I get asked all the time and I mean ALL THE TIME…Can I really boost leads and sales by choosing the right promotional products to relay a message?

And my answer is always a big YES!

The Promotional Products industry is a 21 BILLION dollar industry because promotional products work. “Big brands consider promotional products a significant part of the marketing mix, even includes them in their annual budgets.” says Beth Ann Kilberg-Walsh, Manager, Marketing Communications at Xerox Corp.

“Promotional products are important, especially during challenging economic times,” she says, “because that’s when companies need people to take action. We’re all so serious these days … you have to create some type of fun … a little bit of enticement just to make the person act,” says Kilberg-Walsh. “Everybody wants to win something; everybody wants to get something.”

Marketers need to be more strategic about how they launch campaigns involving promotional products. But it all comes down to 3 key elements for a successful promotional products marketing campaign.

#1. The Target Audience

Promotional products must make sense for the target audience.

Once you’ve defined the demographics of the target, ask yourself: How do they spend their time? Where do they work: at a desk, on the move or both? What would be useful or novel to them? What has worked at reaching them in the past?

Here are some promotional products that appeal to just about every audience:

-Magnets: They’re functional, versatile, and easy to find when needed.

Checkout what this client has to say about using magnets: “It’s an easy item to hand out at a trade show” says Ron Lehner, President of Total Automotive, “When they get back, they slap it on a filing cabinet and, six months later, they start thinking about our company and remember it’s on the magnet.”

-Bags: They’re hot commodities, especially reusable grocery bags, because so many people use them.

-T-shirts, pens, hats, calendars, key chains, mugs, etc.

Other promotional products appeal to very specific audiences. USB flash drives, for example, appeal to techie audiences.

#2. The Message

What message do you want to convey? Is it the value proposition or specific benefits for the target audience? What us the Call To Action (CTA).

Also, decide whether the objective is branding-oriented or strategic to ensure that you choose the right promotional product for the campaign.

#3. The Promotional Product

The hardest part is finding the appropriate item to convey that message.

If the message is about keeping clients’ Web applications secure, the best promotional product might be a USB flash drive with a biometric strip.

If the message is about passing on information on an investment opportunity, the best promotional product might be a NERF football.

Xerox used a Rubik’s Cube to symbolize putting the pieces of a puzzle together.

Well since I seem to have gone off on a tangent, might as well show you some other great examples of companies successfully using promotional products to get their messages to the target audience.

Example #1

Target Audience: Automotive body shops and new car dealers

Message: Lehner wanted to increase the chances of his target audience buying a hinge kit, so he demonstrated to them how to install hinge kits he designed for GM trucks.

Promotional Product: A low-budget instructional video about how to use the hinge kits burned onto a business-card-sized CD, which Lehner gave out at trade shows.

Result: About 50% of Total Automotive’s online leads came from the mini-CD during the months following the trade shows. “When they watch the video, they’re pretty much on board,” Lehner says. “They want to start stocking them and buying the kits.”

Example #2

Target Audience: Attorneys who file patent applications for US companies in foreign countries

Message: A law firm specializing in trademark and patents wanted to communicate the savings it could provide. The firm saved clients an average of about $100,000 per year in patent fees.

Promotional Product: A fake $100 bill shaped like a man. The $100-bill-man had a zipper that, when opened, revealed a business card with a phone number, the name of a representative, and a personalized URL. It arrived via direct mail.

When recipients went to the personalized websites, they were greeted with their name and an online calculator that showed how much money they would save with the law firm’s services.

Result: About 11% of the recipients responded by calling the phone number or visiting the personalized website.

Check out the next two very successful campaigns from the Promotional Products Association International Pyramid Award winners.

B-to-B Example

Objective: 3M wanted to increase respirator sales and build brand awareness about its complete line of 3M disposable respirator products

Target Audience: A list of 800 distributors who were selling some but not all 3M respirator products

Strategy: An eight-part direct-mail campaign that spanned about 17 months. Each direct-mail piece contained a sample respirator and a related promotional product. A clear piggy bank, for example, delivered the message, “We want you to breathe through your nose, not pay through the nose.”

Promotional Products: A keychain, a pair of Elvis sunglasses, and an embroidered hat were used in conjunction with the sample respirators. Each had a unique message that tied it to the sample respirator.

Results: 20% sales increase of 3M’s entire respirator line following the launch of the promotional product campaign.

B-to-C Example

Objective: Arby’s wanted to keep customers coming back

Target Audience: Arby’s current customer base

Strategy: Arby’s created a loyalty coupon program that allowed customers to sign up and get a card with a removable bar-coded keychain tag. Anyone presenting the tag got an automatic discount. Each tag exhibited the company’s message, “I’m thinking Arby’s.”

Promotional Product: A discount card with removable keychain tag

Results: An Arby’s in the target area reported a 25% increase in sales directly attributed to use of the discount cards.

Creator and founder of outrageous promotions, Robert Vico can help you use the power of the $20 billion dollar promotional products industry to easily and quickly flood your business with more prospects, clients and sales than you can handle without hiring an expensive Ad agency or an overpriced marketing “Guru”. For a copy of our book, click here. If you’d like more information on how promotional products can help your business, call 305-888-7301.





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