We bring you real-life examples of businesses that successfully employed customized promotional giveaways and event supplies into their marketing strategies and business plans.
A janitorial firm needed a low-cost and effective way to promote its post-construction cleanup services at a local business expo, so the company ordered a big box of custom clean-up brush & pan sets. The customization printed onto the brushes read, “Our Services Will Sweep You Away.” Unfortunately, we can’t share the name of the firm due to an NDA agreement.
The promotional item was a hit at the local business expo. In the following six months, the janitorial firm’s sales grew by over 30%. The relationships that were made and/or developed at the expo significantly contributed that 30% growth, and the clean-up brush & pan played a significant role in cementing those relationships for the long term.
As potential customers used the clean-up brush & pan around the office or construction site, it served as a subtle reminder of the janitorial firm’s services. When their construction gigs ended and it was finally time to hire a post-construction cleanup crew, there was clearly only one brand on their minds.
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Trade show giveaways, such as free shirts, are one of the most effective ways to boost brand awareness within your target audience, but the key is making sure your giveaway is not prematurely chucked into a trash can or hidden in a bag. Achieve this effect by designing a marketing campaign around your promotional giveaway instead of just handing out free stuff.
Handing out promotional giveaways at trade shows is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. The goal is to turn fans and potential customers into walking billboards for your brand - and also sell to those same swag-wielding folks - but since everyone at the show is handing out promotional items to everyone else, it’s harder than ever to get attendants to use your giveaway in public.
Giveaways Are Not Marketing Campaigns
Most trade-show exhibitors assume their free giveaways are their marketing campaigns, but that’s not how you should craft your presence at the show. The giveaway should only be a small component of a larger marketing machine, not the machine itself. Below, I craft an easy example for a video game publisher, but you may need to adjust the details of the plan to better fit your business and audience.
+ It all starts with a brand that other people want. If no one could ever want your brand, no amount of skillful marketing is going to change that. However, if your brand is worthy, you should see great success from this campaign. If you are confident that your brand would sell if people were introduced to it, you are on the right track. For this example, let’s pretend we run the marketing team for a gaming company.
+ You’ll need a low-cost promotional shirt or hat to give away at the trade show. Of course, you’ll add your logo, URL and/or message to the shirt, which is a service provided by a company like AnyPromo.com. You’ll need a lot of shirts, which is why they shouldn’t be expensive, but you don’t want to go so cheap as to encourage folks to prematurely trash your giveaway. If the shirt is of decent quality, fans will wear it long after trade show. For this example, let’s pretend we ordered 2,500 Hanes tees for less than $2.00 each from AnyPromo.com. These shirts brandish our brand logo, game logo, store URL and fashionable artwork.
+ Before you arrive at the trade show, craft a plan that encourages others to actually wear the shirts on the show floor. It is not good enough to simply give the shirts away. One of my favorite ideas is a contest that awards random shirt-wearing attendants at random times throughout the show.
A video-game publisher would bring along a few extra employees to covertly search for shirt-wearing attendants all over the show floor in order to offer them free copies of games. Coupons, gift cards and actual money are also great prizes. The goal of the campaign is the buzz it can produce as fans, potential customers and competitors will certainly discuss the masses of shirt-wearing fans, and once word spreads, you may even find a line at your booth for free shirts. A long line is also one of the best marketing tools your brand can have at a trade show.
+ For the next trade show, you may switch out the shirts for tote bags or another promotional giveaway that appeals to your audience. You don’t want to repeat the same campaign at every show as its effect will wear out if it’s used too often. However, you may decide to pull the same stunt at the same show every year. It could be a fun and memorable tradition that your fans anticipate.
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If you’re a fan of #DIY crafts for party favors and trade show giveaways, you should consider adding a personal touch to your event with homemade envelopes in the shape of a related object. This guide is specifically for dumpling-shaped envelopes, but with a little creativity, you can adjust the instructions to create other shapes, such as tacos or muffins.
Themed envelopes can carry anything, including an invite to a lunch pitch or a thanks note coupled with a restaurant gift card. In this case, Erin Jang of The Indigo Bunting put together a set of custom invitations for a friend’s baby shower. The invitations take the shape of a dumpling, and this is how she did it (along with our advice on customizing the project for other shapes/themes).
Step 0 - Gather Your Materials
+ The envelope is made of three layers: an inner layer made of thick paper, a transparent mid layer made of tissue paper, and a touch-friendly outer layer made of cloth. You will also need scissors, a stapler and either a printer or coloring materials, such as markers.
Step 1 - Design, Print and Cut
+ Write or print the invite details on a small piece of paper. Put it to the side. We’ll use it again in step two.
+ Cut a circle-ish shape from dark paper, and fold it in half (like a taco). You can write the first part of your message on the outside of this inner layer. To maximize interest, use a general statement that doesn’t give too much away, such as “let’s have lunch” The mid-layer of the envelope takes the shape of the dumpling itself, though it’s very flat and transparent.
+ To customize this guide for other shapes, you can cut these inner layers in any shape that fits your theme. You can also adjust the colors to fit your desired shape. For example, if you’re building an apple, use a white circle made from construction paper for the inner layer. Use red tissue paper for the mid layer.
Step 2 - Assemble the Inserts
+ Place the invite details into the inner layer of the envelope, and cover the inner layer of the envelope with the middle white layer.
Step 3 - Close the Envelope
+ If you want to maximize the “wow” factor, give your envelope some depth. In this case, Jang inserted candy between the mid layer and the outer layer.
+ Finally, close the outer layer of the envelope with staples. For custom shapes, a different closing mechanism, such as glue or stitches, may be more appropriate. For example, staples could work for muffin-shaped envelopes since the dumplings look a bit like muffin tops. You’d just add the muffin bottom. On the other hand, tacos would require glue and an additional ornament that sticks out of the top, such as spiky green paper, to represent lettuce.
+ If you can spare a few more minutes, check out the whole guide for more, including an idea for a book of comments submitted by the party attendants. Jang used this idea to collect wishes from invitees, but in a business context, you can use a similar idea to collect comments from clients or suggestions from partners.
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