Don’t Sleep On Promo Products!

It has become an “in thing” these days to take shots at the promotional products industry.  Respected business people, legislatures and writers have recently questioned the necessity for these items.  There have been proposed laws decreasing the amount that can be spent on these items (an $18 billion industry) and “controversies” questioning their place in budgets.  Mark Cuban (who I love) even wrote that startups should never invest “in swag.”

It’s all poppy cock.  (And I say that not just because it’s fun to say “poppy cock.”  It’s also true!)

The fact is Promotional Products are a proven advertising medium.  They work.  The best part is, more and more studies are not only showing they work.  These studies are showing they work more effectively than other advertising channels.  Organizations that want to promote themselves should be looking to spend MORE of their advertising buy on promotional products…not less.

What’s In A Name?

I can hear the skeptics now.  “You don’t need tchotchkes, or trinkets and trash.  Those are a waste of money.”  

These demeaning names frustrate me.  Forget the fact that these people discredit what I choose to do for a living.  That’s their prerogative.  What bugs me is that it affects their effectiveness.

So let’s start with the name.  First up, stop call them crap and maybe you will stop choosing crap.  When you stop choosing crap, these products might represent your brand better.  Some of my best clients have even taken to calling them “premiums.”  That’s great because it changes the way you brand yourself on these items.  Let’s face it, the products you choose say a lot about your company.  

So by taking a little more care in what you put your brand on, you will immediately have better luck with products that affect behavior.

Do They Work?

I am sure every form of advertising is accused of “not working.”  As I heard once, “Just because you can’t put the ball in the basket, doesn’t mean there’s a problem with basketball.  Maybe you’re just not good at it.”  

Promotional Products do work.  Many of us have known this for years.  But more studies are coming out all of the time that prove it.  That’s the best thing about marketers getting more interested in measuring ROI.  We are getting facts to back up the theory.  Here are just a few from a study released in 2010:

Work Too Well?

The great irony is the other side of the coin is it can be argued these products work too well.  Don’t believe me?  Well look no further than the laws written to limit the amount of promotional materials that can be given in the healthcare industry to Doctors.  These laws were put in place because Big Pharmaceutical companies were creating “undue influence” over these Physicians.  Now some will argue that these laws were put in place because of free trips, game tickets, and extravagant dinners. 

Maybe so.

But then why legislate the kinds of products that can be given to doctors’ offices?  To put it simply, these laws were created because promotional products were having a huge influence on healthcare decisions.  

The goal of any marketing campaign is to affect behavior change.  When you can implement a campaign so effective that it needs to be legislated…you may want to consider that strategy to promote your organization!

Promotional products have been around since the late 1800’s and I think sometimes this is part of the reason the results are discounted.  Everyone wants to know the newest, hottest ways to reach customers.  You should!  

But don’t sleep on the power of promotional products.  Now more than ever, you need to include them in your marketing mix.  
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