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Bank Giveaways

Get an umbrella, it's raining bank giveaways!
By Jennifer L. Zebel

Although banks aren't known for giving money away, they are known for giving away vault-fulls of promotional products. From pens and plastic piggy banks to T-shirts and electronics, banks love giveaways because they attract new customers with a minimal investment.

"You name it, I've given it away," says Alvin Harward, senior vice president of Central Bank, located in Provo, Utah. "I've given away everything from stress balls to golf balls."

Harward, who has been with Central Bank for 30 years, says promotional products are an important marketing tool at his bank for two reasons. "First, it leaves our name around for a long time, so customers think of us when they think of banking," he says. The second reason is to create and maintain a positive reputation for the bank. "I like it when people say, 'Man, is there something your bank doesn't give away?'"

Because of his bank's reputation for freebies, Harward makes a special effort to buy high-quality items. "I hate giving things away that are low-quality," he says. "We want to give away things that are going to stick around, so I look for quality over cost."

Banks also want to give away items that will have purpose. Harward tries to keep several giveaways on hand, regardless of what promotion is going on, so that the right item goes into the hands of each customers. "It'll surprise you-the items that become useful," he notes. "A lady might come in during a rainstorm, so we'll give her an umbrella with our logo, and it makes people say 'Wow, that bank really cares.'"

Apparel is not as common as pens, magnets and calendars, but Harward says they do have a place in bank programs. "Every year we have a customer appreciation day, and that's when we get bulk orders of T-shirts or golf shirts," he says.

"It all depends on the promotion, but we sometimes give away nice golf shirts or really nice jackets to loan customers," Harward adds. "I am a very strong promoter of making sure anyone who opens an account or uses a service should get something; or, if one of our people goes out to meet with clients, I want them to take something to leave with our name on it."

Harward does order higher-end apparel in smaller quantities for special customers and for in-house employee programs. "We do a lot of embroidered golf shirts and we've done jackets and even top and bottom sweats for the employees," he says.

Umbrellas and bags, two popular bank promotional products, don't have the inventory requirements that apparel has. Gilbert Bresler, national sales manager for The Great American Umbrella & Bag Co. (Ridgewood, N.Y.), says the type of giveaways that banks choose are closely related to the type of promotion and the amount of money customers give. "It all depends; there's a bank in Maryland that we did a really high-end bag for that was customized with gold webbing and gold ribbon and they used it for new accounts, as an incentive," he says. "To anyone who walks in, banks will give a 29-cent pen, but if you open an account, they'll give away better gifts."

According to Bresler, it is important for banks to choose promotional products with the end user in mind. "You want items with the broadest acceptance of the product because you never know who's opening an account," he says. "So you have to choose something that everyone would want or everyone would use."

COPYRIGHT © 2003, PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved. This article is protected by United States copyright and other intellectual property laws and may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, redisseminated, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, directly or indirectly, in any medium without the prior written permission of PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.
Jennifer L. Zebel

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