10 Steps to the Right Promo Product for Your Campaign

advertising promotional products

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If you’re looking to do a promotional product campaign, but you’re unsure how to choose the right advertising promotional product, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll be talking about a 10 step process for choosing the right promo product for your campaign.

Advertising with custom promo items stands as a form of guerilla marketing with a low cost for a high number of impressions, which is why businesses spend so much on it.  In fact, an estimated $24 billion dollars is spent annually on custom promo items, and this market is increasing exponentially as more people become aware of it’s usefulness and printing technology becomes grows in versatility. Over the last century, the promotional product industry has grown exponentially as the printing press, sublimation, and screenprinting technologies have enabled us to print advertising messages on just about anything you can think of!

Most advertisers looking for a custom promo item say they want something:

  • New
  • Different
  • Customized with their branding
  • and, printed on time…

But, there are other things to consider when choosing the right promo item for your campaign.  It’s likely that when you’re choosing a promo item, you’re doing it to get a certain outcome–whether brand awareness, more sales, or other engagement, so you’ll need to take some factors into consideration to reach your campaign goals.

advertising promotional productWhy New and Different isn’t the Problem

The worse thing you can do is to choose a custom promo item that gets you:

  • No additional sales
  • No added engagement
  • No increased brand awareness
  • and seems like a complete waste of money and time

As a result, it’s always important to choose a product based on effectiveness rather than what’s creative, “new”, or “different”.  While new and different may seem like the “cool” thing to do; when determining the right advertising promotional product, new and different doesn’t meet goals.

Creativity vs. Effectiveness

Even beyond “new” and “different”, some people get hung up on creativity when looking for an advertising promotional product.  They feel they need to use the promotion as a time to express their “creative genius”, and some go as far as hiring creative directors who are hired to keep creative ideas flowing!

Creativity can impress people, entertain, and amuse, but very rarely does it sell products. You don’t want to base your promotional product choices based on creativity because it doesn’t necessarily encourage the customer to act, it’s unpredictable, and, as a result, it may not achieve your desired outcome.

The most artistic banners, commercials, or ads may not convert, which is why it’s important to look for an effective campaign rather than a “creative” or “unique” one. What motivates a customer to act on your key performance indicators are well thought out, calculated advertising promotional product choices that take market research, knowledge of your target audience, and clear goals.  Of course, the “holy grail” of marketing is when you can merge creative genius with calculated and effective campaigns, but effectiveness has to be the priority.

What is an Effective Advertising Promotional Product?

An effective advertising promotional product choice will get you:

  • More engagement
  • More brand awareness
  • More sales

As a result, you’ll be able to calculate a direct return on investment from your purchase.  If your promotion doesn’t have a motive to drive key performance indicators closer to business goals, then it’s more of a giveaway.

advertising promotional productHow is a Giveaway Different than a Promotion?

While giving is good, you want to be intentional about your giving in business, and clear when you want your giving to be connected to a goal.  Unlike a promotion, a giveaway has:

  • No connection to business outcomes
  • No call to action
  • and, doesn’t expect reciprocation

With a giveaway, the giver is freely giving products or services without desire or concern that a personal or business-related outcome will be achieved.

The Problem with a Giveaway

The problem arises when you’ve invested in custom promo items in hopes that giving them away would drive more business for you, and the results of that are sub par.  In these instances, you’d think that giving custom promo items doesn’t work, but in fact, promotional product advertising works very well.

4 Questions that will help you choose the Right Promotional Advertising Product

To ensure your promotion is successful, there are a few questions I recommend you answering.  The results of answering these questions will help you to begin brainstorming on an effective advertising promotional product to achieve your goals…

advertising promotional products1. Who is the end user?

You may have heard of the term “target audience”.  Your target audience are the people who may be interested in buying your product or service.  You should try identifying them by demographics and psychographics.  Try asking yourself questions like:

These questions will begin to help you specify who your end user may be, so you can get the highest return from your investment.  For example, if you’re a pizza company, you might think your product is for everyone until you start brainstorming about the people who will not buy your pizza.

It’s likely that a person who has a dairy allergy, wheat allergy, egg allergy, or who simply doesn’t like the taste of pizza would not buy from you, so if you’re spending your marketing budget on sending them marketing materials, you could be wasting your money.  Instead, you can get clearer about who your target audience is, and focus your marketing efforts on your ideal customer.

Narrowing your customer profile applies to beliefs and values as well.  If you know your product is only purchased by people with certain income levels or spending habits, you’d want to take note of that as well.  If a person is only willing to pay $3 for pizza, and you charge $15, they may not be a good fit as a target.

2. Where is the end user most likely to be when they need your products or services most?

One key that opens doors for increased business success is collaboration.  As long as your ideal customer isn’t a newborn, it’s likely they’re roaming somewhere on this Earth, but where?

