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Promotional Product Guidelines for Use

Promotional Product Guidelines for Use

To get the best kinds of results from a promotion using promotional products, it will help to follow these guidelines:

  • Determine overall goals. Promotional products can be used for almost all types of motivation. Some questions you need to ask are: What kind of response am I looking for? At what point will the response justify the budget? What are all the product options?

  • Target your audience and determine the scope of the promotion. For instance, you can give away neat items at a trade show, but will you reach the right prospects or are you just clogging your booth with premium vultures?

  • Devise strategies to ensure that only your target audience gets involved with the promotion. Sometimes this goal can be achieved through product selection, such as when you motivate golfers with imprinted golf tees and balls. In other cases the means of qualifying to receive the premium can do the trick, such as sending in proofs-of-purchase or requiring that a sales prospect sit through a product demonstration and fill out a questionnaire.

  • Make sure the items support your marketing story. With consumer promotions, this usually means tying the promotional product to the lifestyle and self-image of the target audience. One example is Philip Morris's Marlboro Miles incentive. Consumers are rewarded for repeat purchases of Marlboro cigarettes by choosing items from a catalog that includes imprinted items with a rugged cowboy theme.

  • Look for items with "legs." Too many promotional products get thrown away as soon as they're opened. Look for useful items that offer repeat opportunities to reinforce your message. This doesn't mean "expensive," as evidenced by the success of refrigerator magnets, Post-it notepads, pens, and calendars.

  • Use a comprehensive approach. Many successful promotions involve several stages that build to a crescendo. You may use an inexpensive premium in a mass promotion to get people involved, then follow up with other items and strategies. Example: A gasoline company gave away colorful antenna balls to customers who bought a certain amount of gas. Spotters then drove around the city, taking down the license numbers of cars sporting the balls. When a license number was called out at the end of a radio spot, the customer had 24 hours to call in and win a prize. Using this approach added excitement to the promotion, generated word-of-mouth, and ensured that the promotional item was displayed.

  • Reinforce other promotions. A leading sporting goods manufacturer gave away imprinted ties to qualified prospects at a trade show. The prospects were invited to the company's suite party and told that if they wore the ties they'd get a door prize and be entered to win a trip to Hawaii. Not only was attendance high at the party, but the ties helped build a sense of community among the prospects.

  • Make sure you can deliver. Nothing causes more grief than playing up an imprinted item in an ad campaign only to find that the premium is back ordered or otherwise delayed. Perhaps worse, when the item is defective or quality is inconsistent, you can irritate a lot of people. Such problems can cost you a fortune in rush charges, as you try to make up for lost time.

  • Beware the pitfalls. Planning can help here. For instance, buying from an overseas supplier can save a bundle, but count on increased turnaround time. If you need something in a hurry, go for simple imprinting with an item that's readily available. Make sure there's an accountable party at all stages of the process, including fulfillment, and build in ample time for shipping and mailing.

  • Consider all the costs. Sometimes an inexpensive item can make for an expensive promotion. For instance, shipping and mailing costs can turn a one-dollar calendar into a two-dollar calendar. A watch may fit your budget until you factor in the price of batteries. Use checklists and common sense, and get advice from your suppliers.