Promotional Products as an Engagement Strategy: Part 1 of 3
Promotional products are a communications tool that can engage all five senses. They are a creative way of not only informing, but for interacting with an audience by providing a sensory experience. Promotional products can be any tangible item usually imprinted with an organization's message, branding or promise.
Unlike other advertising media which interrupt the recipient, promotional products engage an audience. They are often the beginning of a relationship. They are the one communication tactic for which people say "thank you" when they receive it. Practitioners like to point out that promotional products are the original medium of engagement and the very beginnings of the industry indicate that it was born to engage people.
While promotional products in America can be traced back to commemorative buttons for President George Washington, and there were some advertising calendars, rulers and wooden items prior to the forming of the industry, it was a printer in Coshocton, Ohio by the name of Jasper Meeks who is considered the father of the industry. Meeks was able to convince the local shoe store to buy book bags imprinted with the store's message and to give them out for free to the local school. Soon, a competitor picked up on that idea and soon they were selling all kinds of items imprinted with the messages of local businesses.
Each item imprinted with an organization's message stimulates some basic human gratification factors. The act of giving and receiving is the basis of a relationship and engenders goodwill, trust and loyalty. The law of reciprocity comes into play, as the recipient desires to return the positive feelings to the giver. The high perceived value creates a high pass-along rate as well. The PPAI Promotional Products Awareness and Usage Study found that 88 percent of recipients recall the advertiser and 62 percent recalled the message on promotional products received in the past twelve months!* A recall level that would suggest strong affinity and appreciation for the giver.
Organizations wishing to build stronger bonds of engagement with their stakeholders often choose promotional products such as: apparel; writing instruments; drinkware; bags; lifestyle products; awards; desk and business accessories; electronic devices; computer products; health, safety and wellness items; and food products.
This is an engaging tactic for:
- APPRECIATION: For extra efforts, loyalty, patronage or donor support.
- RECOGNITION: Of outstanding achievement and for reinforcement of positive behaviors.
- MARKETING: In a way that informs, influences and enables. Turning strangers into friends, friends into customers and customers into advocates.
- BRANDING: To create long-term awareness, engagement and action.
- PRESENCE: Extending the organization's presence beyond a specific location, event or program on items that are carried with an implied endorsement by their recipient and that start conversations and create word-of-mouth continuity of message.
- INCENTIVE: Offering lifestyle enhancing products or products that serve as a reward for acting now. The huge variety of items that excite, engage and motivate people to pay attention and perform with enthusiasm.
- TRAINING: Teaching new skills, reinforcing key messages and communicating culture and values require repetition and multiple exposures to a message. Placing key learning messages on items that are kept, are used multiple times will do just that. Plus, because they engage all five of the senses, promotional products are a tool that can appeal to a variety of learning styles and audiences.
This is the first of a three part series that make up the chapter on promotional products in the curriculum for enterprise engagement. This text book teaches end-users and practitioners how to improve engagement throughout their organization.