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Big Splashes, Little Ripples: The Impact of Business Gifts

Promotional gifts have always been a popular way of making an impact with your marketing; after all, everybody loves a free gift. However, depending on how you choose to spend your budget, your impact can vary quite significantly. By choosing high-cost, high-impact gifts with a limited distribution, you can make a big splash with your targeted clients; alternatively, you could choose items with a lower price and lower impact, extend your distribution and spread little ripples throughout your target demographic. Both are valid tactics, and each has their own advantages.

Giving promotional gifts for business contacts

Little Ripples

The “little ripples” style of promotional campaign is one that we’re all familiar with; we’ve either used it, or it’s been used on us. The concept is simple; order low-cost branded items – like pens, keyrings or badges – in bulk, and give them out at events and exhibitions, send them to your mailing list, or even hand them out in the street.

To illustrate the effectiveness of such gifts, research by the BPMA (British Promotional Marketing Association) in 2014 asked respondents about the promotional products on their desks. An overwhelming 89% had a promotional pen, 83% could remember a brand from promotional products they had on their desk, and 83% had made a purchase from one of the companies whose branded products they were using.

Because the per-item cost is low, you don’t need to invest heavily in the accuracy of your targeting. So long as a reasonable percentage of these low-impact gifts end up in the hands of potential clients, you can expect a good return on your investment. Like scattering a handful of pebbles into a lake, you’ll see many of the ripples reach the shore.

Mac and iPhone USB cable promotional product

Big Splash

Sometimes, however, this hit-and-miss approach is not what you desire; you have a specific target group in mind, and you want to make an impact with all of them.

A carefully chosen, more luxurious gift, which shows some obvious thought and investment, will naturally have more impact on the individual recipient; it shows that you value their custom specifically and creates a more meaningful bond. At EMC Advertising Gifts, we’ve recently noted a growing trend towards these kinds of high-impact gifts – a kick against the current atmosphere of austerity, perhaps?

An important step for the “big splash” style campaign is identifying the target recipients. When you’re investing a higher amount into each gift, you need to be sure that they’re going to the right people; those who are definitely interested in your products or services, and who might make or influence a purchase decision.

However, as the per-item price rises, you also need to give more consideration to the ethics of gift-giving. The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) warns that bribery can be disguised as lavish gift-giving, and care should be taken to ensure that your gifts don’t break any corporate policies or worse, breach the Bribery Act. If you’re giving gifts to corporate recipients, it’s always wise to check their policies first, make sure that the gift is of an appropriate nature, and never offer expensive gifts during a tender process!

Which to choose?

Whether you choose to make a big splash or cause little ripples essentially depends on what your aim is. A low-cost, little ripple campaign is great for spreading news far and wide, so it’s ideal for promoting new brands or products and publicising sales. The higher-cost big splash campaign is designed more to reinforce links you’ve already made; it’s ideal for improving customer loyalty and strengthening bonds between corporate partners.

A good marketing strategy, therefore, is likely to use both at different times – creating both big splashes and little ripples to ensure that your name is always lapping at the shores of your clients’ minds!

About author

Simon Kay
Simon Kay 3 posts

Simon Kay is the Managing Director of EMC Advertising Gifts, a specialist promotional products retailer who has many years of experience in the marketing gifts industry.

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