Companies like emergency car repair companies and collision companies have taken advantage of leverage by collaborating with insurance companies because they know their end user is likely to be calling the insurance company when they need their services most.  Similarly, my local hospital takes advantage of leverage by sending marketing materials to local clinics, so if they need to refer services out, the hospital is top-of-mind.  Custom promo items like magnets, business cards, pens, or notepads are given out to local clinics so their information stays on hand.

Similar to the car companies and hospitals, you need to think about where your customer might be when they’re desperate for your product or service.  Are they online? Are they offline? Are there specific vendors they buy from? What paths might they be taking when they’re most desperately in need of your product or service?

advertising promotional product3. What product would be most useful when the end user is most desperately in need?

Dentists give out toothbrushes, information companies give out books, training companies give out courses, and the list goes on and on.  When your customer is most in need of your solutions, what products might be most useful for them?

One very neat campaign I saw was a car raffle done by a dealership.  To initiate the contest, the dealership bought custom keychains, and placed a key on it.  They said “only one key works”, and each keychain recipient was asked to come to the dealership to see if their key worked.  The winner walked away with a free car.

Of course, a person looking for a new car needs keys and a way to keep up with them.  The dealership took their insight about their list, created lots of hype, and managed to get lots of traffic and sales simply by:

  • Sending out custom promo items to a warm list of prospects with an identified need
  • Creating a time-sensitive opportunity
  • Incentivizing a visit to the dealership and a look at the car
  • and connecting people (even those who didn’t win) to a new car

For you, you may not want to do a campaign like that, but you do want to take the golden nuggets from that example.  Think about what products your customer may need most when their coming to buy from you.  It may be as simple as custom folders, so they can keep the paperwork you give them organized.  Studies show customer keep promo items that are useful much longer than others, therefore, you want to prioritize usability.

4. What do you want the recipients to do when they receive your item?

Do you want the customer to give you detailed contact information?

Do you want like, shares, or comments on your blog post?

Do you want sales?

Do you want to keep key employees?

or, do you want referrals?

There are so many goals you can spike with custom promo items, but you want to be clear about what actions you want the customer to take and tie your promotion to an action.  Some potential actions could include…

Motivating towards an Incentive

You can say “For a limited time, I’m giving (a specified advertising promotional product) to customers who spend (a specified amount of money)”.  When custom promo items are used to encourage behaviors, it can be very effective.  It can translate into higher conversion rates, higher revenue, and low cost.

Premium only given to Reward Action

Once you’re getting some traffic and you initiate a promotion, it can help to catapult the results you have to new echelons of success when you reward action-takers with a premium.  For example, “When you share this blog post with 5 of your friends, I’ll send you (custom promo product)”, or, “When you sign up for premium membership, I’ll send you…”.

Serve as a Form of Recognition

Who doesn’t like to hear, “Job well done”?  In fact, in recent surveys, 58% of employees responded saying employers can improve employee recognition to increase engagement and performance.  Custom promo items serve as a great tool to boost morale and maintain a competitive and vibrant employee culture, which is why $100 billion is spent annually on employee incentive programs.

Final Words on The 10 Steps to Choose the Right Advertising Promotional Product

The goal of this article was to show steps you can take to choose the right advertising promotional product. I want you to be able to take this content and drive your key performance indicators thru the roof with custom promotional products.

If you have questions or concerns about this, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.  I’d love to help you out!  If you need help choosing the perfect product for your advertising campaign, you need help choosing the best value supplier, or you simply want an expert in your corner to ensure high ROIs.

If you would like to grow your business, check out my free e-course. It’s a framework to grow your business: from idea to enterprise. Check out the free e-course here.

Now, it’s Your Turn…

Have you tried promotional product advertising before?  What custom promo items have you used? Have you seen custom promo items used for advertising before? What takeaways did you take from this article that can help you get better results choosing an advertising promotional product?  Leave your comments and questions below!

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6 thoughts on “10 Steps to the Right Promo Product for Your Campaign”

  1. Hey Tiffany,

    I do a lot of promos and sometimes Giveaways too when I have a sponsor for my event but over time, people stopped spending much on promos because they expect to join the giveaways. It’s frustrating to know that people do not want to spend because they expect free stuff and the next time I wanted to do a giveaway, I have to think twice. Does it happen often?

  2. Hey Tiffany:

    You’re right.  Finding the right advertising promo product takes a lot of thought and, more importantly, knowledge about your clients as well as an understanding of the goals you have for your business.  Many promo products just don’t take you where you want to go.  The good part is that making a right, well-timed choice of product might.

  3. Another great post loaded with valuable information!!

    I have often heard the benefit of giving out “freebies” but I never thought of using the same method (sort of) by using promotional products.  This post has flooded my brain with different ideas that I can use on my on site and other sides as well.

    Another benefit of giving out promotional products is that it’s a tax deduction as well – and who does’t love tax deductions? 🙂

    I also love your idea of enticing customers to buy by offering a promotional discount or gift after they’ve made a purchases of X.  I know we see these types of marketing tricks all the time, but I know I personally don’t really pay that much attention to them on thinking how I can use that idea for my own business.  I definitely need to be more conscience of the marketing ideas I come across daily.

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