Why Use Promotional Items In Your Lead Generation and Marketing Efforts?

promotional-productsAdvertisers spent over $17 billion in the year 2000 on professional promotional products, according to statistics from the Promotional Products Association (PPA).

Why are these marketing tools so popular? Promotional products, unlike other forms of advertising, especially radio and television where announcements are over in seconds or minutes, have an opportunity for much longer life with the client. And businesses concentrate sales efforts with the wide variety of products out in the marketing arena today in these areas:

  • To announce the opening of new branch offices, divisions, locations
  • For Branding
  • To attract leads / introduce products
  • As a kindness / goodwill gesture
  • To attract & increase attendance at events like trade shows & job fairs
  • To introduce new and enhanced products or services
  • To help employees increase sales
  • To increase sales – Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer

Although there is no quick method of determining the length of exposure for each promotional product, once it falls into your clients’ hand, there is plenty of other information we can tell from research studies.

Three Dimensional Packaging:

For example, research studies show that including promotional materials increase direct mail response rates significantly. For example, in a 1993 study by Baylor University, 3,000 school administrators were divided into three groups and each group received one of the following:

A sales letter, sales collateral (brochures, fact sheets, etc.) and a business response card, postage-paid – all in an envelope.
Contents of #1 above and a promotional item.
All of the contents of #2 but packaged in a slotted box, not an envelope.

The results showed that:

  • Subjects who received #3, a dimensional package, responded at a 57% higher rate than those who received #2 or the same contents in an envelope.
  • Subjects who received #3 responded at a 75% higher rate than those who received #1, with no promotional item.

Did dimensional packaging and promotional items help? You bet! And DRAMATICALLY!

Let’s take a look at other ways to increase direct mail response rates with promotional products.

Other Promotional Sales Tools!

Follow Up / Multiple Sales: Ever hear of that phrase, “You reap what you sow?” Or how about a favorite saying of Zig Ziglar, famous motivational speaker, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

Well here is what can happen when you give, as in promotional product. You receive, as in income. You see not only do satisfied customers generally return to purchase again, they tend to spend even more money than they did the first time when you use Direct Mail Programs that include Promotional Products. And here’s proof.

Southern Methodist University (SMU) conducted studies with direct mail and promotional products with about 900 residential and business customers. Items varied as to what each recipient received with their letter; a promotional product, a coupon or nothing. And here are the results:

Promotional products in mailings resulted in reorders up to 18% sooner than those with coupon mailings and up to 13% sooner than the letter-only campaign.

  • Promotional product recipients ordered up to 18% more than those with coupons and up to 13% more than the letter-only recipients.
  • Promotional product recipients spent 27% more than coupon recipients, and 139% more than the letter-only receivers.

Those who received promotional products were 49% more likely to return and purchase again than those who received coupons and 75% more likely than the letter-only recipients.

The bottom line? Don’t sell your customer short, in other words. Customers who do receive promotional products tend to spend more money and tend to frequent establishments than often than those who do not receive promotional products.

Awards & Incentive Programs for Employees: Bonus programs. Award certificates. Sales incentives. We’ve heard those buzz words for goal setting in companies. But let’s take a closer look.

Are the goals reachable? Are workers earning anything? How about anything of value?

Sure you might THINK you’re giving away those valuable company logo pens worth $1.99 each. But what does the employee think? Would YOU want one of those at the end of your hard-working day? Would that drive you to put forth more effort tomorrow?

Maybe there’s a trip to Paradise Island up for grabs. Do all employees have an equal opportunity to try and win? IS the contest “winnable?” Hmmm….

Let’s take a look at dangling the carrot in front of the horse techniques. At first the horse wants that carrot and keeps trying, right? But how about long term? A horse may keep trying but how about a human? Forget it. If the goal is not obtainable, there is no drive to succeed. So a creative program needs to be in place that will encourage workers to go out and sell.

A Baylor University study reported that employees do like awards, are motivated, will work hard for them and will also encourage fellow employees in the process.

Moreover, the study found that contests in which promotional products were routinely handed out during the program were up to 50% more cost-effective and achieved better performance results than “non-stimulated contests.” However, sometimes these incentive plans fail. And the top two reasons for failure were: first, that only managers were involved in the planning process, not the employees, and second, loss of interested was reported by employees due to lack of timely feedback.

So not only are employee awards and incentive programs important for increasing performance, resulting in increased sales, the programs need to have employee participation in the planning stages. And prompt feedback is a must!

Direct Mail: Promotional products added to sales letter campaigns also increase the closing ratio for sales leads. In fact, they not only act as incentives for customers to act, they increase direct mail response rates.

Check out the results of a direct mail conducted with more than 1,400 businesses by Silver Marketing Group in which each of three groups received one of the following; a sales letter, a sales letter with a promotional item or a sales letter with a promotional incentive offer:

Promotional items included in mail campaigns increased response rates by 50%.

  • When using promotional items as incentives to respond, four times as many people replied as they did with only a sales letter.
  • When using promotional items as incentives to respond, cost-per-response was reduced by 66%.

So make a difference with your next direct mail campaign. Increase response rates and ultimately sales – the bottom line – with promotional products.

