“Think like a customer.”
-Paul, Gillin, author
SIMPLE STARTER PROMOTIONAL PRODUCT CATALOG
Part of growing your business includes telling people that your business exists. Pretty simple concept, right? You can do that in a lot of ways, but one way you do that is by creating products that have important information about your business to get in potential customers hands and out into the areas your business is competing in. The media you use can vary. This blog will provide 10 simple items any business can use to start their promotional product catalog. The assumption is that you are a new or reforming business that hasn’t been in the public eye. That means I am going to present items to help spread a variety of business information.
TOP TEN PROMOTIONAL ITEMS
Standard Issue Promotional Products
Most major brands employ a range of advertising and promotional products, but you have most likely picked up one or more of the items in our list below. These are the most widespread and widely used categories of a standard promotional product catalog.
Pens are a cheap and easy way to get your name and logo out to a customer. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can add more or less value to those you supply a pen to and put an equal amount of information. Cheap stick pens might only have a logo and a website or your company’s catchphrase. You will likely want to start with some cheap stick pens, but consider looking for a slightly higher quality and larger barrel pen to put your logo and your address or contact information. Logos are nice, but if no one knows how to find you, what good is it? And pens travel everywhere…and get left everywhere.
BPA Free water bottles are a staple in the promotional product field. Like pens, they remain relevant because of the general usefulness of the product. People need water. People like free things. A free water bottle makes sense. Water bottles cost a little more than a stick pen, but the size of the bottle gives you a great opportunity to tell your story with an image (logo), brand catchphrase, contact information. A big part of promotions is where the item will be seen. Water bottles go with their owners on family trips, to work, to the gym, and generally anywhere someone could bring their own water. Think about all of the places other people will see your logo.
Reusable Shopping Bags
This particular item has grown to prominence. Though you might think its days are numbered, think about this: entire cities are making laws to eliminate plastic shopping bags. I sat in on a sourcing meeting at a major retailer who is adjusting their business model to adapt to this. Reusable bags offer an interesting opportunity to market in public marketplaces while taking care of a growing need. The effects of a growing call to environmental responsibility can already be witnessed at grocery chains. Stores are selling their own reusable bags or customers are bringing them because the company is selling any bag that is used (Aldi). Meet a need, use the giant billboard, and get your brand noticed.
Yes. The drink cozy is still relevant. The can cooler’s relevance stems from pretty much the same need and helpfulness as the water bottle, but it’s cheaper. Note that the can cooler will do a bit less travel. As it is primarily used for cold cans, places where less is more (biking, camping, church or public outings, even the car ride to the store) will likely cause limitations on travel. I recommend being a bit more strategic with this item.
This is one of my personal favorites. I may be a bit biased, but I love the billboard space and the opportunity to sell my story through a few different versions of a company shirt. You may have a simpler strategy for branding and thus a few more limitations, but having at least one shirt or apparel item will likely do you well.
Whether you are squeezing a stress ball or throwing it around at the office, company after company continues to invest in this classic. You will likely find a stress ball positioned at a desk in the workplace or at home. Check in pencil cups or desktops to see how accurate we are.
Custom Issue Products
The custom issue products you will find below are not used in all major brand promotional product catalogs, but they probably should be. Trends point to finding success when using these items as a mixer in your promo “goodie bags”.
Product or Marketplace Replica
This is a bit different. The goal here is to make it clear what you sell. You want to have something that represents your business market. If you are a bank or financial institution it might be a little gold brick, replica of cash or coin, or even a checkbook cover. Regardless of what you choose, the goal is to have something that looks cool and would be worth setting somewhere visible. The goal here is not to have a ton of these, but to display them and have people pick them up or ask about them. Think about the Staples “Easy Button”.
Look at your customers and find out how they are using their mobile devices. Promotional product suppliers are always looking for new ways to break into the mobile market with their product line. I’ve seen USB chargers, mobile batteries and charging pads, cellphone cases, pad cases, straps for holding the device out to take selfies, and, of course, the selfie stick (and various knock offs). As technology changes, companies come up with new ways to innovate and push the way we use it. Look for a unique mobile market product to get your brand around. Depending on your budget this can vary. Also depending on your budget will be the strategy of to whom and when to give it out.
A Mobile Application
I wrote an article that gives a bit more detail than I will address here. Look for a way to get a mobile app or advertising on a mobile app. This will require some thought and could also require working with an app developer or using a service that helps you make your own. Not everyone will begin with an app, but I definitely recommend looking at it, even if it is simple in design and service.
LET THE FUN BEGIN
Now that you know what the “pros” use as their go-to items in their promo grab bags, you are well on your way to building your own starter promotional product catalog. Make sure to take the time to really dig into the options out there and infuse your unique company personality into whatever you use. Happy hunting! Here is a link for a list of the top suppliers in the field.
For more on Branding, check out our blog series: