If you are like most people, there are promotional items scattered around your home. These items have been a staple of business and personal promotion for hundreds of years. Personal promotion in America goes back to political buttons in George Washington’s Presidential Inauguration in 1789 and beyond. Business promotion goes back nearly as far and continues today.

Why do businesses give away promotional items and what decisions are made as to how effective one item may be over another? Why would one business get more exposure with a promotional t-shirt giveaway while another may do better with an online order of custom reflective stickers to distribute with every customer shipment? What are some of the other popular options available today?

Different Items for Different Groups of People

Mass marketing is effective when your brand is in front of as many eyes as possible. A company owner at a trade show who wants to make sure all attendees know the name of their company is going to emboss it where it will get the most visibility. A tote bag that is given to each attendee, with the company name, guarantees that everyone they pass sees the logo.

Not all marketing is for the masses. Some businesses focus their efforts on a narrow group of prospects. Promotional items for this group may highlight the core skills of the business. They may want to give them a USB flash drive, a phone accessory or something that demonstrates the emphasis the company places on technology.

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Promotional marketing is also driven by whether the customer is business or residential. The refrigerator magnet is a great marketing tool. The magnets are often put to good use, holding papers and pictures on the fridge. The business owner knows that when the resident needs their service they will have the number right in front of them.

Functional promotional items are things you can put to use. Examples include having your logo stamped on a pair of scissors or promotional t-shirts and hats. Companies that offer solutions to the grief customers feel when faced with a problem may give away stress balls, flashlights or something else that someone may need in a pinch.

Marketing plan

Questions to Ask Before Launching a Promotion

1. Who is the target audience?

People that are looking to the company for a specific reason or mass-marketing to whoever can be turned into a prospect?

2. What is the purpose?

Some promotional campaigns are solely focused on retaining existing customers. Defining this may save both time and money.

3. Who wants what I want to give them?

Will the intended audience use what is given to them or will it wind up in a drawer somewhere, never to be seen again?

4. Does this fit with the overall branding?

Should a microbrewery that only sells bottled beer give away a bottle opener or a beer koozie can cooler?

5. How involved will shipping and handling be?

Think about costs and who is going to ship the items before picking a product.

6. What is the follow-up plan?

Does the product tie into your overall marketing plan and what follow-up steps will you take?

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Having promotional items and managing a campaign can be fun and rewarding. It takes a good deal of thought and effort to accomplish but the results can be impressive. From the selection of what items to include, to follow-up, a well-run promotion may lead to significant growth and additional long-term customers.