Promotional Products Build Sales, Awareness and Image! By, Wayne Roberts • Objectives: Make sure the promotional product and campaign are linked to or support well-defined marketing or communications objectives. The objectives should not be overly complicated. • Target Audiences: In reaching an objective, promotional products campaigns should be directed to specific audiences. An objective for each audience should be developed. • Messages: Promotional products campaigns should convey a predetermined message to each audience. This message should be clear and concise. No single campaign should attempt to convey too many messages. Usually, best results are achieved when only one or two key points are stressed. • Theme: An "umbrella” program theme should be developed. The theme should take into account messages, audiences and the nature of the product or service. • Originality: Promotional product themes and items should be as original as possible to pique interest. • Usefulness: Promotional products should be practical items that recipients will use repeatedly. If the item is not used frequently, it should be attractive or decorative and remain in view. • Follow-ups: Some of the most effective promotional product campaigns result in an improved rate of response from recipients or permit sales force follow-ups either by phone or in person. In this regard a campaign can become a door opener. Promotional Products Work! CASE STUDY The business of residential developers and builders is, obviously, to build and sell homes. it also makes sound business sense for these companies to build awareness of their firms’ names, products and services with customers, prospects, communities and other important audiences. Besides providing high-quality housing, another means to enhance the Image of a building-related firm is through the use of promotional products. Promotional Products (or adcentives) are useful items of merchandise that are imprinted with an advertiser’s name, message or logo. Builders—and building product dealers—have distributed items such as pens and calendars to customers for decades. The trick, however, is to create promotional product programs that actually support sales, marketing or other communication objectives. MAINTAINING MARKET SHARE To maintain market share during a recessionary economy, the Sussel Company, a St. Paul, Minnesota builder of new homes, room additions and garages, sought to motivate its employees to greater effectiveness and productivity. Under a ‘Gold Rush” theme, the promotion stressed to employees In three branches that customers be treated like gold. Employees received imprinted nail-shaped ball point pens that were used to sign an accompanying pledge card committing employees to strive for better service. Employees who returned the signed card were entered in weekly prize drawings. For use at the office, employees also received gold telephone covers and candy-filled apothecary jars emblazoned with the promotional theme. During each week of the eight-week campaign, key employees—including draftsmen, coordinators and salespeople—also received a beverage glass with cards that provided tips on how to improve performance. Visitors to the branches also were given the nail-shaped ball point pens. Sussel reported that the promotion led to increased sensitivity and awareness of customer service. Successful market share retention, as measured by the low cancellation rate of new contracts, was achieved. ATTRACTING PROSPECTS The developers of Westridge, a residential community near Washington, D.C., sought to demonstrate the attractiveness of the community to an upscale market of second-time home buyers. Since many of the prospects had young children, coloring books entitled, ‘My Westridge World In Living Color;’ were created to depict the benefits and amenities enjoyed by Westridge residents. Packaged with crayons in plastic bags, the coloring books were issued to realtors and development personnel. In turn, they presented the promotional products to children who accompanied their parents during home searches. Newspaper advertising also supported the promotion. Westridge reported 313 sales were made during the promotion for a total of $51 million (an avenge of six home sales per week). The development said that the coloring book promotion definitely contributed to the successful sales rate. SOLIDIFYING COMMUNITY SUPPORT To rally and solidify community support for a new residential community in Riverside, California, Costain Homes used an innovative adcentives campaign that resulted in overwhelming response Because the new community was built around a golf course, Costain’s promotional products program was designed with a golf theme. Persons who lived near the proposed community were sent mailing tubes decorated with golf balls. Inside were streamers, confetti, golf tees, a miniature golf ball and an invitation to a pep rally. The rally was scheduled in advance of a public hearing that would provide a final go-ahead for the completion of the development. Some 45 individuals attended the rally. At the session, Costain provided an update on the development, free dessert and giveaways including imprinted jackets and imprinted oversized foam hands (like those used by sports fans to cheer on their teams). About 15 of the rally-goers attended the public hearing and were wearing their jackets and foam hands. Approval for the development passed unanimously. Promotional products has been used to build goodwill. But the promotional medium has the most impact when it goes beyond passive use, simple distribution, and becomes active. Promotional products should be created and distributed as part of a structured promotion that sets objectives, targets specific audiences, creates a theme and encourages audience response or facilitates sales force follow-ups. Evidence shows that promotional products work! A recent study by Gould/Pace University in New York indicated that incusion of a promotional product in a direct mail solicitation generates a greater response. Additionally, dollar purchases from resulting sales are as much as 321% greater than those purchased by direct mail alone! Other research shows that 39% of all persons receiving promotional products could recall the name of the advertiser as long as six months after receiving the adcentive. Moreover, retention of the promotional items is high. Research by A.C. Nielsen C 0. found that almost 1/3 of all respondents still use an ad specialty one year after receiving it. Another recent study, sponsored by Specialty Advertising Association International, revealed that nearly 2/3 of the business travelers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had at least one adcentive in their possession. More than 3/4 of those travelers could recall the advertiser’s name without looking at the article. Wayne Roberts is the chairman of the Specialty Advertising Association International, with its home office in Irving, Texas.