Promo Marketing Trends
Quick response codes (QR) are flat little squares of black and white dots that are cropping up across the mobile marketing field. Smartphone users simply snap a photo of these dots and a QR code reader app connects to an Internet landing page, revealing a world of useful information. For those who market with promotional products, QR codes could be the most prescient, agile and robust way to appeal to the burgeoning mobile market.
The growing trend toward QR codes for marketing is already well established in Japan, where 25% of shopping takes place on mobile devices. The US market has been slower to catch on to the QR trend, but forward-thinking marketers are beginning to sit up and take notice. Promotional products are the perfect platform for quick response technology. A QR code reader app can make a product perform all sorts of Internet tricks that can keep consumers entertained and engaged for years to come.
The ways advertisers are able to use QR codes for marketing is limited only by imagination. These little black and white dynamos are more than just two-dimensional barcodes, they can really pack a marketing wallop. They can be stamped on almost any flat surface or digital location, and linked to all sorts of Internet destinations, from functional to frivolous. Landing pages can include product information, reviews, discount coupons, online shopping pages, social media platforms, music, videos, games, surveys, polls, and much more.
One really innovative way to use QR on promotional products is to embellish the code itself with a graphic or message. The codes are made up of black and white patterns that can only be read by a QR code reader app, but unused areas in the code’s design may be crafted into a simple picture or words. This is even more reason to put QR codes on promotional products.
Clearly the trend toward consumer use of QR technology is growing quickly and the mobile movement shows no sign of slowing anytime soon. Using QR codes to market promotional products is simply a smart business move. Advertisers can start by learning more ways for marketers to use QR codes creatively.
Another creative printing idea I liked. As far as I understand, the guy in the picture just bought a book of detective stories by one of the most famous crime writers in Belgium.
With the help of a simple plastic bag, just like this one we have here, and a creative idea of what to print, these guys have reached more goals than one would expect from a simple promotional item. They got the whole city speaking about them, they got an increase in sales and last but not least they got websites and blogs all over the Internet praising them for how clever and creative they are are. Really nice one.
If you are here to choose the next fine product to put your logo on, then I guess I gave you some additional ideas during the last few days. But maybe you are not, and other tabs of your browser are open looking for some other ways to reach your target audience? Well, who am I to persuade you, and yes, a good marketing campaign would use several different forms of media. The question is how to distribute the marketing money. So, here come some figures on how most Americans spend it. And some figures that explain why.
Your target market probably receives hundreds of freebies yearly. If you do not do your homework, your items could become inconsequential and even work against you.
People expect more
Lifestyles are changing, and so are promo items. The usual tumbler that multiplied sales for start-ups in the 1950’s just doesn’t cut it anymore – people want insulated, sturdier, nicer-looking drinkware. Consider your target’s tastes and requirements, and then you can safely invest in promo items that will never fail.
This was the lesson learned the hard way by one of our clients – a small software company. Before coming to rushIMPRINT, they hired a promo item peddler that let them spend money on rather shoddy-looking desk clocks that lasted only a few months. Their recipients ended up throwing the clocks away (and never bothered to just change the batteries). The company’s money – and reputation – went down the drain with their promotional items.
When they came to us, we advised them to give out computer bags instead. More expensive? Yes. But the bottom line more than makes up for the cost. The bags were used repeatedly by grateful, well-chosen recipients, the company’s reputation improved, and their sales skyrocketed.
Do not be afraid to put money into promotional items. If executed well, they can be the most cost-efficient marketing campaigns you ever do for your business. But remember to research (or at least come to rushIMPRINT for sound advice). This way, you only invest in promotional products that effectively show your appreciation to customers, increase store traffic, increase response, generate sales leads, and even reward employee performance.
So powerful are promo items that they work for consumers of all ages – even to kids, or especially to kids. I was surfing for marketing data when I came across a new bit about the Japanese Nintendo Club’s successful and inexpensive promotional tactic last year, considered one of the best in their industry.
Their attack was simple enough – they gave some nine thousand mobile phone straps (similar to this) to the lucky kids who buy their Final Fantasy game and register its serial number in their website.
Photo from Hahacat
The actual straps are inspired by the game’s characters – the black, white, and red sorcerer
The simple marketing plan worked, proving that even cheaper promotional items can be used as premiums if your audience wants them bad enough. The sales of Nintendo’s version of Final Fantasy hit all-time highs – almost as high as their Pokémon Silver and Pokémon Gold games, which, incidentally, also used promotional items to gain worldwide popularity.
This only goes to show that promotional items never have to be too expensive to work. They can be worth a dollar and still triple your sales. That sure gives meaning to ‘bang for your buck.’
