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The Cultural Clout of Promotional Products

Dating from a commemorative button produced in 1789 to celebrate the election of George Washington, promotional products are one of the world's oldest forms of advertising. Judging by their use today – American businesses spend about $20 billion a year on giveaways bearing their logos – they are also among its most effective. Why this is is debatable, but research suggests that the reason promotional products work so well is that they activate our ancient need to respond when given something for free. Sociologists and anthropologists have found that there is not a single society in the world that doesn’t train its people from childhood to honor this rule of reciprocity. Individuals are taught that giving something back after receiving a favor is a social obligation. Those who fail to reciprocate risk being shunned by the community.

Interestingly, this powerful, hard-wired motivation is not reserved for important occasions. It can be triggered by seemingly trivial stimuli. Take, for example, the case of a well-known nonprofit group that averaged an 18% response rate when soliciting contributions with a straightforward direct mail campaign. When the same package was sent with inexpensive personalized address labels, the response rate went up to 35%! For the small cost of the address labels, they almost doubled their return.

The following statistical facts compiled by Sage blogger Jason Manfredi support the positive traction promotional products have with most of us:

  • Eight in 10 consumers own between one and 10 promotional products.

  • Fifty-three percent of these people use a promotional product at least once a week.

  • Six in 10 of them keep promotional products for up to two years.

  • Only one in five people will trash an unwanted promotional product.

  • Before receiving a promotional product, 55 percent of people had done business with the advertiser. After receiving a promotional product, 85 percent of people did business with the advertiser.

  • Eighty-nine percent of consumers can recall the advertiser of a promotional product they’d received in the last two years.

  • Ninety-one percent of consumers have at least one promotional product in their kitchen, 74 percent have at least one in their workspace, 55 percent have at least one in their bedroom.

See Jason's complete promotional product fact list

1•2•1 MSG Can Help Your Promotional Product Effort from the Ground Up!

Whether you're an experienced marketer or are considering a promotional product for the first time, we'd like to help you take advantage of the built-in power of the medium. For all the reasons listed above, it's a great way to enhance your brand. 1•2•1 MSG's Branded Ad Specialities services can help smooth the procurement, production and implemenation of your product. Our long experience sourcing, personalizing, packaging and shipping promotional products gives our clients a leg up in what can be a difficult undertaking. We can help simplify any part of the task including locating suitable items, recommending reputable vendors, testing products, creating packaging solutions, modifying artwork for optimum reproduction and dealing with shipping logistics. We even have our own personalized premiums website if you'd prefer to do your own searching. Our longstanding membership in the ASI (Advertising Specialties Institute), also allows us to offer many premium and clothing items at lower than market cost.

To kick start your thinking about promotional products for your organization, here are some general observations gleaned from our experience:

  • Skip The Short-Lived. Despite bearing your logo, items that will be discarded after one or two uses aren't usually worth the effort. Make your promotional products investment something that will have a shelf life.

  • Personalize, Personalize, Personalize. Company logos are great, but customers really like and will keep items that have their names on them. The cost per item may be slightly higher, but the product's longevity will pay in the long run.

  • Where Will It Live? Give some thought to where your target audience will use your item. If it's nearby when they're making a decision about using your product or service, it will be that much more effective. Office items are always good choices, but don't rule out non-traditional work environments. For example, mobile phone and recreational accessories may actually be more effective than desk itmes for some audiences.

  • Highlight Your Difference Materially. Attach your logo / message to an item that plays on your target audience's imagination. A simple example of this idea is an umbrella sent to insurance salespeople. It demonstrates a good-natured awareness of their business as well as being useful. The creation of a subconsious positive connection like this is well worth additional cost.

Whether you've got firm ideas or are still in research mode, we'd be delighted to discuss promotional products with you. Contact us today!

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