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Get the best ROI from your promotional merchandise

Posted in Editors Column on Tue 23 Apr 2013

Here at Promotional Merchandise we want to challenge the idea that promotional products should be an add-on or an afterthought in marketing campaigns. Even with the extensive research proving the effectiveness of promotional merchandise as an advertising medium, many people still do not recognise its worth and will not give promotional products the time and attention needed to make a successful campaign.

I am a strong believer in the old saying that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. When you are expecting a return on investment from your promotional products, this is especially true. Just like in any other area of marketing, minimal thought and effort will likely produce minimal success.

If your promotional merchandise campaign is falling short of its potential ROI this may be due to a lack of planning and too little time allotted for the development. The best campaigns are those where the product is on the agenda from the first meeting, where research has been carried out into the target audience and where the purpose of the campaign has been taken into consideration in order to choose the right product.

Once you know your audience and have a good idea of the type of products and the branding you require this is the time to collaborate with the suppliers, share ideas and work together to ensure that the product is attractive, cost effective and will achieve the results you require. It is never too early to start this process. More time means more room for creativity and less spend, as suppliers can keep the production costs down when given a long lead time.

Let me give you an example of a really well thought out marketing campaign which utilised a promotional product effectively. I read this article on LinkedIn and had to share it with you:

“I received, in the mail, a big gift-wrapped pink-box. Inside the box was a pink salad bowl, a VIP membership card, and a letter. The sender, a New York City healthy salad-to-go restaurant chain called Just Salad, apparently had just awarded me with number 17 of a total 100 limited edition VIP Pink Bowls.

“I was excited, of course, and read the letter, which informed me that my loyalty had earned me the Pink Bowl. More important, the letter informed me that I could now enjoy line-skipping privileges, free toppings and other perks, as long as I brought in my Pink Bowl.

“Well, obviously I knew where I had to have lunch that day. As I walked into the always-crowded Just Salad with my Pink Bowl, I immediately felt like a VIP. I walked past a line of about 40 people, several of which were literally ooh-ing and ah-ing at my Pink Bowl as I walked. I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea with my Pink Bowl.

“Apparently, Just Salad has done some promotion around this Pink Bowl campaign. Anyway, I approached the counter, and heard the staffer say "Wow, this is the first Pink Bowl customer I've had!" I got my free chicken topping, and I was soon on my way. When I got back to the office, within a few minutes, 30 people at Likeable had heard the story. It soon appeared on Twitter and Facebook. Now it’s here. I had an amazing experience with my Pink Bowl. Guess where I had lunch the next day? And the day after that? For the cost of a bowl, shipping, and a free topping, ($20?) the small business reached thousands of customers and prospects.

“I’ve been a regular Just Salad customer for a while now, and frankly, I’m not sure whether I got the Pink Bowl because of my loyalty or my influence. But I can tell you this: Just Salad’s Pink Bowl campaign to me and others is a reminder of the timeless formula of word of mouth marketing success.”

You can read the full story here:

This is a perfect example of a campaign that has used promotional merchandise effectively. The company not only chose a product that represented their business but they tied it in with a promotion that would reward their existing customers and create positive word of mouth marketing to attract new customers.

So, next time your company decides on a new marketing campaign, make sure that promotional products are on the top of the agenda.

Lauren Cayless White

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