When and how to use promotional merchandise to improve brand awareness



Promotional Merchandise

It should go without saying, but brand awareness is pivotal to the success of any fledging business. A fantastic product that has the potential to revolutionise people’s lives can easily fall short if it doesn’t receive the required exposure through effective marketing strategies. There are countless examples throughout history of arguably weaker products prevailing against their competitors through marketing and generating brand awareness. For instance, this is what transpired in the duel between Betamax and VHS.

Betamax had the far superior product which included a more stable image, better sound quality and less video noise, yet somehow VHS managed to oust it from the market. Primarily, this was because VHS created a reputation for itself as being cheaper and having a wider choice of movies. These associations caught on in the public consciousness, and by 1988 Betamax’s fire was extinguished from the marketplace. Even if your business isn’t exactly launching a trailblazing product, there are a number of ways that you can build up brand awareness and edge out your competitors. Promotional merchandise is one such way, and this article will be a whistle stop guide on how to do just that.

Promotional merchandise for events:

Whether you have a deep-rooted and visceral fear and hatred of the hobnobbing and shenanigans of business events, there is no denying that it is one of the best settings to leverage promotional merchandise into expanding awareness of your business and its offerings. At your stand, there is a plethora of products that you could offer. USB sticks, T Shirts, mousepads, tote bags and pens to name but a few. You could charge for your products and possibly make a few sales, but bear in mind that most people aren’t actively seeking to buy such novelty products at these events, so we would suggest offering them for free. Consider it a gesture of goodwill.

Your main target should be for your brand offering to take up a residence in the minds of your prospective customers like a catchy advertising jingle. This is best achieved by offering a high-quality product which you know your target audience would use on a routine basis. For example, if you’re targeting tech companies then provide USB sticks and mousepads, but don’t skimp on the quality. They are far more likely to hold you in high esteem if your merchandise has a meaningful and permanent role in their life. Not to mention, well designed promotional merchandise will feature your brand logo and iconography, so your giftee will be reminded of your company every time they’re doing a riveting and life-affirming task like transferring files onto your drive.

Also, think about giving a head nod to the environment protection cause. Studies have shown that, especially among the younger cohort, consumers are more likely to engage with a brand if its practices are seen as environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. If you decide that T Shirts are the merchandise route that you are going to take, then opt for a Bamboo or Tencel fabric and play up those features to your recipient. Don’t forget to have a range of sizes to cater for the unique composition of each human being and make your merchandise visible and attractively displayed.

First contact with clients:

It’s a common adage that first impressions count. This rings true as much in a business context as it does in a social setting. That might sound intimidating but you can play this to your advantage with a little bit of strategy. Appearance is absolutely crucial and customers will make sweeping judgements based on how your employees present themselves. With this in mind, employees should put on the best front possible and the best way to do this? Printed clothing!

If you deck out your employees with vibrant T Shirts, hoodies, hats and trousers, they immediately come across as a cohesive unit rather than a ragtag band of misfits. The consequence is an increased likelihood of observers engaging in soliciting services from your company. This is a variation on the Halo effect, a form of cognitive bias whereby we generalise from one salient and likeable characteristic of someone (like their appearance) to other positive characteristics and traits. In a business context, a varnished appearance increases the perception of your business as competent and dependable.

To really pull this off, your printed clothing should be of the highest quality and have an attractive, verging on alluring, design.

The other major benefit to this approach is that your employees can easily be pocked out from the crowd in a store. We’ve all been to a store whereby we’ve feverishly scanned the area for an employee to no avail, almost as if they’re attempted to blend into the background like a guerilla soldier. Or conversely, we’ve been approached and mistaken for an employee and asked some obscure product related question. All of these difficulties can be disentangled by banding your employees together under the same appeal.

Printed merchandise for loyal clients:

Gift-giving taps into another major characteristic of humans, namely reciprocity. When we receive a gift from someone, we feel an onus to return the favour. In a business transaction, this would manifest through customer loyalty. Your customer would feel the urge to return to the store and repeat their custom. With this in mind, and with respect to what was mentioned earlier, you should provide promotional merchandise which customers will feel grateful for. You want their eyes to light up when you hand them the product. You practically have the power to boost their day and spread happiness.

In practical terms, you can’t go wrong by offering the choice of an item of promotional merchandise when your customers make a purchase. Some of the items that you could include behind the till include pens, lanyards, notebooks or wristbands. It could be the difference between retaining customers or letting them slip through your fingers.

If sales and interest in your business are stagnating, then promotional merchandise could be just the trick to help you turn things around. I’m going to throw a few stags and facts your way. 58% of people keep a promotional product anywhere from a year to four years. Over the course of this lifespan, the product is bound to receive a number of impressions and consistently place your business on the owner’s radar. According to a PPAI study, 84% of the respondents saw advertising through promotional merchandise medium as more positive than traditional merchandising and ramped up positive perceptions in the business. Finally, promotional merchandise results in the recipient being both more likely to recommend the business and to patronise it. It’s abundantly clear that promotional merchandise can have a fantastic influence on your business by skyrocketing your sales and increasing customer loyalty.

Stay tuned for a guide on how and when to use different types of promotional products.

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