customers and prospects about promotional products. If I could boil down these conversations, my customer or prospect wants to know 3 things:
- Why should I buy promotional products?
- Which promotional products should I buy?
- How can I use them effectively?
Promotional products are one of the oldest marketing mediums dating back to the days of George Washington and they are still a viable marketing medium today. Why have they lasted this long? The answer is simple: people love receiving promotional products and they use them in their day to day lives. Promotional products are the only marketing medium that recipients will say “thank you” as they repeatedly see your marketing message. What’s even better is that once that item is distributed to your target market, the message is seen over and over again without interruption and without any additional cost or effort on your part. After you distribute that imprinted mug, calendar, lip balm, hand sanitizer, magnet or whatever, your job is done. That item will do its job showing your marketing message without fail and you won’t have to keep paying for each marketing impression. Additionally, it’s impossible to “unsubscribe” the message on a pen, it’s impossible to click “skip ad” on the message on a chip clip or “mute” the message on an imprinted shirt. Talk about efficient marketing!
There are approximately 800,000 promotional products available but choosing the right promo item for your business comes down to just 2 criteria:
- Your target market.
- Your distribution method.
Very often, customers get hung up on wanting the “latest and hottest” item. In my experience, this isn’t important. Choosing an item that your target market will like, enjoy and use is significant. This is why I advise my customers to choose items that are found on the recipient’s person, in their kitchen or in their workspace. Do you wear shirts or caps with logos on them? Do you keep a lip balm in your purse or pocket? Do you have magnets on your fridge or mugs in your cupboard? What about custom printed sticky notes and notepads – do you see them in your workspace? Promotional products are everywhere and distributing useful items that recipients will keep with them, use in their kitchen or use in their workspace will increase the chances that your message is seen repeatedly.
Next, you could have the latest and hottest promo item every created but if you don’t have a plan to distribute it, you’ve squandered your money. On the flip-side, you could distribute the most boring promotional product and it will do its job because it’s reaching your target market. There are 3 ways to distribute promotional products:
- You can mail them out.
- You can hand them out.
- You can leave them out.
If you go to your mailbox today and find that you received a box, would you open it? YES, of course, you would! Lumpy mail almost always gets opened. Mailing or shipping promotional products is the most expense form of distribution but you are almost 100% guaranteed that your message will be received.
Taking an active role in handing out your items is effective, as well. If you order imprinted pens, you could hand them to servers at restaurants or cashiers in retail businesses. Bring those pens wherever you go and hand them to whomever will take one. It’s really that easy.
Lastly, you can leave them out for recipients to take. The post office I frequent has a cup on the counter filled with pens. Also, many of my customers order calendars that they keep on the counters at their place of business and their customers take them as they come and go.
Promotional products are the only marketing medium that will continue to deliver your marketing message long after you pay for them and this can help you get through these tough times. Choose items that your target market likes and uses and have a plan to distribute them. The recipients will love receiving the free stuff and your message will be seen so many times that your cost per impression will become almost zero.