In an age of the breathless pursuit for viral marketing, it’s easy to forget the time-tested treasure trove of well-designed and useful pieces of swag that encounter real people in the real world on behalf of your product, business or service. While commercials, SEO and banners can take up space in an advertising budget, when it comes to getting more bang for your buck, swag’s effectiveness outweighs television, radio, print and Internet advertising, and it translates into a real and measurable buy-in from potential customers.
Almost $20 billion is spent on promotional products each year in the United States, which is a mere drop in the bucket compared to overall ad spending. From coffee mugs to trucker hats, swag is an important part of the country’s economy and marketing landscape, and it makes sense that it is. For pennies on the dollar, companies are able to promote products and services that will be better recalled and more positively associated by those who receive swag than by those who see a television or newspaper ad. A study conducted by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) revealed that over 90 percent of people surveyed could recall a promotional product they had received in the past two years, and almost 90 percent could remember the advertiser responsible for the product. Over 80 percent of people surveyed like receiving swag — an incredibly positive marketing statistic considering the fact that most people either don’t like being advertised to or are, at least, wary of it. Almost 70 percent of the people who receive promotional products tend to keep the products, and just under half would like to be the recipients of more swag in the future. When you give out swag to your potential customers, not only will they most likely remember the brand associated with the product, but 75 percent will remember the product or service being offered, and almost that many will recall the message associated with the brand. There is no other advertising medium that gets that kind of response.
Do promotional products produce buy-in any better than other forms of advertising? Overwhelmingly, the answer is yes. People who receive a promotional product make a purchase 21 percent more often than when they view an ad on television, in a print source or in an online forum, and unlike those other forms of advertising, when someone ceases to use a piece of swag, it isn’t uncommon for it to be passed along to someone else, which extends the reach of your brand even further.
Swag is effective in every way that advertising seeks to be effective. Recipients show high recall of not just the brand, but also the good or service provided; the brand generates positive regard in relation to the swag; and most importantly, promotional products result in purchases. Clearly, companies need to be investing advertising dollars in promotional products, but which ones should they utilize? Not all swag is created equal, and the more useful a piece of swag, the more often the recipient will interact with your brand and message. Here are some of the most effective promotional products on the market:
- Pens. It doesn’t seem to matter that everyone is always on a smartphone or tablet, people still use pens and will continue to do so. Customized promotional pens are inexpensive, small enough to carry in a pocket or purse and always gratefully received. The Pen Guy, www.thepenguy.com, is just one of many companies that sell promotional pens.
- Seasonal items. Customized seasonal items like sunscreen, flip-flops, lip balm and more are a great way to get your brand associated with outdoor fun.
- Snacks. While a customized bag of popcorn or nuts spends less time with a potential customer than swag that doesn’t get eaten, the positive associations of a pleasurable eating experience will benefit your brand.
- Reusable shopping bags. If you want to build a reputation as a responsible and environmentally mindful organization — regardless of what you sell — promotional, reusable shopping bags are a great swag option.
- USB pre-loaded with an e-book. Instead of just handing out promotional USB drives, why not give ones that are also customized with an e-book relative to your industry? Not only will potential customers enjoy the usefulness of the thumb drive, they also may begin to associate your company with the expertise they find in the e-book.
Regardless of what you sell, promotional products will make you more successful in that selling. Still highly effective, with better return on investment rates than other forms of advertising, swag continues its reign as the king of the marketing hill.
About the Author: Gary Austin is a contributing blogger and advertising specialist, who owns his own business selling promotional pens.