Last Monday I met with a new client – a representative of a local university. She was a very cheerful lady but had no marketing background, and was completely in the dark about what promo item to choose. At the top of her list were magnets – she wanted ‘refrigerator magnets’ with her university’s logo, and she wanted the enrollment and inquiry trunk line imprinted, too.
I could understand where she was coming from. Magnets are, after all, among the cheapest promo items, and at roughly $0.56 each, they fall right within her budget. But when I asked her what exactly she wishes to accomplish with these magnets, she answered, ‘to promote ourselves to high school seniors so that they would consider us for college.’
RED ALERT. The common mistake people make when choosing promo items is choosing in terms of price. The cheapest is not always the most effective. In this case, for example, the magnets will only stay in the student’s refrigerators at home (if it even makes it there), where they can sit idle with no promotional leverage. These magnets will fail miserably at spreading the word among other students.
For few more cents, she could really promote the school. Students can use their pens and rulers in class and tell their friends, “This school is where I’m going to for college.”
Now that is efficient promotion for less than $1 each.
Another growing trend in the lead generation industry is the ‘referral marketing,’ which, according to surveys, is one of the best methods of generating constant streams of customers and potential customers. In fact, about 70 percent of internet users say that they do visit the websites of companies referred by people they know.
The problem: How do you get people to refer your products and services to other buyers? The answer: Offer them incentives. You can give your referrers discounts, but I suggest you give them more immediate and tangible – free promotional products.
In order for referrers to feel compelled to recommend you to friends, the free items you hand out must be desirable in the first place. Topping the list of the latest and most sought-after promo items these days are technology products – USB sticks, iPOD accessories, and virtually anything computer-related. Stylish branded bags and wearables still appeal to the ladies. Throw in useful shoe bags and you just might get more leads.
The keys to maintaining your referral marketing system are consistency and innovation. Send the free items when you say you are going to, and introduce new ones regularly, or better yet, let the referrer choose from among many. This way, people do not get tired of telling potential customers about you. The grapevine is still one of the most effective promotional channels. Make it work for you by using promo items.
Whoever said that direct mailing is passé obviously hasn’t read the latest statistics. Direct mailing is still one of the best methods to target ‘best buyers’ and widen customer base. It’s so effective, in fact, that many businesses claim to have doubled their profits within just 1.5 years by using direct mailing.
But let’s face it – target consumers receive hundreds of direct mails everyday, and it can be pretty difficult to stand out. You can use colorful envelopes, emblazon them with catchy tag lines, but your mail can still go straight to the trash, unread.
How do you get your target’s attention? Give free stuff. Everybody loves free stuff. Throw in a promotional item or two and watch your target customers go from “I’ve never heard of that company before” to “Yes, I know that company,” and finally, to “We buy from them. They’re great!”
Choose the right promotional item to complement your direct mail carefully. Avoid ‘dormant’ items – they will likely get thrown out, too, together with your mail. Instead send something useful and practical. Ask yourself what you would use. A tasteful shirt, a nice CD case, golf balls, or even a handy tool kit should do the trick.
I noticed that some of our clients are now shifting to higher-quality, higher cost items and imprinted with their logo alongside the manufacturer’s. Cutter and Buck pens, four-piece portable cafes, and Nike apparel are some of the most-ordered higher-end items.
Perhaps it has a lot to do with brand extension. When our clients sponsor a golf tournament, for example, they want something more than just visibility – they also want to be associated with a top brand. Who can blame them? Branding has always been proven to reinforce recall.
Even the top brands realize this. Nike, for example, now permits company logos to be embroidered next to ‘the swoosh,’ and many other top brands are doing the same. The benefits are mutually-beneficial. Top brands sell more products, and logos of companies promoting themselves are exposed and connected to trusted names. The old-school formula works yet again: association = memory.
Aspiring for a new identity is much easier than actually creating one. That is especially true for smaller businesses, I think. But when an unknown business name is seen alongside a well-established logo, the tides change. That is the miracle of branding.
This is we carry (and expand our line of) ‘branded’ promotional products, especially in apparel. Most of our clients know the advantages of simply being associated with a famous brand. They know the difference between putting your logo on this…
…and on just an ordinary shirt.
Aside from the ‘prestige’ of the brand, our clients also pay for the quality. After all, a shirt made of 60% cotton with hemmed bottoms and cuffs is more likely to last longer than the average shirt. Recipients are also likely to hold on to them longer. And in promo items, ‘shelf life’ is the key – the longer the item is used, the more the client’s name is advertised, and the higher the return of their investment.