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How Cheap Promotional Items are Killing Your Marketing

By Oh, Hello Branding Group on September, 23 2019
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    Oh, Hello Branding Group

    Pens that break apart minutes after leaving a trade show booth, can koozies that are ripping at the seams, paper-thin tote bags and other throwaway promotional products are useless and burn through your marketing budget.

    Every year, millions of dollars are spent from marketing budgets on these trinkets promotional distributors push to their clients as an effective form of marketing only to be tossed out before the items even get back to the office. These items are so plentiful and unwanted that Goodwill won't even accept most of them! 

    If it doesn't work and is terrible for the environment, what are you to do when the data says promotional products are six times as likely to make customers feel appreciated than print, web or tv marketing? That 83% of people can name a brand that has given them a promotional product? Or that an astounding 82% of people have purchased from a company that has given them a promotional item, and over 50% believe the gift has given them the incentive to make the purchase. 

    These are some of the most powerful numbers in all of marketing, and yet we all know that the cheap pens and trinkets can't be responsible for that type of impact. Simply put, they aren't.

    Use Your Marketing Money Wisely

    The power of promotional items comes from a customer or prospect actually using the items and interacting with your brand frequently. A potential customer needs to see your brand on average seven times before they can recall your company by memory; up from five times a few years ago. Getting a spot on their desk would be great since you would hit seven times before the week is over, but that doesn't happen if your promotional item is sitting atop a rotting banana peel back at the conference center. 

    Less is more.

    The Real Cost

    You have an event coming up and will have a booth to interact with potential customers. You have a small budget of $500 and your competition that has more money to spend on marketing will be there as well. You know you have a better service, but you need to stand out to get people over to your booth. How do you make the most impact? 

    With $500 you could get 1,000 cheap pens at $.50 cents each or 50 embroidered hats for $10 each. The super cheap pens don't really bring people up to your booth and while people take them, they just throw them in their tote bag and continue walking by. Realistically, most don't make it home from the conference as they end up being left behind for housekeeping to sweep off the nightstand and toss out. Cost per impression from the pen is $.50 cents per person and total impressions are about 1,000, plus the items felt cheap and might have actually reflected badly on your brand.

    Fifty embroidered hats for $10 each. Since you can't give the hats out like candy, you decide to set up a carnival-type game of skill to get people to come over and try and win a hat. You also set a few aside to hand out to potential clients to ensure they go home feeling special. Let’s see how effective the $10 hats were versus the $.50 cent pens.

    The Return on Your Investment

    A $10 hat generates about 3,400 impressions in its lifetime. 69% of people own a promotional hat, meaning they actually keep that hat long-term. A third of men wear a promotional hat every single week. That means even though you have fewer items handed out, you generated a total of 170,000 impressions. The math works out that each impression cost is 3/10 of a penny. That means your promotion was 167times more effective than using your limited budget on cheap pens. That is the difference between the sound of pots banging together and a song by The Beatles. One is just marketing noise, and the other has a lingering effect that comes to mind again and again.

    That is why when working with someone in the promotional industry, make sure you have a marketing songwriter and not just someone who is banging together pots and pans and wasting your budget.

    Looking for a marketing songwriter? We might be able to help. Shoot us an email for a free consultation.



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