Trade Shows: Remember the last trade show you attended? What was memorable? Ever have a scenario similar to this take place afterwards:

You return to work after the trade show. Days, sometimes weeks later, you need information about an exhibit that caught your eye. Maybe your boss or a colleague or even a client needs this information for help with a project. But you cannot recall who the company was or find their brochure or business card. Hmmm…scratching your head with the end of your pen trying to recall their name, you perchance glance at the pen in your hand. Wow! It has their company logo and website address on it – – eureka! Look no more. You rush to the computer, enter the URL and call the local area representative.

Thank You Cards can enhance a thank you and create opportunities you won’t believe (the ones below are by Brian Maroevich and can be found on Amazon).


Unique Thank You Cards With Million Dollar Bills by Brian Maroevich.

Not only do these promotional items increase sales opportunities, they also offer advantages at events over other exhibitors. For instance, in research by Exhibit Survey Inc., where an exhibitor invited more than 4,500 people to his booth with a letter describing anywhere from zero to three gifts the each would receive for their attendance, check out the results:

More people showed up at the trade show whose letters said they’d receive a gift than those whose letters did not mention any gift at all.

The highest number of people came whose letter promised a “gift set” – in this case a coaster with matching coffee mug, each given at different times during the event. Actually 61% more people from this group attended the show than from groups receiving individual promotional items, and an even greater percentage over people who were to receive nothing.

This “gift set” also increased the long-term effects of the event. In a variety of studies, from 37% to 304% of the attendees had good feelings about the company who gave them the “gift set” and remembered receiving the invitation more often than those who received individual items or nothing at all.

Bottom line: make your trade shows worthwhile. Use promotional products to increase customer traffic and sales.

Seasonal & Promotional Ad Campaigns: Do you plan ahead? Or fail to plan? Another way to increase response rates and ultimately customer sales is by coordinating timely seasonal and promotion advertising campaigns ahead of time. Look a year ahead, or three to five if you can.

People like to open mail and get a free surprise – – especially on birthdays and holidays. Sure those birthday cards form insurance agents may seem silly, but how many do you see at people’s home and places of business? Lots!! Better NOT be the person who’s agent doesn’t send them! Boy, would you be lost in the crowd.

Same thing at Christmas. Company Christmas cards may seem like an outdated idea, but wait until they stop coming. What do you decorate with? What cards do you have for your office and entryway? Where are those “warm feelings” for the businesses you THOUGHT you had relationships with?

Think back on last Christmas. Aren’t the companies who gave free promotional items like candy and nuts packaged and wrapped in company tins more memorable than those who didn’t even send a card?

And check out refrigerators not only in home offices but business break rooms. Any magnets? Any room WITHOUT magnets? How about tossing a company magnet in for a Happy Spring campaign next year or to kick off that next new product?

Or how about creating a Membership Program. Distribute business cards with 6 circles that can be hole-punched, one after each purchase. When all 6 are punched, award the customer with a free gift.

Or how about hosting your own Memorabilia Collection. Start selling only a certain number of one specially packaged product. Limit purchases and give an expiration date. Then repackage the product.

Or how about offering incentives and awarding promotional items to participants – – to customers and to sales people? For example, maybe after 12 products are purchased, a certificate for something free can be won by both parties: the sales person and the customer.

As an FYI (for your information), if you could divide all of the thousands of promotional products out there (balloons, ball caps, pens, note pads, calendars, etc.) into four major categories, here is what they would be:

  • Imprinted items that are given away for free; I.E. advertising specialties.
  • Imprinted items that are sold at cost; I.E. loss leaders.
  • Imprinted items that are given as incentives; I.E. premiums.
  • Awards, commemoratives, business gifts.

And the good thing about planning ahead means you can take advantage of after-season sales. For example, purchase Christmas cards at a discount in January for next year. Same thing for Independence Day; pick up red, white and blue marketing materials like stationary for your sales letters at the end of July for next year.

Plan ahead and search around for specials that will fit into your marketing budget in the months (and years) ahead.

Referrals: How about referrals? Promotional opportunities are there, too. In fact, employee, client and all referrals increase with the use of Promotional Products.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out a Baylor University study conducted with some Mary Kay beauty consultants. Half gave out promotional gifts to their customers; the other half gave nothing. Check out what happened when all of the consultants asked for referrals:

  • Those who received gifts gave referrals an average of 14% of the time more.
  • The consultants who gave the gifts received 22% more referrals than those who gave zilch.
  • 40% of the consultants who gave gifts reported their customers’ satisfaction at having received a gift.

So don’t overlook this source for additional income. Promotional products as gifts can definitely increase your referrals.

Sharing / Giving Back: Intangible rewards like “goodwill” is also a benefit of promotional products in your marketing campaigns. So share or give promotional items away accordingly. Company goodies can help promote good relationships not only between staff members but also the guests / customers.

People like the word “FREE.” People like gifts. And research studies show that “goodwill” gestures not only bring customers back for additional purchases, they bring in customers’ referrals, too.

Researchers at Baylor University reported that customers given promotional products expressed more “goodwill” than those who received nothing. The more valuable the gift, the higher the praise, too. Of course the object is not “to buy” a customer, but simply to share.

In conclusion, when you’re working on your marketing projects, don’t overlook the many ways promotional products can be of service: both to you and your customers. Include products in your marketing campaign and increase your sales, your customer satisfaction and your income.

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