The Role of Promotional Products as a Marketing Strategy

m_brugger.jpgPromotional items are a huge part of any successful marketing strategy. Both large and small companies can benefit by using these products, as they provide a means of targeting an audience. The goal is to enhance awareness of a brand and promote the advantages of loyalty to that brand. The end game is to impress new customers, retain old ones, keep and motivate employees along with sending positive messages about the brand.

The first step is to identify the product. The saying “you only get one chance to make a good impression,” is true socially, but it’s also true for companies that provide promotional products. Businesses differ, so make appropriate suggestions. For example, a landscape company requires different items than a healthcare company or a restaurant. The key is accessing promotional products that fit all vertical markets. Products must match the needs, or that “first impression” may be the last impression.

Other critical factors in product selection include identifying how long a product will be used, the type of event at which it will be used, the budget, and the target audience. Is the product a basic handout or giveaway, or is it something you want employees and/or clients to hold onto? Don’t forget to consider the climate and season when suggesting products. Those questions must be answered before the product selection process takes place. Also, the popularity of a specific item varies depending on the region and target audience. In my experience, the most popular promotional products are quality shirts and writing instruments.

Different Sizes, Different Needs 

Large corporations are intent on retaining employee loyalty, and awards and incentive products are usually very effective. But large companies want more than just an end-user marketing strategy. They want to market their employees as representatives of their brand, and that opens a world of product possibilities. Smaller companies normally have tighter budgets, so it’s important for them to be more creative with their marketing strategy. The flexibility to cater to both large and small businesses is vital for the success of companies that sell promotional products. From experience, networking and trade shows are a great way for smaller companies to thrive. Pens, tote bags, mints are popular handouts and very cost-effective.

The Cycle of Need

It’s also important to evaluate a product’s life cycle. For example, a restaurant may order 100 shirts regularly, but with staff turnover, they may need only 50 in certain months. Some customers may do trade shows quarterly, while others may hold an annual event and place one large order. Keep track of what I call their “cycle of need”. Awareness of that intangible makes an impression on your client because they know you will quickly react to their needs. Pay attention to a brand’s most requested products and the time of year they will need it. Creating awareness and being in tune to your clients’ needs provides the most impact.

The Next Level

Marketing is vital in taking a company to the next level. Promotional products and wearable items are great, but the ability to get leads from source partners and online advertising is also important. Businesses should take advantage of a full marketing suite - from promotional items to print advertising to digital media. Lead-building programs can attract new business, whereas sending promotional products to top clients for special occasions, or during the holidays, benefits customer retention. Employing marketing techniques is what I call a “360 solution” - it helps grow business.

Social media plays such a huge role in messaging, so promotional product companies should use this medium to its fullest. Develop an active online campaign to remind customers of different events and what you can offer for those events. Announcing an event on social media 45 to 90 days out enables timely ordering and delivery of products that support the event. Communicate with businesses and retail clients in advance - it’s a unique opportunity to secure promotional products that enhance morale, help employee retention, and raise awareness of your brand.

At Fully Promoted, we have more than one million different products, so we narrow down to about four or five relevant items that provide the most impact. Know your customers’ needs, react to their needs, and provide products that make an impression. That is the foundation of success. 

Mike Brugger is president of Fully Promoted, a brand of United Franchise Group in West Palm Beach, Florida. He joined UFG in 1994 and successfully supervised multiple operations. In 2000, he opened and managed the first EmbroidMe store in West Palm Beach, a company later re-branded as Fully Promoted. Over the years, Brugger managed marketing, technology, and training departments, and prior to being named president of Fully Promoted, served as the Vice President of Operations Emerging Brands for United Franchise Group.

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