The 10 essential criteria to consider before you order your business promotional merchandise.
The simplest way to filter your product search is of course the cost you pay for it. There is a product to suit any budget, so business promotional items can be used by companies of any size, quite literally with any budget.
Cost of product vs Cost as value over life of product.
Tread carefully - any judgement of the true cost should always go hand in hand with consideration of “Durability” of the product and how long its' lifecycle is. A product that is durable and likely to last for 12 months like a drink bottle or quality notebook that may cost $15, compares favourably to a $3 item that has a lifecycle of 2 - 4 weeks.
It’s the name of the game - by definition anything you add your logo to becomes part of your brand building story. The feelings associated with the promotional items you select will reflect directly on your brand in both positive and negative ways. Select a product that has synergy with your brand or campaign goals.
Example 1: Eco Friendly products align your brand with being earth friendly and a social citizen that supports sustainability.
Example 2: Selecting products that support an active lifestyle, reflects your brand image as aligned with promotion of healthy and active lifestyles.
In reverse, selecting products that are low quality, non sustainable, tacky or considered more a "fad" can damage your brand, or make it end up in the garbage bin.
How long is the lifecycle of your product and does it align and contribute with the goals of your long term marketing plans?
How does the product age over time?
A short lifecycle product is attractive to even the largest and biggest brands and companies, if it suits the goals of the marketing campaign. For example many companies wanting awareness for a new product or campaign will use a disposable “giveaway” product to reach large audiences like at a sporting event.
For many small business, with limited budgets, who may produce maybe less than a few promotional campaigns a year to promote their business to their clients, the issue of product lifecycle and durability is a major consideration.
“More Bang for you Buck”
The Longer lifecycle products in general are highly desirable, as they reduce the “overall” cost over time, in theory making a better ROI ( Return on Investment) more likely, essentially giving your brand more time in the eye of your target market.
Service based Companies
Longer lifecycle products that score high on durability are attractive to service based business where clients contact your company a few times a year to make purchases as it enhances your chances of being front of mind when the need for your services arise, think plumbers, electricians and pest controllers, but also B2B services companies in many industries that sell niche or specialised services.
Long Lifecycle products include Stainless Steel Drink Bottles, Quality Pens, Notebooks, Umbrellas, Chairs, Backpacks.
When we pick gifts for our loved ones or co-workers, generally we will pick gifts we think they will like and will actually use correct ? Of course you say! Well that is no different to promotional products , which are exactly the same thing - a GIFT to your client or employee.
# The Number 1 - 77% of Consumers selected “Usefulness” as the number 1 reason to keep a promotional item.
Health & Safety, Computer & Tech Products, Writing Instruments and Notebooks are ranked as the “most useful”
5. Perceived Value
So we discussed “Cost” above and its very simple to judge a product by what it costs you, but here we’re looking at what we all associate the “price” of a particular product based on our past experience and society norms. This is called perceived value, as it has no direct relevance to what the product actually costs you, but the “value” certain products, or attributes of a product ( like the material) have in the marketplace or in peoples value system.
Should my products perceived value always be High?
Not at all, as long as there is not a “mismatch” between the goals of the campaign, your own brands positioning and the perceived value of the product you pick, so for this reason you should always be aware how the product you select rates on this matrix. Products with short lifecycles that are giveaways or disposable products that are “use once” don’t require a high perceived value.
Common indicators of High Perceived Value products:
Material its made of: by using a material that indicated better quality can give your product a huge “Perceived Value” Boost. eg Drink Bottles and using insulated and powder coasted bottles - can increase the perceived value to $25-$50 - while a regular drink bottle without these features drops to $10 or less.
Product Type - some products have a low perceived value, which is fine if perceived value is not a priority - eg product giveaways, selecting product
The easiest way to create a high perceived value is to use products that carry well known brands, this is called “Co-Branding”, where you for example use a well known brand and add your brand to the product.
Example - add your logo to “Titleist” golf balls or hats - a brand that is known as a top golf brand.
Co-Branding is available in many product product categories.
How does your product rate in being unique?
The higher unique factor a product has, the more chance of it having Wow Factor.
If you want your brand to be known as innovative, unconventional, maybe a little funky - then select products that score well on this factor.
Most products can have a Unique Edge
One way to increase the uniqueness rating of your preferred product is the use of existing products with a “unique” twist. An easy way to do this is to explore the many Eco Friendly alternatives for existing products, which offer the chance to present traditional products on unique materials like Eco Plastic, Wood, Bamboo, cork and bags in materials like Jute and Juco.
Tip: Disrupting an existing market ? Select products that rate through the roof in uniqueness!
7. Lifestyle Integrator
By seamlessly integrating into peoples lifestyles, your branded merchandise products can add an extra dimension as a marketing tool, by essentially creating pseudo "brand ambassadors" for your business.
Often these products are used every day of the week, be it at work, after work activities like exercise, gym, kids sports.
These products can become effectively “Mobile Branding Tools”, as the user interacts with people or in outdoor settings, this increases your brand exposure to not just the user, but to potentially a much larger audience.
Products that score well in Lifestyle Integration include Drink Bottles, Sports Shakers, Re usable coffee cups. Umbrellas, deck chairs, all apparel like T-Shirts, Hoodies and in particular Bags and Headwear like caps and bucket hats
One for the stats nerd , the Kitchen is the number 1 place people use and keep their promotional products, and people spend an average 3-5 hrs a day in their Kitchen.
Additionally, Kitchen used branded “Merch” are attractive products for the working from home workforce, which is predicted to become the new norm, note its estimated by people like Bill Gates that up to 30% of all workers in many countries will permanently work from home in the years to come.
Covid has created a “New Norm” for the way we all behave and interact and in particular the impact on things like peoples leisure activities, lifestyle and most significantly how we spend our significant time a week working.
Any item you align your brand with you should consider if its use is impacted either positively or negatively by this new norm.
10. Target Market Match
Marketing basics is to know your customer segments and match your products to their needs, promote yourself to this market or markets, price your products accordingly and make it easy for them to buy and/or find you and your products.
The free marketing lesson over, this one is quite straight forward, apply the same principles to your choice of Branded Merch you do to your own products, make sure the products match your target market segments, not what products you like to use and would be cool to use and hand to clients to make you feel great.
By applying a rating criteria to judge every possible promotional item, as apposed to randomly selecting "cool" products, you are considering to use for a branded merchandise project, you will increase the chances dramatically that you will select products that are most suited to your own business and therefore increase the probability that each project is a success.
This blog article originally appeared here and is reproduced with permission.