Publicize With Promotional Products
Whether you're exhibiting at a trade show or sending out press packages, promotional products are a great branding tool.
October 15, 2001
By Mie-Yun Lee, BuyerZone.com
The power of "free" is undeniable.
For proof, go to any trade show. While you'll certainly see a lot of traffic at booths exhibiting the latest new products, there's inevitably even more traffic at those booths giving away the best free stuff.
More technically known as promotional marketing products, these items - clothing, alarm clocks, mugs, and the like - are emblazoned with your company's logo or message for long-lasting visibility. They can be a great tool to generate name recognition and create customer goodwill, often at very little cost.
In turn, promotional marketing products can help drive sales. In 1999 alone, businesses spent $13 billion on them; that's up from $5 billion in 1990.
Choosing the right item
Anything a logo can fit on is a suitable promotional product.
Backpacks and briefcases, badges and buttons, hats and t-shirts, mugs and glasses, Christmas ornaments and computer accessories, golf balls and tees, yo-yo's and stress balls, umbrellas and ice scrapers� the options are endless, ranging from serious and useful to tacky and silly.
With the menu you'll have to select from, it's worth spending time to make the right choice - one that will effectively get your company's name into the heads of potential customers. To make this choice, you'll likely end up poring through either a web-based or print catalog to pursue a vendor's offerings.
If you're a financial service that wants to build customer loyalty, for example, a good fit might be pocket-sized solar calculators.
Or if you're looking to attract repeat customers to your car repair shop, you may want to give away a tire pressure gauge imprinted with your logo and phone number.
And a big choice for computer-related businesses is mouse pads with a logo and url.
Once you've made a decision, the next steps are to determine
Most importantly, there's the logo. You'll need to send your logo with thorough instructions on how and where it should appear on the item.
Logos are typically accepted as graphic attachments via email, or on paper via snail mail.
Working with a vendor
There are many, many ad specialty vendors that can outfit you with pretty much anything you can imagine found on the Web and beyond.
Most vendors you'll encounter don't actually produce the goods themselves, but instead act as a broker, sourcing what you want from the manufacturers and managing the production process for you.
When working with your chosen vendor, pay special attention to the visual appearance and quality of your promotional marketing item. Samples should be readily available for you to inspect firsthand as you finalize your decision.
Also, make sure to request a "sewout," or a piece of material that shows exactly how your logo will look in actual size and color. This will prevent any last minute surprises; it may be jarring to see your logo drastically reduced on something tiny like a pen or key chain.
Most companies that offer logo merchandise require a set-up fee (around $35) to prepare your artwork, as well as a minimum order (usually a few hundred for the smallest items, less for larger ones).
Pricing varies depending on quality and quantity; you could pay anywhere from $5-$20 per T-shirt, for example, depending on whether you go with brand names and how many you order.
And as with any bulk orders, your per-item price gets lower as your quantity rises.
Whatever you decide, make sure you're getting the most for your dollar while not resorting to shoddy materials. After all, whether it's a baseball cap or a Frisbee, the final product will represent a tangible symbol of your company's message. Make it one worth hanging onto.
Hot tips from the experts
Avoid rushing. If at all possible, give yourself at least 3 weeks from start to finish to ensure the smooth production of your promotional products.
Measure results. It's a good idea to implement some kind of tracking so you know how effective your promotional items are.
Promote from within. Giving employees logo-ed t-shirts or baseball caps can be a great way to increase external brand awareness while also building company loyalty.