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Promotional Products Basics

What Are Promotional Products?
Promotional products - usually imprinted with a company's name, logo or message - include useful or decorative articles of merchandise that are utilized in marketing and communication programs. Imprinted products that are distributed free are called advertising specialties. Imprinted items given as an incentive for a specific action are known as premiums. Business gifts, awards and commemoratives are also considered promotional products.

How is promotional products marketing used?
Since promotional products can be used alone, or integrated with other media, there are virtually limitless ways to use them. Popular programs are business gifts; employee relations; orientation programs; corporate communications; and, at trade shows to generate booth traffic.

They're also effective for dealer/distribution programs; co-op programs; company stores; generating new customers or new accounts; nonprofit fundraising; public awareness campaigns; and for promotion of brand awareness and brand loyalty. Other uses include employee incentive programs; new product or service introduction; and marketing research for survey and focus group participants.

What kinds of promotional products are available?
There are literally tens of thousands of different types and styles of promotional products. In many cases, it's even possible to obtain custom items that aren't found in any catalog. Examples of common items include: pens, calendars, T-shirts, caps, coffee mugs, calculators, keychains, desk accessories and bumper stickers.

What Products are the most popular?
Advertisers spent more than $13.2 billion in 1998 on products purchased through professional promotional products distributors.

What are some of the pros and cons of using imprinted promotional products?
Pros: Promotional products marketing fits into any advertising budget, complements other media, can be directed to selected audiences and remains to repeat the advertising message each time the product is used, without extra cost per exposure. People like to receive them. And since the items are useful and appealing they are effective as incentives and motivators. Because there are so many products available, there is a lot of flexibility in planning a successful promotion.

Cons: On many products the imprint area is limited. Production time could range from days to as much as eight weeks depending on the product and the complexity of the imprint. And, unlike broadcast or other media where there is automatic distribution, with promotional products advertising, you must plan a distribution method.

Research Shows...
Recipients of promotional products remember the advertiser's name. A study by Schreiber & Associates (Peoria, IL) showed that 39 percent of the people receiving a promotional product could recall the name of the advertiser as long as six months after they received it.

Promotional products are ideal for creating awareness among a selective audience. Southern Methodist University conducted a study to measure attendee awareness of product demonstrations in three university communities. They found that selective distribution of promotional products outpulled school newspaper advertising by two-to-one.

Promotional products, used as dimensionals in direct mail solicitations, can boost response rates by up to 75 percent, according to a study by Baylor University.

Customers reorder faster and more often when promotional products are used instead of coupons. In a study by Southern Methodist University, customers receiving promotional products reordered up to 18 percent sooner than those who received coupons and up to 13 percent sooner than those who received no promotion.

Promotional products effectively reinforce employee sales contests, too. A Baylor University study of month-long sales contests in retail establishments indicates that contests reinforced by periodic distribution of promotional products were cost-effective and outperformed non-stimulated contests by up to 50 percent.

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