The Real Power of Promotional Product

By: Mitch Carson
Staff Writer

          In today’s ultra-competitive environment, what trait do successful companies share?  They use integrated marketing to enhance relationships with customers and employees.  One of the most cost-effective tools for building rapport is with promotional products.

            The value of promotional products is their ability to carry a message to a well-defined audience.  Because the products are useful and appreciated by the recipients, they are retained and used, repeating the imprinted message over and over, without additional cost to the advertiser.

            For years, promotional products were viewed primarily as a tool for enhancing goodwill.  Now we know they do much more.  Recent studies show “Ad Specialties” are an effective means for increasing repeat business, improving direct mail responses, and stimulating customer referrals.

            Southern Methodist University conducted a study on the role promotional products play in gaining repeat customers.  The school tracked the activity of 300 new customers at two dry cleaners over an eight-month period.  All of the customers received a welcome letter, one third also received a $5 coupon, and one-third received a $5 promotional product.  After eight months, the customer who received promotional products spent 27% more than those who received coupons, and 139% more than those who only received a welcome letter.

6 Tips for Creating a Successful Promotional Products Campaign:

1.       Define a specific objective.  Whether the goal is to increase trade show traffic or boost sales, the first step is to clarify the purpose of the program.

2.       Determine a workable distribution plan to the target audience.  Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself.  Research show that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products.

3.       Create a central theme.  Linking a recognizable logo and color to all aspects of a campaign, from promotional products to sales sheets to product packaging, helps create an instantly recognizable image.

4.       Develop a message to support the theme.  Supporting a campaign’s theme with a message helps to solidify a company’s name, service, or product in the target audience’s mind.  For example, a bank wanting to promote its small business services posed the question, “Are you tired of being treated like a small fish?  And sent fish-related products to its prospects along with promotional literature.

5.       Select a product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or communications theme.  One company developed a magic motif for a conference at Disney World.  Attendees received magic-related products to tie in with the theme “experience the magic with Disney.”

6.       Don’t pick an item based solely on uniqueness, price, or perceived value.  Don’t fall prey to the latest trends or fads.  The most effective promotional products are used in a cohesive, well-planned campaign.  

Mitchell Carson has 20 years experience in the promotional products industry and can be reached at (818) 706-8787, 

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Last modified: November 08, 2002