When you’re self-employed, you don’t have a marketing department to fall back on. You have to figure things out yourself. What’s the best way to get the word out about your products and services, and build brand awareness among a large segment of your target demographic?
Promotional products are highly effective. When you consider the ultimate cost-per-impression of an item that gets used multiple times a day for at least several months, they’re also pretty reasonably priced. Make sure you choose products that your customers will use and find ways to encourage customers to obtain and use more of your promotional products. Appeal to your target demographic with free branded gifts they’ll use, and help maximize your ROI with cross-channel marketing.
Which promotional products are right for your startup? They should be relevant to your services or industry or, if not, they should appeal to your customers’ interests. They should be sturdy and long-lasting, made with high-quality material. They should be useful and, ideally, they should the kind of item that people take to work with them or wear while running errands — the more places your promotional items go, the more people can see them.
The most popular items include pens, USB drives, clothing, tote bags, power banks, and umbrellas. Customers may get more excited about some of those items than others. No one gets too worked up over a free branded pen, but that pen will rattle around in your desk drawer, handbag, or glove box for months — maybe years. If the pen writes smoothly and is comfortable to hold, your customer might just start using it as a favorite pen. And each time that pen is used, your cost-per-impression goes down as the customer absorbs the brand messaging yet again.
You shouldn’t always choose the cheapest option when buying promotional products. Even a slightly more expensive product might last a lot longer than the cheapest, and that will boost your ROI.
The more promotional products your customers are carrying around and sharing with your friends, the more brand awareness you can build. But at a certain point, you need customers to want your promotional items, or else they may not even keep them.
By incorporating promotional items into your customer loyalty program, you can target customers who are already primed to make future purchases. You can also make promotional items a reward to be earned, which increases the chances of customers using them and even playing along with cross-channel social media campaigns.
Conventions, trade shows, fairs, expos, and other events are the perfect opportunity to spread your brand messaging with promotional items. Station yourself near the entrance and offer a free branded tote bag to each person who walks in the door — they’ll carry them throughout the event, advertising your company’s services, and then they might take them home and use them to buy groceries or run other errands. You can even add some swag, like custom pencils and pens or branded travel mugs, to your totes for additional appeal.
If you can get customers talking about your company online, you’ll be able to cast a much wider net with your brand messaging. Promotional products can help you boost customer engagement on social media when you encourage customers to post about your branded items. How are customers using the gifts you’ve given them? Are the promotional items desirable? You can generate buzz not just for the company as a whole, but for your promotional items themselves, which you can leverage to encourage more customers to participate in your loyalty program or attend trade shows and other events where you’ll be handing out swag.
Promotional items that don’t appeal to your customers won’t get used — customers often just won’t need them. You need to use marketing personas to understand the types of branded products that your customers will enjoy. Just as with other types of products, customer preferences might vary depending on location, age group, level of education, and other demographic factors.
There are few advertisements more effective than promotional products. Each one has the potential to reach dozens, if not hundreds, of pairs of eyes. With a relatively small initial investment, you could grow your customer base exponentially.