There’s something to be said for a good old branded biro or promotional USB stick – they can be handed out in large quantities at conferences and trade shows, helping to spread your company name far and wide and giving people a functional product which they can then associate with your goods or services. They don’t cost much to produce, and they still have a high success rate – so it’s a win-win situation for companies who simply want to get the word out there.
All that being said, I have noticed an emerging trend for higher impact gift options: promotional products which are more substantial and of a higher quality. Instead of being distributed on a massive scale, these gifts are targeted at smaller groups, and often given to people who already have a relationship with a brand in order to strengthen an existing bond, rather than attract a whole new audience.
Part of achieving that high-impact is, of-course, about choosing the right product: if you commonly deal with business professionals who are always on the move then anything which could help them power mobile devices will certainly be appreciated, while a beautiful fountain pen might be favoured by executives who want something nice to display on their desk. Giving a more luxurious promotional product to an existing client helps to show that you genuinely value their business; prove that you don’t stop caring for your consumers once you’ve got them through the door and you’re far more likely to see repeat custom and word-of-mouth recommendations.
However, if you really want to make a good impression then there’s a whole lot more to consider than just the gift item itself. I firmly believe that the experience you create is a crucial part of the process; recently I read about a company in Minnesota who set up a ‘Blue Jeans Bar’ – instead of just giving away free jeans or even gift certificates, consumers were given a huge range of options, fitted professionally and even given the opportunity to have alterations made.
There are some important things that we can take away from this important example, the first of which is offering choice. Although this is true for almost every consumer-base, it is especially important if you are marketing to millennial – these are customers who want to know that everything has been tailored to their needs, and allowing them to choose from a number of options can be one of the easiest ways to make that happen.
Equally, on-the-day customisation can help people to feel as though they are getting a gift which is of genuine value to them personally – this is why the ‘Blue Jeans Bar’ was such a successful idea, as nobody had to go home with ill-fitting jeans that would sit in the back of the closet and never get worn.
Sometimes, creating an experience is simply about giving an important client some of your time. Presenting somebody with restaurant vouchers is always a nice thought, but actually taking them out to dinner allows them to get to know you on a personal level outside of the formal setting of a business meeting. Never underestimate the power of actually getting to know your customers – and if you’re treating them to a delicious dinner and some fine wine at the same time then they’ll be happy to listen to what you have to say… just don’t ruin a great evening out by going straight for the hard-sell!
Another great idea is to invite a small group of carefully chosen individuals for a ‘behind the scenes’ look at your operation. Think about how Cadbury World shows chocolate lovers the process that goes into creating a product, while also offering the opportunity to try samples; is this something that you could replicate on a smaller scale? If you have a unique production process then people will be genuinely interested to see how it works, especially if you can also offer a complimentary gift to sweeten their day out.
The world of promotional gifts is constantly evolving, so although there will always be a place for the more conventional products, if you can evolve with it and take a more sophisticated approach then you can make your promotional strategy far more memorable – and ultimately strike a much higher impact.