It’s getting to that time of year again: the time when we have that conversation about whether we should – or are even allowed – to send Christmas cards, calendars or chocolates to our favourite customers or suppliers.

Outside of IT departments, Marketing are the teams spending the most money on technology, both devices and software. Video is the current trend; the ability to tell your story in person.  In this digital world, with squeezed marketing budgets, is there still room for promotional gifts? 

We think there is, if chosen carefully, probably because your competitors aren’t willing to spend the money.  Yes, there is increasing awareness – quite rightly – of anti-bribery and corruption regulations and certainly some organisations will have a policy on what ‘gifts’ their staff can and cannot accept.  However, a well-chosen item that has value in its usefulness (rather than its cost) is likely to be happily received by even the most conscientious of staff members.

So how do promotional items contribute to your marketing objectives?  We can think of four really strong reasons to consider them.

1. Loyalty and retention

A useful and thoughtful promotional gift helps bolster loyalty and customer retention.  Whether a seasonal offering or an event giveaway, a useful gift that is likely to be used for many weeks or months to come, helps to keep you top of mind with your customer. We’ve even seen gifts used effectively as an incentive to drive online engagements, almost as a reward for loyalty (“Our 1000th Twitter follower wins…!”).

2. Increase leads and generate sales

Promotional items are likely to please potential new customers as well as existing ones.  Again, you need to tread the fine line between ‘useful freebie’ and anything that could be perceived to constitute a bribe but, chosen well, your item could sit on your potential customer’s desk (or dashboard) for weeks, reminding them how useful your services could be to them.

3. Increased brand recognition

Every sale is the result of a customer journey (some shorter than others).  Even if you are not yet at ‘pitching’ stage for work, a well-timed giveaway can provide another touchpoint for a potential customer.  It can help make your organisation memorable so that, when the need arises, your business is the first they think of. 

4. Cost effective Marketing Strategy

Promotional items are another way to get your brand visibility.  By being creative with what you chose, you can project your business’s personality and stand out from your competition.  We all know that some giveaways are passed on to others but that could just be getting you in front of a whole new audience.  And, compared to some other marketing activities, promotional items can offer a pretty low ‘cost per impression’.

Promotional items do have impact – perhaps even more so in a digital world, where so little is tangible anymore.  We can quote you examples of elusive leads who have finally picked up the ‘phone after receipt of a desk calendar.  Or, the classic example, of the iron-clad receptionist who won’t pass your call but will happily pass on the message on your branded telephone message pad!

Blog co-authored with The Print Lady, Ainslie Chivers