Small businesses have to find ways to use subtlety to their advantage. Without huge teams and budgets to launch giant over-the-top marketing campaigns, we have to be smarter, and use a minimal amount of resources to create the biggest possible impact. Choosing promotional items may seem like an unimportant decision, one that could easily be written off. But it shouldn’t be, because these little things can be a big deal. It’s a quiet little way to speak loudly about the real message of your company. Giving your customers insight into how you think, what you represent and how you belong in their lives.
Have a Little fun with It
Professionalism is important in any industry sure, but sometimes it’s ok to loosen the tie a little, remove the cuff-links and let our hair down. Being a little more relaxed and personal can make a business easier to connect with on a human level. So what says personality more than branded items that show a fun side? I’ve walked the isles of enough expos to know that it’s the interesting swag that catches my eye. Bright colors and whimsical designs can be attention grabbers. While mingling humor and tact can be a delicate balance for a business, a little bit can go along way. Look at what the Old Spice guy did for a cologne usually associated with old men?
The trick is to use levity without running the risk of being offensive. One of the most diverse options for showing a little personality is stress balls. Because there are a lot more options than just squishy round balls these days. Think about a gym using a Couch Potato stress toy. It makes you smile and feel guilty all at the same time. Yo-yos and Frisbees are easily imprinted and fun for kids of all ages. Mouse pads too are a blank palate begging for a little quirky humor. The fact is you are only limited by your imagination, creativity and sense of humor. It’s ok to relax a little; it’s ok to make people smile. And you may even find that when you do, people are more drawn to you than ever.
There is a huge movement going on in this country right now trying to shift the public mentality toward healthy living. Branded items are actually a great way to use that trend to your company’s advantage. When you demonstrate an awareness of major national issues, it shows you as a socially conscious company that genuinely cares about its customers. So why not show that compassionate and motivational side by giving out health related promotional products?
You don’t have to be in a health related industry to encourage people to get out and get active. There are so many possibilities for products related to health; it’s all a matter of what you want to say. There are water bottles, which encourage drinking more water, pedometers which support walking more, gym bags and equipment, hand exercisers, weights and even golf balls, all of which speak to healthy active lifestyles. If you get into the mind set of promoting positive life choices along with promoting your business, you are attaching yourself to a winning concept. It’s also a great way to demonstrate that you are a company that cares about the people they serve. No only do you want customers for life, you want those lives to be as long and healthy as possible.
While most logo products are useful and serve a function, there are a certain set which aim to quietly blend into life. While pens and pencils and notepads may not be the most attention getting free stuff at a conference, they do tend to find their way onto desks. When you decide to go this route it’s not about sending an overt message about health or personality, this is a much more subliminal message.
I have office supplies strewn about my home and office that are branded with different company names. I see those names every day, when I reach for a pen or write myself a note. They are in the background of my day but when I use one it brings each company to the front of my mind. Yes, these can also be among the most cost effective promo items to mass produce, which also means they are not exactly the most unique choice.
The art of choosing your branded items is to really have a strategy. Not every product is appropriate for every situation. If you are in a trade show situation where you have to compete with other shiny baubles everywhere, go big; go for attention grabbing and memorable. If you are passionate as a company about something, like health or the environment, share that passion with your customers through the products you choose to give them. And for a version of a business card that won’t get thrown into a rolodex, or worse, give out a useful office trinket. But above all, think about what message you want to send. Because your choice of products can either be a lost opportunity, or chance to say something special about who you are and what you represent.
Guest Author – Jana Trop writes for a promotional products site and has been active in marketing, branding and blogging for several years.