Marketing With Tangibles

Allegra Michael Grant

Now, how about something we can really get our hands around?

Trinkets and trash, that’s what they used to call promotional products and advertising specialties. It was stuff you gave away as an afterthought without any real consideration of its impact. You just did it because… well, that’s what someone said to do. They bought it and you had to give it away. As it turns out, these items have a lot more value than some people think.

Promotional products have become an $18+ Billion dollar world-wide industry. Almost every major brand on this planet uses promotional products. There are literally hundreds of thousands of products to choose from. Practically any item that you can think of has been transformed into a promotional product. Why? Because name recognition and brand retention is strengthened through the use of this form of advertising. The life span or staying power of these products can be very long and thus your message is seen again and again, sometimes over years and to a wide ranging audience. Once again, rarely is marketing a home run. It is a series of hits and a series of runs – back to our reference to “Moneyball”. Promotional products are one more tool to keep your game alive for a very long time.

Now, back to the trinkets and trash comment, ME wants something useful not just clutter. If the item is useful, ME will keep it. If it has ME’s name on it then ME will keep it for a very long time. As an example, on and around my desk I myself have one branded calendar, two branded travel mugs and scores of branded pens. I see the names of those companies every day, all day and each item they have given me is useful. That’s why I use them.

The promotional product industry also consists of employee recognition items. This is all about motivating, rewarding and retaining employees. Providing an employee with an item that has their name on it is a special moment. Rarely do people discard an item that has their name on it. Our offices have well over 100 awards with our company’s and our employees’ names on them. Some awards were presented over 40 years ago. Again, it is all part of building the team and subsequently, the brand.

Let’s look at some statistics from a study performed by the Advertising Specialty Institute.

84% remembered the advertisers of the promotional products they’ve received.


62% have done business with the advertiser on a promotional product after receiving the item.


42% had a more favourable impression of the advertiser after receiving the item.
The 2012 State of the Industry report in Counselor magazine lists the top 26 categories of promotional products sold. Shirts are the undisputed leader with 20% of revenue. 42% of men and 30% of women own a promo shirt. Writing instruments account for 7.3% of revenue and have the highest retention percentages. 56% of women and 46% of men own one of these. Calendars account for 4% of revenue. 28% of women and 19% of men own a promotional calendar. 81% of people surveyed said that they kept a promotional product because it was useful.

In summary, promotional products can help build the retention of your brand in the marketplace and within your company. Of course, the more useful the product or the more special the moment, then the more likely it will be kept and displayed for all to see. Promote your web site on the item and engage people on another media. It’s one more way to work cross media marketing.

Next week:Posters, Banners and Signs: Focusing on the Neighbourhood