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Why Promotional Merchandise is an Underlooked Brand Marketing Strategy?


Why Promotional Merchandise is an Underlooked Brand Marketing Strategy?

Promotional merchandise isn’t always the first marketing tactic people think of when it comes to brand building and yet, if done well, it is one of the most effective and enduring. The reason for this is that, despite the advent of the digital age, the most powerful form of communication is still face to face. The physical will always trump the digital in other words.

Of course, the problem with this simple comparison is that there is no limit to the potential audience you can reach via digital channels, whereas your audience will always be limited at promotional marketing events. But brand building isn’t just a numbers game. Building a reputation means leaving an impression that travels, whether that’s through word of mouth or through digital channels.

In this way, promotional merchandise plays perfectly into our social media age by representing the launch pad of your brand building campaign; the ‘event’ or ‘thing’ which gets people talking about you in the first place. 

Promotional Merchandise and Long Term Brand Building

There are huge benefits using promotional merchandise to market your brand has over other marketing mediums. Perhaps one of the most important is to do with longevity and brand recall. Unlike more transient forms of digital and print advertising that is here today and gone tomorrow, promotional merchandise sticks around and so too does its brand building potential.

In an extensive and eye opening 2016 survey into promotional products by the Advertising Specialty Institute (which I urge you to peruse if you’re still not convinced after reading this article) 85% of respondents surveyed said they recalled the advertiser on promotional apparel merchandise and were two and a half time more likely to have a positive opinion of promotional products compared to internet marketing.

Another telling statistic from the ASI survey is how far and for how long promotional products can keep on carrying your brand. The study found that on average a promotional product is kept and used for 8 months. When the recipient is finished with the product the tendency isn’t to throw them away either. In the US and UK, the overwhelming response (63% and 67% respectively) was in fact to pass it onto someone else. Only in Mexico was this not the most common response, further highlighting the longevity or promotional marketing.

Putting Quality and Utility First

 There’s a saying that goes, ‘if a job’s not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing at all.’ This should be your mantra when it comes to promotional merchandise. There is a lot of evidence that recipients of promotional merchandise are judging them on quality. This is important as it strikes at the heart of what your promotional marketing is hoping to achieve and that’s in creating positive associations with your brand and retaining leads.

With that in mind then it’s important to invest in quality products consumers will want to wear or use. This might mean your budget doesn’t go as far but it’s better to have fewer effective promotional items that get used than a lot of poor quality items that at best get used for a day or two and at worst actually create a negative image of your brand.

From Swag Bags to USB Sticks

Deciding on the right kind of product for your promotional marketing is possibly the most important decision you’ll make. It’s important not to rush this, so proper investment of resources and time into understanding your customer and their needs is required. First and foremost in your mind should be relevancy, both to your marketing objectives and your potential customer.

Promotional swag bags have consistently been shown to be an effective promo product, as they not only allow you to emblazon your branding upon an inherently useful  and reusable object, but they also act as the perfect receptacle for all manner of other smaller promotional products.

Another thing to think about when it comes to products is utility (something I’ve already alluded to). If you want your product and associated branding to get maximum exposure through maximum reuse, then give your potential customers something they will actually use or wear.

Promotional Marketing in the Digital Age

I want to end by talking a little bit more about how promotional marketing and event marketing more generally fits in in the digital age. The concept to get your head around here is one of enablement. Social media and all your other digital channels don’t exist in digital silos, disparate and unconnected to each other, so why should your promotional marketing exist in a silo?

Digital should complement your promotional marketing by drawing attention to it, building buzz and encouraging participation. Whether it’s through email marketing and social promotion pre event or live streaming key speakers and product demonstrations during the event, digital platforms allow you to promote and capitalise on your promotional marketing better than ever before.


About the Author: Steve Hill is the Director of Bag Workshop, a leading UK supplier in promotional bags and custom branded bags. Having worked in marketing for over a decade, Steve stepped aside to found three separate companies supplying bespoke marketing products under the Wurlin Promo umbrella. You can connect with Bag Workshop on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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