They're everywhere, Found in virtually every household and office in America; they're on the desks, in pockets, and on the refrigerators of millions of people. They're stuffed into cars, briefcases, drawers and cupboards, performing their job year in and year out.
What are they? They're promotional products. Those omnipresent imprinted items (pens, magnets, mugs, key tags, caps, calendars, t-shirts, matchbooks, etc.) that carry the advertising message of countless corporations and businesses. In the hands of consumers, employees and other target groups, promotional products give a company (and its logo or ad message) long-term exposure and connect with recipients in a unique and personal way, becoming a part of their daily lives at home and at work.
While promotional products are easy to find, especially on the internet, one promotional products expert warns buyers of specialty advertising to not simply buy items based on price. "It is important to purchase items from a company that specializes in promotional branding for their clients." Bill Litton, President of Independent Ad Specialties, advises customers to consider factors such as their target audience, intended goals, cost per impression and differentiation when planning their promotional advertising needs. He says, "gone are the days when any item, at any price or quality level, and distributed by any means, will build your brand." He has compiled a list of tips to consider when choosing not just a promotional item, but also the company from which you purchase them. He notes, "companies give careful deliberation when choosing an ad agency for their creative campaigns, selecting a promotional partner - online or offline - should be done with the same amount of care and consideration."
Choose a distributor that can go beyond just selling products. Successful promotion campaigns don¹t happen by chance. To realize goals, promotional products programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained. While it¹s true that you can buy a product anywhere, not everywhere will you find professionalism and a firm that cares about your project and getting results.
Choose a professional whose primary focus is selling and designing promotional products. You wouldn't go to a dentist for heart surgery, so why buy your promotional products through an office supply products company or a print broker?
Look for Promotional Product Distributors who are experts in their field and members of their professional trade associations such as ASI and PPAI. If you are not sure or are buying from an online firm, read the Company profile page to see if there are any customer comments or testimonials. Don't be afraid to ask for references.
Reputable promotional merchandise companies have access to vast product research resources, including an extensive database which contains more than 500,000 products. Yes, you can find a mug online, but a distributor can find hundreds of mugs, in a multitude of colors, sizes, shapes, materials, and designs. Think about expense in terms of money, time, effort, and results. Have you saved money if you get the mugs and they are not the right color? Is it worth the extra savings if you get the mugs and they are so breakable due to inferior materials that they are virtually unusable?
Consider your distributor as more than just a salesperson. Chances are you will buy promotional products more than once in your life. Once a company uses a distributor, that relationship often continues for years and even decades. Your promotional products distributor is someone with whom you have worked with, someone you know and someone you trust. In many cases, companies use the distributor as part of the creative team, even including him or her in marketing meetings.
Professional Distributor firms are in tune with the trends, including hot items and the newest products and processes. A qualified distributor can add creativity, innovation and imagination to your overall program to achieve your goals. Many online services show you the products they want to sell; a qualified distributor will listen to what you want and help you find the right product for your needs often providing tangible samples that appeal to your senses.
Industry distributors can offer experienced advice on how (and IF) to imprint items. You may have found the perfect key chain, but will your logo imprint on it? Will it be recognizable? Some things don't work or there might be something else that will work better. A qualified promotional products distributor can explain to you the best printing process for your program, your imprint and the product you've chosen.
Trained distributors can save you money in the long run. Many times, a price you see in a generic catalog or on the internet does not cover many "hidden" costs involved such as set-up, imprint duplication, shipping, etc. A professional should help you avoid unexpected and unbudgeted costs by quoting the total price up-front.
Choose a company that will work with you to get your artwork imprinted properly. For example, you want your company's logo embroidered on a golf shirt. How do you ensure it will be done properly and with the correct colors? A trained distributor will work with you to accurately transfer your artwork, including analyzing correct fonts, size, spacing and other important factors.
Consider a firm that can assist you in developing a workable distribution plan for your products. Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products. But what if the cost of distributing your product is more than the product and more than your expected return on investment? Experienced, reputable distributor firms can help you avoid unanticipated problems like this.
Lastly, Mr. Litton tells customers to stop looking at promotional items as simply a commodity-based business. If you do that, you cheapen your brand. "After all, every promotional idea and logoed merchandise item you giveaway will have a direct reflection on your company and/or your message. Whether you spend $0.25 per unit or $200, look at how the item will tie-in to your overall advertising goals and select a company who is interested in more than getting your one-time order, but building a mutually beneficial promotional partnership."