No matter the size of your business, raising brand awareness is crucial for generating leads and increasing sales. The more in touch you are with your customer base, the better. There are plenty of methods for engaging with your audience, including social media channels, a website, printed advertising, television/radio ads, email marketing, and face-to-face interactions.
One other method that you may not have considered is the use of branded merchandise. This marketing channel uses promotional products printed with brand information as tools for raising awareness in the public sphere. The more people use the items in public, the more impressions your company can make.
However, there are both right and wrong ways to pursue a branded merchandise marketing campaign. Before you start investing in promotional items on a whim, here are a few guidelines to follow with this strategy.
Target Your Audience Niche
Understanding the customer matters for every aspect of business, from product development to customer service to marketing. What makes these people tick? What messaging connects with their emotions? Where are they most likely to interact with your brand? For some businesses, internet marketing is the best way to connect with audiences, while in-person interactions is more effective for others.
Identifying the niche you occupy and how that specific audience behaves should guide your branded merchandise strategy. Fortunately, the internet can benefit your brand in a plethora of ways, including audience research, engagement, and customer service. With these tools, you can plan a successful promotional product strategy.
Choose Quality Products
The wrong items can derail a merchandise campaign. A lot of your success will depend on what items would connect with your audience. Focusing on quality over quantity can also make a difference. Purchasing 100 useless and cheap items that will never be used won’t gain any leads for your business. But ten high-quality products that are used every week will generate far more impressions for the brand.
Some examples of great promotional items include tote bags, t-shirts, koozies, stadium cushions for sports fans, stress balls, and phone stands. Each of these items is actually useful for people, so they will be excited to carry it around, displaying your brand logo and company name to others.
When and where you offer these promotional items matters just as much as who you offer them to. In the right context, a piece of merchandise can garner a lot of attention. This method of marketing is particularly effective for local businesses that are attempting to build awareness in their community.
If there are local festivals or parades coming up, try to host a booth where you serve some treats and hand out branded prizes for small contests. Is there a charity 5k that your target audience would be interested in attending? Hand some team shirts out to your employees and run the race together to promote the brand. If your industry often involves trade shows, bring some helpful office supplies and wellness gifts with you. Bringing some promotional items to job fairs at which you are recruiting may give you a competitive advantage.
Integrate the Campaign with other Marketing Initiatives
A multi-pronged approach to marketing is almost always more effective. It allows you to reach a broader audience through multiple touchpoints. The more engagement you create, the more likely your brand is to stick in the minds of potential customers.
Integrating your branded merchandise strategy with other marketing channels can increase your reach and help you experience more of the benefits that promotional items can provide. Advertise a giveaway on social media, maybe as a contest to increase engagement. Promote the items with a big sign outside your store or at a busy intersection. Include a QR code in the design of the merchandise where people can access your website directly from their phone. You can get very creative with how you promote these giveaways, which in turn will promote the brand to more people and build customer loyalty.
Create an Eye-Catching Design
Merchandise is useless if no one notices it. For this reason, you need to combine a quality item that people will use with an eye-catching design that others will notice. See if you can incorporate your logo into the product in an interesting way. Do you have boring logo that you created years ago? Ditch it for a better version or focus more on the copy.
If you lack the creative touch, reach out to a graphic designer to help you with the project. The investment will be worth it if it grabs the attention of more potential customers.
Make it Make Sense
A promotional product campaign that is completely disconnected from your business values or the product you sell could end up confusing consumers. For example, if you focus on environmentalism with your products, it is probably unwise to give away plastic water bottles which often end up in the wrong places. Instead, opt for a reusable water bottle or items made from recycled materials.
Align the products you invest in with your mission statement and the needs of your target audience. By following this strategy, and the others mentioned above, you will be positioned well for a successful marketing campaign that raises awareness, builds customer loyalty, and generates new leads.