SalesTech Star

Expecting Sluggish Sales? Try Marketing with Promotional Products

As state and local governments force businesses to shut down due to the COVID-19 virus, many businesses will feel the pinch. Business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers will be forced to cut budgets and tighten the belt. I’ve been in the marketing and advertising business for 30 years and one thing I’ve learned is that when there’s an economic downturn, one of the first budgets to get cut is marketing. While this may be a necessity, I’d like to propose an idea to you. Whatever marketing money you have left, shift some of it to promotional products. They deliver a big bang for the marketing buck by allowing you to leverage your time and money.

Read More: How Much Omnichannel Is Right For Your Business?

Over the years, I’ve had many conversations with new customers about promotional products. If I could sum up these conversations, the customer wants to know 3 things:

  1. Why should I buy promotional products?
  2. Which promotional products should I buy?
  3. How can I use them effectively?

Promotional products are one of the oldest marketing mediums dating back to the times of George Washington and they are still viable today. Why has this medium lasted so long? The answer is simple: recipients love receiving promotional products and they use them in their day to day lives. Promotional products are the only marketing medium that recipients will say “thank you” as they are exposed to your marketing message. What’s even better, once that item is distributed to your target market, the message is seen over and over without interruption and without any additional effort or cost to you, the advertiser. After you distribute that imprinted pen, bag, lip balm, hand sanitizer, jar opener or whatever, your job is done. That item will do its job displaying your marketing message without fail and you won’t have to keep paying for each marketing impression. What’s more, it’s impossible to “unsubscribe” the message on a pen, it’s impossible to click “skip ad” on the message on a coffee mug or “mute” the message on an imprinted shirt. Talk about efficient marketing!

There are approximately 800,000 promotional products available but choosing the right promo item comes down to just 2 criteria:

  1. Your target market.
  2. Your distribution method.

Very often, customers get hung up on wanting the “latest and greatest” item. In my experience, this isn’t that important. Choosing an item that your target market will like and use is significant. This is why I counsel my clients to choose items that are often found on the recipient’s person, in their kitchen or in their workspace. Do you wear shirts or caps with logos on them? Do you keep a lip balm in your purse or pocket? Do you have magnets on your fridge or chip clips in your cupboard? How about custom printed sticky notes and notepads – do you see them in your workspace? Promotional products are everywhere and distributing useful items that recipients will keep with them, use in their kitchen or use in their workspace will increase the likelihood that your message is seen repeatedly.

Read More: Best Ways to Increase Inbound Leads

You could have the most incredible promo item every created but if you don’t have a plan to distribute it, you’ve wasted your money. On the flip-side, you could distribute the most mundane product and it will do its job because it’s reaching your target market. There are 3 ways to distribute promotional products:


  1. You can mail them out.
  2. You can hand them out.
  3. You can leave them out.

If you go to your mailbox today and find that you received a box, would you open it? Of course, you would. Lumpy mail almost always gets opened. Mailing or shipping promotional products is the most expensive form of distribution but you’re nearly 100% guaranteed that your message will be received.

Taking an active role in handing out your items is effective, too. If you ordered imprinted pens, you could hand them to servers at restaurants or cashiers in retail businesses. Bring those pens wherever you go and hand them to whomever will take one. It’s really that simple.

Lastly, you can leave them out for recipients to take. The post office I frequent has a cup on the counter filled with pens. Also, many of my customers order calendars that they keep on the counters at their place of business and their customers take them as they leave.

Promotional products are the only marketing medium that will continue to deliver your marketing message long after you pay for them and this can help you get through tough times. Choose items that your target market likes and uses and have a plan to distribute them. The recipients will love receiving the free stuff and your message will be seen so many times that your cost per impression will become almost zero.

Read More: Finance Marketers Need These Three Things in Their Mobile Strategy