Are You Hurting Your Brand?

Recently we had an experience with a company. Our sister company, PDI, was looking to buy a very expensive piece of equipment, ranging in about the £60,000 sort of region. It's a large investment for any company. The sales meeting went great, and everything was going swimmingly. However, then the meeting was closed with a small gift. The salesman left on the desk two promotional products. A pen and some post-it notes.

We do not need to be in the promotional product industry to know that the pen quality was bad. Think about the impression that might give off for a second. We are looking to spend £60,000 on your company, and the promotional gift you give to say as a thank you is probably a 40p gift. Now, money isn't everything and it is the thought that counts, and we appreciate that. That being said, an office is hardly short of both pens and paper. We were thoroughly under-impressed and it got us thinking: did he actually hinder his sale by giving us the wrong promotional gift?

The answer is probably yes. The cost of the gifts aside, it says something about the brand when they are unwilling to spend less than a few quid towards someone about to make a large investment towards your company. Wouldn't you feel the same?

In fact, we decided collectively that he would have done far better to give us nothing than give us anything. Now, promotional products are an ideal medium to use to help close sales - that has been proven. That being said, it's important to choose the right promotional gift - choose something that will impress rather than make the client question their decision. If one of your competitors gives nothing they could still beat you to it.

How to Choose the Right Gift

There are two key essentials to picking a promotional product. The first option you can do is buy them something that you know they like because your relationship marketing efforts are strong. If you know they are a golf fan it might be worth getting them a lot of golf balls. But then you want to order in large quantities so you might want to choose something that either relates to your brand or pick something that everyone likes. For instance, we had the FIFA World Cup earlier this year, and with the country raving about football, a load of promotional footballs would have gone much further than any other item they would have received during the months of June and July.

The second key to picking a promotional product is to make it memorable. A pen and post-it notes are easily forgotten, left in a desk drawer somewhere, and even if they are used, the logo on the front is not remembered at all. The key is to get something that people will never forget, something that they will pick up and look at. For instance, the midi rugby balls that we do are ideal promotional gifts. People pick them up, they are thrown around the office and anyone who walks by the desk is going to have their eyes drawn to it. It's also a gift that will not be replicated. In the course of a year you might receive twenty or more pens, but you'll only get one rugby ball. Which do you think you'll remember more?

How to Think of Something Memorable

Choosing a memorable gift is a challenge, as you might not know the client well enough to get something you know they'll like. So, our advice to is choose something related to your brand, but something unusual. If you were a company selling whiskey, some branded glasses would be a nice touch. If you were a film production company, think about a stress ball in the shape of a clapperboard.

There is one thing you can do though to avoid sending out the wrong gift. That is to see what everyone else is doing. If these people are doing it, you have no chance to stand out from the crowd of your competitors. These gifts are boring and would be happily replaced by the next person who comes along with the exact same item as you.

See our page about the BPMA data here.

  • Pens - 66% of organisations hand these out to people. Yes, people write all the time, even if they are mainly computer-based, but it is not an effective product, is not going to inspire or bring any loyalty.
  • Notebook - 43% of businesses hand these out. These might be nice for training courses but no heads are going to turn at the sight of one of these.
  • Mug - 20% of companies hand out promotional gifts like these.
  • Mouse Mat and Coaster - 17% of organisations hand these out in the hope that their brand would be remembered.

Choose something different. It's time to get creative.


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