How to Choose Effective Promotional Products for Your Customers
By Lisa Ruan
Personalized Customization

How to Choose Effective Promotional Products for Your Customers

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Marketing your business with custom promotional products is a slow process, and you can’t easily measure your success in simple terms of profit and loss. The goal of promotional marketing is to boost outreach and recognition, creating a long-term source of new business.

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Roughly eight in 10 people own between one and 10 promotional items. Of those people, 53 percent use a promotional product on a weekly basis. Through repeat contact with your branded items, people become familiar with your business. 

Yet, it isn’t effective to simply flood your community with freebies featuring your logo. One in five people throws out promotional products they don’t want. Will people use your branded items on a regular basis or just toss them into a pile of unused trinkets?

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Promotional items are only valuable to you — the business owner — when they provide a return on investment. Always choose items that are useful to your customers.

People will be motivated to keep your promotional products longer, which exposes your brand to many other potential customers. You might rope in a few solid leads with a catch-all strategy, but you’re guaranteed to get positive results if promotions are tailored to your audience.

Follow these tips to choose the right promotional products for small business, so you can make every marketing dollar count.

Have a Clear Objective in Mind

Know what you want to accomplish before dipping into your marketing budget. Otherwise, you could end up wasting money on promotional items no one really wants.

What is your ideal outcome for a promotional campaign? Are you trying to increase brand recognition in your area or get people interested in a new business? Looking to acquire a few high-value customers within a specific timeframe?

Your goals should determine how much money and effort you devote to the project. Designing personalized promotional items is a smart way to target a niche market when you have high-end products or a highly refined audience.

On the other hand, simple, low-cost promotional items make sense for spreading brand awareness among a general audience. In the US alone, roughly 90% of people remember who gave them a promotional T-shirt. These products are attractive and visual, making them a great choice for reaching as many people as possible.

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Start With Popular Product Categories

In many ways, you have unlimited options for creating custom promotional products. The Coca-Cola Company once installed “happiness” vending machines around the world that gave out freebies, offered words of encouragement, and performed good deeds. 

Obviously, a small business won’t resort to such extremes, but it’s possible to create branded versions of just about any item. However, it may involve a lot of trial and error to find an out-of-the-box promotional product that delivers the results you want.

In the meantime, get inspiration from popular products that have a high rate of success across diverse customer segments. The 2016 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study revealed useful insights about promotional products people love.

58 percent of people in the US own promotional T-shirts

53 percent own promotional drinkware

50 percent own promotional bags, writing instruments, or outerwear

45 percent own promotional USB drives

41 percent own caps and headwear

41 percent own promotional desk supplies

29 percent own promotional calendars

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Choose a product that offers the most functional value to your customers. For added impact, try to go with an option that relates back to your industry. If your customers are mainly business professionals, they might find desk supplies and USB drives more useful than a shirt. 

How to Choose the Best Marketing Promotional Items

Learn Everything You Can About Your Audience

The more you understand about your customers, the easier it is to make a lasting impression that keeps your business top of mind. Factors such as age, gender, family status, and occupation play a big role in how customers view the value of promotional products.

Think about the type of people you’re targeting and the lifestyles they lead. Are you selling to consumers or businesses? Men or women? Young adults or older adults? Parents or pet owners? How about athletes? Business professionals? Skilled tradespeople? Consider these key findings from the Advertising Specialty Institute.

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Women between 18 and 24 are more likely to own bags with a logo

Rural and older adults are more likely to own promotional calendars

Younger adults between 18 and 34 own more promotional desk supplies

Suburban and rural consumers are more likely to own logoed drinkware

Men are more likely to own promotional USB drives and outerwear

While these insights are a great starting point, your personal experience with your customers is the best source of information. Pay attention to what works, and get feedback from your customers to find out which products they like to keep around.

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The best test of whether your clients or customers will be pleased with an incentive or promotional gift is your own feelings about it. If you think it's a cheesy, inexpensive bit of promotional fluff, chances are that they'll see it the exact same way.


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