YBC Academy : Promotional Merchandise

What is promotional merchandise – when should you use it and how can it help you create brand awareness for your product or brand.

Promotional branded merchandise is nothing new and in fact has been around since 1789 when a button was produced to celebrate George Washington becoming the first President of the United States. In 1886 Jasper Meek, a printer from Ohio, convinced a local shoe shop to supply bags with their name on to a local school and from there the promotional products industry was born. However it was not until the mid 1950’s that merchandise started to be used in corporate marketing and by the 1970’s companies really began realising the importance and benefits. During the 1990’s and 2000’s the industry continued to grow and companies have become ever more inventive with their use of branded products to support promotion of events, new products, gift giving and brand awareness.

What is branded promotional merchandise, – very simply, it is anything at all that you print your brand or company name onto and that gets you noticed.

Promotional Merchandise

Whilst there will be costs involved – choose your item carefully and think of how many times your logo/brand/message is going to be seen.

Other than being a superb way of improving customer and business relations promotional merchandise.
– It’s an excellent way of getting the recipients attention
– You can use the product to demonstrate brand attributes that you want to get across
– It builds relationships and goodwill
– Gets your logo (brand) known and recognised
– It’s inoffensive and quite literally in the face of your target audience

Research shows that people that receive promotional gifts feel happy, appreciated and special and they are generally impressed – think, especially as you are starting out, are they not things that you want to achieve for your brand/company?
Will you achieve that by adverts and social media alone or do you still need to have in your arsenal of weapons carefully selected promotional products?

Why is an investment in branded merchandise so important in the advertising/marketing/brand awareness mix – according to research it makes almost 80% of people feel appreciated – the reason for that is because it enables you to target your customers (staff/potential customers) effectively and because of its ability to create loyalty (and I will show you some examples of how this can be done below).

One of the most common reasons that promotional merchandise is used is: To reward your customers and say THANK YOU – but if you think about it there are a lot of ways and reasons to do this which include:

  • Saying thank you to a sponsor and giving them a gift
  • Saying thank you for the business
  • Thank you for your support
  • Thank you for your loyalty and here is a gift
  • Thank you for gong beyond the call of duty
  • Thank you for speaking at our event
  • Thank you for attending our event
  • Thank you for joining our company and here is a welcome gift
  • Thank you for a referral
  • Thank you for stopping at our stand

Traditionally promotional merchandise is primarily used for
Tradeshow giveaway

  • In the current period we are not meeting people face to face but businesses still need to connect with current and potential customers and offer us the chance to be creative – offer your item on your social media pages and offer to send a gift for liking/following/commenting on your page – run a competition asking for pictures or captions with your gift in.

Customer engagement

  • Let your existing clients know you are thinking of them – even when they are not ordering (especially in these difficult times). Remember studies reveal that acquiring a new customer costs anywhere from 5 to 25 times as much as retaining an existing one – so let them know they are important to you

Sales incentive

  • Sales incentive – sell/buy this and get this – you choose what is suitable for your industry and budget

Employee engagement

  • Show you care and value your staff – the more you do that the more they will enjoy working for you and give the best representation of your brand to your clients

And of course as a Thank you as mentioned above

Decide what to achieve

  • Obviously you want to increase visibility – but to what end in particular and for how long?
  • Make sure you send a product that is targeting your audience – ie, there is no point sending a desk item if your target audience are kitchen staff
  • Think about your budget and how many times the product will be used/seen
  • Use the print area to get your message across & target that message
  • Use different products at different times and for different reasons
  • Talk to a promotional products supplier – give them your requirements and let them come up with ideas for you – you do not have to do it all yourself

Finally I just want to share with you some creative ways to market your business using branded merchandise:
Match promotions and products with major events – plan around an event that you can link your brand to with the right promotional products. It could be an anniversary, it could be a major sporting event, a solar eclipse – you decide but my advice would be to plan ahead.
Connect with niche interests – you know your target audience. If you have a guitar shop why give a pen or a notepad (useful items) would your audience not prefer a branded guitar pick?
Reach out to influencers – don’t wait for people to come to you – reach out in a positive pro active way – start the conversation by sending them a branded item to let them know who you are and that you want to work with them – especially if you are a new business
Exchange your products for referrals – ask people for leads (check they are real) and send a branded product
Promote your branded products on social media – share pictures – print your social media links on the product – send them out and it can help drive people to your pages

My parting message to you is that I cannot stress to you enough the impact of having your brand or company name printed on a relevant and usable everyday object, quite literally in the face of your target audience – an item that will provide a constant visual reminder of your business in a friendly, inoffensive manner that helps to promote positive trust in your organisation.

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