After COVID-19, What Role Will Promotional Products Have in Marketing?
We know business will be different, but how? Will client budgets be right-sized and constricted? What will events like trade shows look like? To what extent will the virtual world remain? What about hiring practices when business begins to operate again? Will there be employee morale and productivity challenges? Is social media going to have a hangover? Will businesses be eager to invest and spend money?
Here are a few predictions and ruminations that I hope helps as we all dig out and back in.
1. New Products
This is the No. 1 thing buyers ask about. “What’s new?” “What’s hot?” Suppliers, now is the time for research and development. Give marketers answers to those questions to generate excitement and sales.
2. Invest in Great Design
I think logos should be subordinate to great design and messaging that will better represent the meaning behind brands. I respect the need for consistent logo impressions, but most logos have a disconnect with meaning. To reinforce my point, would you prefer a mug with just a Starbucks logo or a mug with a beautiful design with the Starbucks logo in a more discreet location?
3. Work From Home
Home is a new work domain for many of us. Working from bed with barking dogs and toddlers wearing superhero capes running behind you has become mainstream. So, what are the right premium giveaways we can provide to WFH employees and customers to assist them in their home environments?
4. Branded Masks
Masks will become the new hat. They are a trifecta power product. They are fashion. They deliver function. And they are deeply connected to purpose. And we all know that the 5th “P” of marketing is “purpose."
5. Cost Savings
Businesses will spend less on travel. Office footprints will shrink. How can you redirect those savings into an investment in marketing? Great marketing that produces results?
6. Direct Mail
There will be a direct mail resurgence. Deliver on creativity, logistics and how not to clog landfills with excess packaging or lame giveaways, and win.
That is all.
8. Online Programs
Branded gear that is easy to access will be critical to reinforcing the connection with customers, prospects and employees. Consider how to use 24/7 online storefronts through social media engagement, referral appreciation and affinity programs to remind buyers that your business cares about them and wants to participate in helping them rebound.
9. The Role of the Company
I hope empathy will linger in boardrooms. Corporate compassion (the “human brand”) is essential in attracting and retaining talent and customers. Consumers now have access to once-inaccessible public insights through social media, comments and ubiquitous cameras. The business behind the marketing jingle has been exposed. Buyers now know what companies are really about. And consumers vote with their dollars. Brands need the speed of trust and connection. Marketing better align with who brands really are, or marketing will be a liability.
There must be a renewed focus on taking care of employees. Being good to Momma Earth. Supporting community and using brands for good. How can promotional products help marketing and human resources departments with recognition and retention efforts? There is a heap of opportunity in the answer.
So, now the question is, “Where to from here?” If we can anticipate the changes in business after the pandemic, the promotional products industry will thrive. It can prepare and prevent versus repair and repent. This creative industry is known for its ability to deliver long-lasting impressions and calls to action, to evoke emotion, to be a medium for connection, and to drive business and recognize those who deserve the bright light. We will adapt by creating new products, services and thinking to deliver marketing success.
Now is the time for transformation. Happy future-casting. Be well.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.