The Gift That Keeps On Giving (Back)

It’s a common misconception we’ve heard from certain factions of business people:  “We don’t believe in using promotional products.  We win our customers' business by providing a great product or service… not by giving away freebies.”  However, these same businesses almost always invest in advertising and branding.  Though promotional products are not the most traditional form of advertising, it’s been proven time and time again they provide one of the biggest bangs for your marketing dollar when compared to traditional advertising.  And, unfortunately, they often fall to the bottom of the priority list for many marketing departments.  In this week’s Promo Talk blog I’m going to give you FACTS that may convince you to consider promotional products not as a freebie, but as the gift that keeps on giving BACK!

Sure… different types of advertising are used over others depending on your message and objective.  For example, if you wish to share several features and benefits to lay out a compelling reason for a very specific market to give you a look, then maybe a large ad in a trade magazine is the best vehicle for you.  If your objective is to get your name and a simple message to as many as possible in a much less targeted market, then radio or tv are probably the avenue to look at first.  However, if you are like most businesses and you have a pretty good idea who the sweet spot in your market is, then a well thought out promotional product campaign can give you the biggest bang for your buck.

So let‘s look at the facts.  When it comes to getting your brand out there and in front of people, promotional products are the “gift” that keeps on giving back.  Study after study has shown this.  I will point to one of the more recent studies conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute that quantifies the advertisers’ average cost per impression (CPI) for the various ad vehicles.  This is how many times your brand is seen by someone.  A prime-time TV ad will cost an average of 1.8¢ per impression.  According to this study, a newspaper ad will cost you 0.7¢ per impression.  How much is the CPI for the average promotional product?  I’m glad I asked!  It costs you 0.6¢ each time a person glances at your logo or brand when using promotional merchandise!


Source: ASI Impressions Study

There were only a couple mediums that performed better in this study.  They were spot radio ads (0.5¢ CPI) and internet (0.3¢ CPI).  But there’s a couple other factors at play when comparing the promotional product to radio or internet.  Most promotional campaigns can be directed to a much tighter target market (if even moderately-well planned) than a radio ad.  So you’re getting more of the people that YOU WANT familiar with your brand compared to who would be reached on your average Jack & Diane In The Afternoon Show.  I know that the internet is very good at locating your target market to advertise to.  But let’s face it… your ad will be right next to several of your direct competitors’ when they see it.

Grocery Tote

Bags are the highest performing category in CPI with an average of 5,983 impressions before it’s put out of use. Source: ASI Impressions Study


One more feature that needs to be pointed out when comparing the promotional product‘s performance with other mediums is the TYPE of impression you’re making.  People don’t like watching TV ads.  They definitely don’t enjoy wading through the annoying ways advertisers try to steal their attention on the web.  But they LOVE getting stuff!  So when you’re talking about Cost Per Impression, the impressions your promotional products are making are more often than not positive!  Another section of this same study done by the Advertising Specialty Institute supports the fact that most people have a more favorable opinion of an organization after getting a promotional product from them.

So why do promo products fall so far down on the priority list in so many marketing departments?  I think there are a few old stereo-types or misinformed ideas at play here. But I won’t spend much time on those.  However, as a marketing guy myself, I think the difficulty in measuring ROI of promotional merchandise makes it tougher to properly acknowledge it’s effectiveness.  We want our ad campaigns to be followed by a report showing how brilliantly it performed, don’t we?  A radio ad may result in x-number of calls coming into sales within a week after it aired.  Same thing with a magazine ad.  But then it’s over.  A quality piece of promotional merchandise that is designed to reflect your brand’s personality and fit into the everyday life of your target prospect is the gift that keeps on giving (back)!  The ASI’s Impression Study tells us that the average promo-product keeps advertising for you 6 months after it’s put into use!


Source: ASI’s 2013 Impressions Study

I admit that I’m talking simple averages of the very massive and widely diverse industry of promotional products.  There are so many different uses for ad-specialties! There are trade show traffic builders, direct mail campaigns, premium programs, sales call leave-behinds.. the list goes on and on.  There are also a kagillion types of products that can be used.  Just because one thing works for one company does not mean it will work for yours.  This is why finding a promotional product vendor who performs their role as a CONSULTANT instead of a sales guy will make your job easier and ultimately get you the results that you’re looking for!  Branding Stop’s creative sales team has over 40 years experience in the “Stuff” business and has consultative account executives working with every type of business from healthcare, to movie theaters, to financial institutions, to animal pharmaceuticals, to manufacturers, to carpet cleaners.  We know every one of our clients are unique, and we take the time to discover the ways and the types of promotional merchandise that will work for them.  If your current promo guy is just a salesman, don’t hesitate to give us a shot!

So there you have it!  I hope I’ve made you think twice before forcing your company’s branded merchandise to take a back seat to all the other marketing efforts.  Please feel free to let me know ( or 913.486.2274) if you have any questions or input on my thoughts about company “stuff”.  It’s a discussion that I always enjoy!