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Getting Your Message Across with Promotional Products

Promotional gifts, also known as promotional ad specialties, allow you to get your company's message across on T-shirts, calendars, or even fine crystal, and your next promotion will make a lasting impression. This article describes critical issues, how to use imprinted products effectively.

INTRODUCTION
One of the most enduring tactics in the marketer's bag is imprinting a logo or message on a promotional gift.
USES FOR PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS
The range of products that can be imprinted for promotional purposes seems infinite. At the low end are ballpoint pens, T-shirts, and calendars. The high end typically includes such items as golf gifts, crystal bowls, fine china. Think of an item, and someone can probably put your logo on it. The various uses for imprinted promotional gifts is almost as broad. They're used as giveaways at trade shows and other events, on-pack and in-pack premiums, container premiums, mail-in premiums, door-openers, dealer-loaders, sales incentives, business gifts, contest prizes, direct-mail premiums, and awards. When the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) surveyed distributors in 1997, for the first time the survey measured distributor sales by the type of program using the promotional products. Business gifts topped the list at 20%, followed by employee relations and events at 12.2%, trade shows at 8.7%, and public relations at 8.5%.

EFFECTIVENESS
In 1994, Baylor University studied Mary Kay Cosmetics and American Income Life, two companies that had attempted to determine the value of using imprinted products as gifts to stimulate referrals from current customers. In both cases, customers who received moderately priced gifts bearing the company's logo had higher referral rates than those that didn't (22.3 percent higher for Mary Kay, 24.1 percent higher for American Income Life).

CRITICAL ISSUES
To get those kinds of results from a promotion using promotional gifts, it will help to follow these guidelines:
Determine overall goals. Promotional products can be used for almost all types of motivation. Some questions you need to ask are: What kind of response am I looking for? At what point will the response justify the budget? What are all the product options? Target your audience and determine the scope of the promotion.

FINE POINTS
Excellent strategies for using promotional products are detailed in the Sales Promotion Handbook published by Dartnell Corp (312-561-4000). The chapter on specialty promotions, written by Richard Ebel of PPAI, was excerpted in the May 1995 issue of Potentials. Here are some highlights:

Contingency fulfillment. A recipient receives only a part of the promotional item, (example: one half of a walkie-talkie set) and must show up in person or mail something in to receive the rest. Peer approval. Example:Top performers in a sales team are given special recognition awards and trophies, raising their esteem among co-workers.

Etching and engraving. Etching, which is done with chemicals, and engraving both entail cutting into such materials as glass, metal, or wood to achieve a luxurious, textured image. Make sure you have an experienced vendor, because poor workmanship in these two crafts can be all too obvious. Costs depend on the depth and area of the etching or engraving.

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