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Why would any business or organisation spend good money on promotional merchandise?

You know the kind of stuff … a range of products, like mugs, T-shirts and pens, often branded with a logo or slogan, used in Marketing or Communication programmes. They may be given away to promote a company or organisation’s corporate image, brand or event at trade shows, conferences, by direct mail or as part of guerrilla marketing campaigns.

So, why would any business or organisation spend good money on promotional merchandise?

They probably wouldn’t if it didn’t form part of their marketing plan …. and shouldn’t if they don’t even have a plan. Use of branded merchandise won’t suit every organisation or situation. However, any business wanting to create impact and deliver a permanent message about their brand can harness the power of promotional merchandise.    Whether you want to gain or retain customers, this could be a different way to appeal.

We live in changing times …

Promotional products are one form of advertising that people are happy to accept, in some cases even going out of their way to get. We live in an age of ad’ blocking, where people avoid exposure to advertisements. How many of us watch a tv programme on demand and fast forward through the commercial breaks? Even Google has announced it aims to block “bad advertising”. Consumers no longer enjoy advertising unless it’s relevant, it resonates with them and is easy to engage with. Promotional products are seen as a way to achieve this.

Promotional merchandise feature amongst a range of products with haptic or sensory qualities. The ability to engage the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, as promotional products variously can, adds to the overall experience and, in turn, adds to the effectiveness of promoting your brand or message.

Millennials are emerging as the predominant buying generation. Particularly in B2B sales, we will increasingly be engaging with these young twenty and thirty something buyers. In recent research*, Millennials ranked promotional products as the most effective advertising channel to provide an incentive to act. A wider consumer survey* shows that promo products leave recipients feeling more appreciated, with a greater sense of loyalty and more likely to take action compared to other media.

In a separate B2B survey*, 94% of business recipients remember the advertiser even after 6 months, 2/3 keep a product for over 6 months whilst 44% keep a product over 12 months, and 39% were more likely to buy from a supplier who had given them a promotional gift.

Just why are promotional products so effective?

I believe it’s because they impact their recipients are different levels.

At a logical or practical level, promo products are tangible items with a durable quality. They have a perceived value that makes people want to keep and use them. Branded with a logo or message, they form an enduring reminder of the giver, helping to build familiarity with the brand, leading to a sense of knowing.

At an emotional level, everyone likes to receive a gift. It gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling of appreciation, makes us feel happy and like the giver.

At a psychological level, the sense of appreciation is built on and helps develop loyalty. Receiving a gift develops a social obligation. Linked to the Law of Reciprocation, they encourage us to want to give back. And giving promo products helps build affective trust, the aspect of trust that grows out of feeling safe, valued and cared for.

So, promotional products build on the know, like and trust that is so important in business relationships. And branded merchandise is one of the most effective ways to get noticed and remembered, longer! But their use is only effective as part of a strategic marketing plan. So get planning … and bear this in mind!

*Credit to PPAI and BPMA for some aspects of content and research findings.

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