Promotional Products – Beating the “Fake News”

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Fake News | Promotional Products - Beating the "Fake News"Watch the news these days there are many versions of the “truth”. And it’s not just in the worlds of politics and current affairs that people find it difficult to know what to believe anymore. The business digital world makes finding the “truth” more difficult than ever for consumers as an ever growing avalanche of data can act to conceal the facts rather make them easier to find. But recently with everyone pointing the finger and accusing each other of promoting “fake news” things seem to be more confused than ever. So can marketing companies cut through this noise and reduce the general level of cynicism about marketing offers made online in the “Fake News” era?

Allocating a proportion of your budget to custom printed products is a popular way to sidestep this growing confusion. When you’re holding something real in your hands it’s hard to avoid a subjective opinion of its practical value. People will always make an emotional judgement about the impact of something their observe and these impressions, both good and bad combine naturally to form an overall attitude towards the brand the product carries. Many forms of business communication rely on emotive impact to manipulate and control perceptions but by using branded merchandise you can create a direct connection with consumers which allows you to reduce the rising cynicism amongst consumers who can make a genuine personal judgement based on their real experience.

Consumer perceptions of your brand are critical to the success of your marketing. Around the world billions of dollars are spent every day on promotional messaging but the final outcome can often be the opposite of what was planned. Research has proven that promotional material marketing, when overlaid against more traditional forms of branding has a higher than expected likelihood of reinforcing positive perceptions. In this day of digital communication when few people who do business meet face-to-face adding your logo to something as simple to a printed pen and giving to people with whom you do business is a way of escaping the negative filters which seem to dominate so much of the online world. Think about it… how can a good quality product with genuine practical value create a negative impression with the person using it? And once your logo is added your brand can absorb some of the reflected glory.

A good example of successfully overcoming modern consumer doubts is the way many companies use custom printed products to reinforce claims of “eco-friendliness”. While many companies make bold claims about their environmentally friendly reputation there is a growing doubt about many of these claims amongst consumers. The simple expedient of providing business contacts and consumers with a promotional item which reflects brand values and is made from recycled materials is more convincing that any number of claims made in advertising. In a marketing world where bluster and misinformation is the norm by simply placing a branded item in the hands of consumers you can cut through the doubt and questions to create a genuine impression no amount of online advertising can replicate.

These days the temptation exists for all marketers to most of their advertising budget to online lead generation. Adwords budgets are easy to manage, simple to analyse and assess and can be scaled up or down in no time. But at the same time, the evidence is clear that keeping a foot in the “real” world can help to leverage additional sales and brand equity from your online exposure. The less time we spend engaging with each other and we spend staring at a screen the more effective offering your clients and business prospects a thoughtful branded gift becomes. More than ever, even in this world of “Fake News” branded products are have a lace in building and maintaining our business relationships.

The Ten Greatest Promotional Products of All Time

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article | Promotional ProductIn the 150 years since the modern era of promotional marketing began almost every class of product has been custom branded. But some products have endured better than the rest. Here we list the ten all time greatest promotional merchandise ideas based on their ongoing popularity and return on investment. In the last 20 years the way we do business has changed more than it did in the previous 130 years however these classic promotional gift ideas are still as popular as ever and to this day still comprise majority of orders placed with promotional retailers. The list from 1 to 10 is based on distributor sales volumes reported in the USA and Australia but there is some variation in the order depending on location and the time of year. Cost effective and practical, these ten promo classics continue to deliver for marketers the world over.

1. Pens

Even in this day with companies pushing towards paperless offices the classic ballpoint pen is a must have business accessory. Even with multi-application mobile phones and electronic messaging systems the first option people reach for when looking to take a quick note or write down contact details is a ballpoint pen. Their universal popularity is supported by the vast range of styles and price points on offer. Custom pens range from cheap giveaways costing less than 20 cents through to engraved gift options produced by world famous brands. People will rarely dispose of a working promotional pen so your bargain offering could hold its place for years, keeping your branding visible and your message in place.

2. Coffee Mugs

Just about everyone starts the day with a cup of their favourite hot beverage and often their emotional stability is dependent on its effect. Placed on a desk top a branded coffee mug carries unmissable branding. The right mug will become a regular part of the recipient’s day. Again, like all the most popular categories above the range of mugs available includes something for every situation and promotional opportunity. Coffee consumption continues to grow across the world and as a result promotional mugs are here to stay.

