Profiting from promotional products

Follow these steps to market your business

Troy Nalls, president of Answer Austin Inc., an Austin, Texas, voice-mail service, likes to give away T-shirts with his company’s logo. The perception, Nalls claims, is that his small company is as large as the big guys.

He spends $500 per month on promotional products like T-shirts, mugs, letter openers and coasters. “A lot of people tell me they have a coaster sitting next to their computer, and when they hear of someone who needs my services, they tell them to call me. I’m right in front of them every day.”

Like Nalls, entrepreneurs can successfully use promotional products–giveaways that usually carry a company logo or message-to boost their bottom line. “The benefit of using strategically thought-out promotional products is that it gives the customer a certain ‘feeling’ about your company’s products or services,” says Bennie F. Giles III, president of Creative Advertising Techniques Inc., in New Rochelle, New York, which has been distributing promotional products since 1988.

“Most people have no idea of the depth of this industry and the impact it has in terms of advertising and marketing,” says Giles. In 1997, Americans spent $11.9 billion on promotional products, strong evidence that they have become an intricate part of many businesses’ strategy for growth.

Promotional-products counselors like Giles, who have earned professional designations of Certified or Master Advertising Specialist (CAS or MAS), suggest you launch a successful campaign by following these guidelines:

  • Define a specific objective. Are you trying to generate traffic at a trade show? Increase sales leads or introduce a new product? Who is your primary audience? How much do you want to spend? Knowing the answers will dictate the types of promotional products used and how they’re distributed.
  • Select promotional items that truly relate to your product/service. Trendy or expensive items are useless if they don’t relay what you’re trying to sell. Do you fix computers? Mouse pads fit the bill.
  • Create a central theme and develop a message to support the theme. Linking a recognizable logo and color to all aspects of a campaign helps create a memorable image. The message solidifies your company’s name, service or products in the audience’s mind. Do you sell paint? A logo with a rainbow, your company’s name and the message, “We carry every color of the rainbow” is catchy.

For more information, contact Promotional Products Association International at 972-252-0404 or www.promotion-clinic.ppa.org.

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