Who doesn’t love receiving a free gift? Think about every convention, event, expo, or tradeshow, that you have ever attended. Chances are the phrase, “I really can’t wait to get some free stuff” crossed your mind. You might find it hard to believe but companies live for this. It’s a chance to give you, the consumer some type of promotional product in hopes that you will use it or keep it with you. They know that in the future you will promote their company by showing their promotional item to a friend, colleague, or just about anyone. These promotional products can be just about anything: shirts, bags, hats. You name it and it can be a promotional product. Promotional products are not only a superb tool in getting your company recognized, but a necessity.

Purchasing a promotional product can go a very long way. Will results be immediate? In some cases, yes. But if you don’t see the benefits right away they’ll come in due time. Take my own story for example. I’ve been to tradeshows and whether they’re car shows or pc expos, the first thing that I pick up when I walk through those big entry ways is a plastic bag. I’ve now got a place to put all my brochures, pamphlets, and whatever else I might collect at the convention. Now these bags usually have some company’s logo printed right on the bag. At the most recent pc expo that I went to they had Ask.com’s logo on the bag. I can remember exactly how it looked: a bright red bag with their company logo printed in white. That was about two or three months ago. Now that’s smart company branding right there. If I can remember that out of all the other things that I have done in the past two months, then the company has accomplished their goal with the use of a promotional product.

This might be compelling evidence that promotional products are the key to getting your company recognized and remembered, but just picking the coolest product on the block won’t get you very far. There’s one key element to remember when choosing a promotional product: you need to know your target audience. Example: you can’t give fruit stress reliever to a convention attendee that is there to see computers. Why? It has nothing to do with what your target audience is interested in. Wouldn’t you rather give a computer stress reliever? Your target audience is the key because they are the ones you want at your booth and they are the ones you want contacting your company directly to purchase some type of item or service. If you leave a lasting impression on that customer then you have done successfully promoted your company. And if you do it with a promotional product, then you have left them with a physical product that will remind them to contact you in the future.

All this is great, but you’re probably thinking what type of promotional product would benefit me the most? Again look to your target audience but also look at what type of industry you’re in. Ask yourself, what type of relationship do I want to build with a customer: long term or short term? If you’re interested in a short term relationship, then probably any industry related promotional doodad will do, but if you want a lasting impression, do a little bit of homework. Think what I would want if I was a long time customer from a company. Personally, I would love to get a promotional bag for my laptop from the company who sells me my computer parts. I’d love a duffle bag with the company logo of my auto parts store screen printed on the side.I see that as loyalty to me, the consumer. And if I were the owner of a company and I saw a customer using the promotional item that I picked out, that would make me feel good. Because I’d know that I had successfully developed a good relationship with my customers.

So how do you start successfully branding your business? Firstly, work from the inside out by starting with your employees. They interact with customers day to day and they’re people themselves. So running ideas about promotional products by them can give you great feedback into the mind of the consumer. Your employees will tell you an honest opinion about which products would be most successful with your customers. This will save you time and expense. Speaking of time, be sure to factor in that promotional products are made to order. Customization takes time, so make sure you, if you have a specific event date, you leave yourself the time needed. It saves time and money in the long run.

So what have we learned about promotional products? Firstly, promotional products can help your company in ways you have never dreamed of when used correctly. Secondly, know your target audience. In addition to knowing your target audience, you have to know your industry. Utilize your employees’ ideas and opinions about specific promotional items before giving them out to your target audience. Finally and most importantly, plan in advance and allow the time needed for production. Following these simple steps will result in, not only the correct use of promotional products, but a successful promotion as well!