3. Bags

Promotional bags combine basic utility with high level branding and the bag you give away today at a conference filled with discussion papers and catalogues can be used tomorrow for shopping or to carry sports gear for a workout at the gym. It’s no surprise that retails hand out custom printed bags to their customers. Next time you’re in any shopping precinct have a look around at the carry bags people use to transport their purchases. The branding is unmissable and often these bags have a life after their primary use. And of course there are many styles of bags, from simple printed paper bags through to high end promotional luggage, backpacks and briefcases all of which have a specific use and share the traditional advantages of utility and high branding visibility common to all products in the category.

4. Badges & Pins

As a simple and cost effective way to display your membership and support for an organisation, or alternatively to provide a thank you gift to supporters an sponsors custom made lapel pins and badges are hard to beat. Considered jewellery items by some people and with usable lives which can surpass that of the people organising their production lapel pins are both cost effective and highly sought after. There is even an active collector community of people who trade and collect lapel pins so your design could become a cherished possession which takes pride of place.

5. Drink Bottles

The fact we all need to drink, a lot more often than we need to eat is one of the reasons promotional drink bottles have such broad appeal. Combining large scale custom branding with a low unit price the range of custom printed bottle styles available extends all the way from simple plastic sports bottles through to the latest vacuum insulated bottles. For the education industry, local sports teams and as corporate gifts to staff promotional bottles also have a green edge as they can be refilled over and over avoiding the need to buy bottled water. These eco-friendly credentials along with the unmissable branding ensure that promotional drink bottles will continue to be popular as long as humanity need hydration.

6. Wristbands

Since Lance Armstrong’s “Livestrong” initiative the humble silicone wristband has become a recognised symbol of emotional support and has since been adopted by a multitude of organisations looking to produce cost-effective giveaways and rewards for sponsors and supporters. For community organisations with a limited budget wristbands have become popular and effective fundraising items. As their popularity has grown manufacturers have come to the party and the range of styles, sizes and shapes has grown to the point now that there are enough different wristband models available that every organisation can choose a style which will represent their message.

7. Stress Balls

While some marketers view stress balls with scepticism but the reality is they are compact, fun 3D models which bring out the kid in a recipient while actually delivering a therapeutic benefit. It’s also cost effective to produce your own custom shaped stress balls and many manufacturers have found there are few better ways to make their clients aware of a new product offering than to produce a soft, #D model of their new product offering. Best of all people often keep a stress ball handy as an office mascot so your branding remains prominent

8. Confectionery

Everyone loves sweets and lollies or knows someone who does. A gift which appeals directly to the kid in all of us, promotional confectionery is the perfect low cost “thank you” gift. There are few better ways to leverage your investment in attending a convention or trade show than to hand out branded lollies at your stand. From salesmen hoping get a foot in the door, through to a small inexpensive giveaway to include with invoices which encourage prompt payment, custom branded bags of jelly beans and mints have an impact far beyond their cost.

9. Notepads

Combined with a pen there is no simpler or more widely used office item than a custom notepad. Sometimes, despite being surrounded by electronic equipment with the combined memory capacity or a public library the simple expedient of writing a quick note and leaving it in a prominent place is something no electronic device can replace. Custom printed notepads occupy a prime space on a desk and with a logo print on each page they move around the workplace with the messages they carry. There are few people in business who don’t reach for a notepad some time in each business day to scribble down a phone number or a reminder of some task that needs their attention when the time becomes available.

10. Key Chains

Key chains or “keyrings” as they are called in some regions of the Anglosphere are a practical item which have been utilised by promotional marketers for as long as promotional products have been produced. Not just a useful way to organise keys, a key chain is something people keep handy so your branding will always be kept close. In many ways the holy grail of promotional marketing is to provide people with a cost effective gift idea which will become a part of their daily activity and keyrings are a proven way to get your message into peoples’ hands for the long term.

There are hundreds of categories of promotional items. The ten listed above are in the opinion of the author then ten classic for which every marketer could potentially find a use. Tell us below what would make your list of all-time favourite promo products.