Keep your corporate gifts out of landfill

Anthony O'Brien


December 4, 2017

Before paying for trinkets such as USB sticks, stress balls, branded pens, cups and mugs, a business must consider whether this is a sensible use of its marketing dollars.

I vividly recall a meeting with a dubious salesman, who greasily tried to sell a sporting club some branded keyrings. It was 2009, and the keyring was a throwback to the 1970s, well before the advent of stress balls. Worse still, the snaky salesman was asking the cash-strapped club to pay $3 a unit. After a little digging on the internet, one of the club directors discovered it was possible to source corporate keyrings in Asia for 30 cents a unit. Suffice to say, that marketing stunt went nowhere.

The case for promo items

Keyrings aside, if you pick the right item, a marketing trinket can be valuable. For example, I’m partial to items that a client will potentially use multiple times and that they will find useful in their daily lives, such as a branded notebook or a portable battery charger for your mobile phone. A power bank delivers excellent value – and while they retail from $49 each, I’m sure your procurement team can negotiate a far better price on a bulk purchase.

Another favoured trinket is the branded golf umbrella, I could never give enough of those away. These kinds of items are useful because they deliver marketing longevity. People will use umbrellas time and time again, and will, in theory, associate them with your brand.

A promotional item may be more useful if it relates directly to your business and brand; for example, IT companies often give away gadgets that match their product offering. Our firm works with a document management company that hands out portable storage devices. If the freebie is useful to your target client, they’ll be more likely to recall your brand.

The case against

Too often, businesses get the promotional giveaway wrong. The doling out of pens and stress balls is overdone, as is the USB key. Marketing departments use these materials to attract people to trade show stands, or as part of a goody bag after a seminar. The trouble is that most of this corporate flotsam ends up in the dustbin. The items are of no marketing value and are merely contributing mountains of waste to landfill. It’s throwing away good money and delivers negligible long-term brand recognition. There are a zillion of these trinket-style promotional items. They’re cheap and nasty and you’d do well to steer clear.

The verdict

If you are considering investing some of your marketing budget in promotional gimmicks, consider the following points:

  1. Will the promotional items add value for my clients?
  2. Will a power bank or branded keyring promote my business in the right light to my clients?
  3. What marketing accessories best enhance my brand?

Planners should stick to higher value items, such as branded notebooks or hampers, in smaller quantities that you choose to give at the right time. For instance, you might present a client with a small token when they decide to do business with you, or at an intimate, focused seminar. Getting the gift timing right will leave you better placed to reap some value, while also presenting your business as a professional organisation.

TOPICS:   marketing blog

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