10 Costly Mistakes When Buying Promotional Products

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Nearly every business, whether large or small uses some type of promotional item to giveaway to their customers.  The reason they do is because promotional products are one of the most effective forms of marketing.  Buying promotional items should be an investment that brings a return on your money and NOT an expense.  Here are the 10 most common pitfalls with businesses buying promotional products.

  1. Buying from Order Takers – The top mistake that most buyers make is going with an inexperienced company or with a company that takes no interest in helping your campaign succeed.  To elaborate further, many promotional product distributors are interested only in the sale and not the well-being of your marketing campaign success.  These distributors will gladly take your money but their customer service is lousy.  Experienced distributors know that any future repeat business from their clients hinges directly on the successes of their campaigns, so any smart distributor is going to try to help their clients in every way possible to offer any suggestions to better their marketing efforts.  Therefore, using a knowledgeable distributor will benefit you greatly with any campaign.  It doesn’t make any sense to go with a company that is just simply offering a lower price on an item if they give no service, especially if you’re just talking pennies per item.
  2. Not Developing an Objective for Your Campaign – So what are you trying to achieve with your purchase of promotional items?  Are you just going for brand awareness?  Are you actually wanting to increase sales?  Are you trying to get customer contact info for a mailing or telemarketer list?  Are you using your giveaways as thank you gifts?  Are you using the items are employee incentives?  All of these are crucial questions that need answers because you must define the target audience and define what you action you desire.  If you want to increase sales, you might want to use the item as a FREE gift with purchase.  Or if you are wanting to thank your employees for a job well done, you will want to give them a premium item that they will keep and use often.  If you are promoting brand awareness, you will want to get an item that is related to your product, brand, or service.  A promotional products consultant can help you with creative ideas and it doesn’t cost you any extra for this service.
  3. Buying Trash – You don’t go through your neighbor’s garbage can and offer to buy his garbage and then give it away to your customers, so why buy useless junk that will end up in the trash can that same day.  Don’t buy a 20 cent pen and expect people to jump up and down in excitement.  A cheap item like that is likely to skip when writing, smear, and possibly not even write at all.  Then all you have done is wasted your money and given your customers and potential customers a bad taste about your company.  They get a cheap feel about your business and associate your service and products as cheap and useless.
  4. Being Stingy – I always love this one!  I see people buying promotional products all the time, but they hoard the items in a closet and don’t give them away.  They save them for “special people” or “special occasions” that never really come.  The items stay boxed up in a closet and offer no marketing value.  You’ve spent the money on the items, so now get some use out of them.  An average promotional item is viewed by many more people than just the recipient.  Therefore, one item has a lot of marketing power to affect multiple locations. 
  5. No Contact Info – Having just your logo printed on items without contact information such as your website, address, or phone number is not usually recommended unless you are simply promoting brand awareness.  Even if you are just promoting brand awareness and not trying to get orders from this marketing item, you should still at least have your website printed on the items, unless you have National or Worldwide recognition such as Microsoft.
  6. Wrong Item for Your Target Audience– So often I get calls from people wanting specific items, but when I question them about their intentions with the items, I find out the items are completely inappropriate for the recipients.  You don’t want to have custom imprinted pocket knives and pass them out to kindergartners or give logo molded chocolate out at a diabetes seminar.  Although, these examples are extreme, this drives the point home.  Make sure you know who the recipients will be.  If most will be elderly, give out something that age group can use.  If they are a younger audience, make sure and give out something that will appeal to that generation.  This simple concept is often overlooked and should be thought about carefully.  In many instances, you may need to think about getting 2 or 3 types of items if you have a diverse crowd.
  7. Too Much Information Printed – Printing too much information on a promotional item is a no no.  Often people want to print their business name, logo, address, website, phone number, fax number, and a tag line on a pen with a 1/2 in.x 1 in. imprint area.   This of course makes no sense because with most promotional items, the imprint area is limited and the more you print, the smaller the imprint will be.  What good does the imprint do if you need a magnifying glass to see it.  Think about the pertinent info you need.  Your logo, business name, phone number, and website is usually sufficient.  Do you really need a fax number on a promotional item?  Simpler is often better.  Information overload will cause people to not read the info.
  8. No Tracking Method – Having a way to track the Return on Investment (ROI) is always a great idea with promotional products.  You can use them like a coupon and include an exclusive discount or coupon code so that you will know exactly how many people placed an order or made a purchase that was directly related to this item.  For example, bring this tote bag to the store to bag your items at checkout and receive a 5% discount.  Or have a coupon code that says 10% off your purchase on our website by using promo code TAKE10.  By doing this, you can measure results and know if this type of marketing is working for you.  In order to be successful with your campaign, there is still a lot of other planning to do such as targeting the right audience with the right product.
  9. Giving Away High Dollar Items in Bulk – I have seen several companies (the ones with plenty of money to spend) giving away premium items to anyone they see.  While premium items are very effective to giveaway to your top customers, I never recommend giving them away to just anyone.  That is the quickest way to break the bank.  Bulk items should be the lower cost items under $3.00 each. 
  10. No Advance Planning – Make sure you order early enough in advance to avoid rush charges and expedited shipping charges.  Most promotional products can take up to 2 weeks for production; however, you can get many products these days with free rush service, but you still may have to use 2-day or overnight shipping to get your items on time.  This can be avoided with a little advance planning and ordering early enough.  Why waste money on rush or expedited shipping fees?

While most of these tips may seem like no-brainers, these are common mistakes made by thousands of businesses everyday.  These simple mistakes can be avoided by using the services of a qualified and experienced promotional products distributor.  Use the expertise of these consultants to help ensure your next marketing campaign will be the most successful one ever.

Copyright 2010 Patrick Black and Perfect Imprints.  All rights reserved.

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