More than Swag: Why Branded Premiums are Smart Marketing

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More than Swag: Why Branded Premiums are Smart Marketing

BNA-UmbrellaIt rained in Cleveland yesterday and when I reached for my umbrella, I saw the logo on the fabric and had a flashback:

The company where I worked in Washington, DC in the 1990s (BNA, a legal publisher now part of Bloomberg) gave this branded umbrella to prospects at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries more than 20 years ago.

What’s noteworthy about an old umbrella, besides the fact that I haven’t been umbrella shopping in a long time?

Branded premiums and promotional products can be an extremely effective tactic in a smart marketing strategy. Here’s why you should be using branded premiums and seven tips for selecting a premium for your business.

Why Marketers Use Branded Premiums

A branded premium is an advertising specialty item that bears a company’s name or logo. Look around your desk or home right now and you’ll find them everywhere: Magnets, notepads, pens, coffee cups, jar openers, key fobs, bag clips, and yes, umbrellas.

Branded premiums help advertisers maintain top-of-mind awareness with customers and prospects. According to the Advertising Specialty Institute, branded promotional products are a $19.4 billion dollar industry and are used by virtually every business in America.

Branded premiums can be effective at trade shows, in direct mail campaigns, and in sales presentations. But with thousands of options to choose from, which ones are right for your business?

Here’s my advice as a marketing consultant about selecting branded premiums for your marketing program.

7 Tips for Choosing Branded Advertising Premiums

  1. Match the premium to the value of the prospect: The size of the sales opportunity should drive your premium budget. Inexpensive branded items like pens and magnets may be the right choice if you encounter hundreds of prospects in frequent face-to-face sales situations, like community health fairs. But if you’re a business-to-business marketer targeting C-suite executives, pens and magnets won’t cut it. Spending $50-75 for a high quality premium can be a good marketing investment if you’re ordering a small quantity for an extremely targeted, well-qualified list of executive prospects.
  2. Select a premium with real utility: Many premiums are cute and clever, but they end up in the trash. I advise clients to pick premiums people can use every day, like clocks, tote bags, portfolios, or mugs, and to consider premiums that sit on a desk when selling to executives.
  3. Smartphone-2_cropped-150x150Choose premiums that are likely to be used repeatedly: A printer in the Cleveland area dropped off branded premiums for our desks that we use every day: Small plastic stands with rubber backing to hold our smartphones. Each morning when I place my iPhone on the stand, I see their logo. That’s brand awareness.
  4. Be wary of wearables: Marketers often choose premiums people wear, like hats and t-shirts. I’ve seen wearable premiums vanish quickly from a trade show booth, but how many hats and tees really get worn once the prospect is back home? I think it’s smarter to order branded clothing for your staff than your prospects.
  5. Offer premiums in your direct marketing campaigns: Adding a branded premium helps sweeten the offer in a direct marketing campaign and spur prospects to act now to receive their free bonus.
  6. Tie your premium to your marketing theme: “Gianfagna” rhymes with “lasagna” and the most successful lead generation marketing approach I’ve ever used for my marketing agency was a lasagna-themed direct mail campaign using branded premiums that played on our tricky name. We sent Gianfagna-branded aprons, measuring spoons and lasagna servers in a three-part series to a small list of Ohio marketing directors. Prospects loved it and everyone remembered our name.
  7. Find a good vendor: Nearly 27 million listings appear on Google when you search for “branded premiums.” I’ve used web vendors with mixed results. Shop online but also look for a good local supplier who can be a real marketing partner: Someone who can meet with you to share ideas and handle all the details of your order, especially for high-end premiums for B2B marketing.

Smart Marketing with Ad Specialties

It’s a smart marketing strategy to give your clients or prospects branded promotional products, especially quality premiums that offer years of value and utility, like my BNA umbrella.

Premium options change constantly, so always check out what’s new. And ask a good advertising specialty vendor or marketing agency to show you new ideas.

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