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15 Tips for Aligning Corporate Swag with Your Marketing Objectives

Everyone knows that corporate swag is an awesome way to spread the word about your brand and engage new and existing customers. But did you know that it’s also a perfect opportunity to boost many of your other marketing objectives? With cool promotional items, you can re-energize your existing customer base, attract new talent and even gain followers from a whole new demographic.

So how do you tailor your giveaway items to meet these marketing goals? The key is to align the DNA of your brand with the audience and the event. Everybody knows that brand storytelling is a big — though often underused — opportunity for marketers, and one of the simplest ways to tell your story is through cool swag. Let your promotional items demonstrate what makes your company unique and exceptional.

Company Swag for Lead GenerationIn the majority of cases, you simply won’t get very far if you don’t have a solid base of prospective customers. Lead generation is all about attracting and converting strangers into loyal fans, and there’s basically no better way to do that than through branded promotional items at trade shows and conferences. Cold-calling is no longer effective; you’ve got to catch potential clients’ attention in more commanding ways.

  • Offer an Incentive — According to Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, reciprocation is one of the most valuable tools in terms of branding. Even small booth giveaways — like a promotional pens or stylus— will encourage conference attendees to feel the need to reciprocate. Invite them to sign up for your e-mail list or follow your company on social media for a branded gift.
  • Give Something Useful — Let’s not kid ourselves. Conference attendees come home drowning in business giveaways. So much so that they may even fail to register the business names in their pile of corporate swag. Pick something useful, like cool tech giveaways, to ensure that your handouts actually get used. The more use your branded gifts get, the more effect they have.
  • Design with Quality — This one’s especially important if you’re prepping for an event, trade show or conference in your specific industry where you know that attendees will be bombarded with competitors. The best trade show giveaways are those that are well-designed and eye-catching so they stand out in a crowd.

Company Swag for Building Brand AwarenessAccording to this powerful study, 50 percent of consumers keep a promotional product for between one and four years. That’s a good chunk of time to make an impression. If your primary goal at your next event or conference is to make your brand a household name, a good place to start is with unique swag items.

  • Choose Something Industry-Specific — How do you tell the story of your brand in a way that’s memorable and relevant? Pick branded swag that’s aligned with your business. Top promotional items are those in the education, technology, financial, healthcare and nonprofit sectors. So if you’re a university angling for more potential students, you can’t go wrong with branded notebooks. If you run in the financial realm, you’ll definitely get attention with wallets featuring your logo.
  • Go (Really) Big With Branding — Did we mention that good design is vital to good swag? When your goal is to improve branding, make sure that you choose corporate swag that puts your logo front-and-center. Your logo should be large and in charge, complemented by messaging that helps prospective clients understand what you do.
  • Leverage Social Media — How do you market your brand at lightning speed in this day and age? Of course, it comes down to social media. Encourage recipients to share swag with their social media followers by creating a unique hashtag. They’ll be more likely to share your giveaway items if it’s something unique or funny. You can even use the gifts as part of your social media sweepstakes to get more visibility.

Company Swag for a New Service or LaunchYou’ve worked hard on your new service or product, and now all you need is some buzz. Cool promotional products are a good way to help garner attention, whether you’re debuting your new product at a launch party or hyping it up pre-launch at an industry event. You’ve just got to make sure you pick the right gifts and the right messaging.

  • Host a Product Launch Event — Before you book the venue, send out the e-vites, secure the catering, and make sure that you’ve got some solid swag ideas on deck as party favors. No good launch party is complete without custom-branded tech swag to fill your gift bags.
  • Customize Swag to the New Product — Just any old branded gear won’t do! Make sure that the swag for your launch party or debut is specific to your new service or product. You can achieve this both through the design of your custom gifts and the product itself. For example, if you’re debuting a new fitness app, choose custom insulated water bottles with your new product’s name clearly positioned.
  • Use Swag as a Pre-Order Incentive — If one of your primary goals for your product launch event is to get people committed to signing up, don’t start the day of launch. Instead, prepare with pre-order promotions that encourage people to sign up early. You can do this by offering affordable, branded gifts for the first group of users.

Company Swag for Entering a New MarketYour swag is only good if it’s actually valuable to your target consumer. That means that if you want to reach new groups of customers, you’ve got to pick promotional items that they’ll actually want to use. Whether you want to break in with a certain age group or expand your business to a new geographical region, promotional messaging can help.

  • Use the Right Wording for Your Audience — One of the most important aspects to breaking into a new segment is understanding the market’s habits. For example, you know that millennials are more likely to be loyal to businesses that have a strong social media presence. Since they’re the most brand-loyal generation, make sure that your promotional products include social media information.
  • Pick Products They’ll Actually Use — Here’s a riddle for you: if you’re looking to break into a geographical market in the hot, arid southwest, should you offer them branded umbrellas? No, of course not! Try to dig deep and get specific with your target audience to ensure they’ll actually use your product.
  • Use Market-Specific Graphics — If you’ve been into a new Whole Foods 365 store lately, you may have noticed that the new supermarkets are totally tailored to the geographic area in which they exist, using fun signs and graphics that tie the brand to the region. Companies entering a new geographic region can get personal with potential new customers by adding local graphics and wording.

Company Swag for Retaining CustomersDon’t forget about your existing customers! You already know that keeping your current consumer base loyal, happy and brimming with positive reviews is an effective marketing strategy with a relatively low ROI. Take it to the next level with promotional items tailored specifically to the customers you already have.

  • Create Customer Appreciation Giveaways — Every once in a while, surprise your customers with branded giveaways simply as a way to say thanks. If you’re an eCommerce business, this might mean adding a small, affordable promo gift to your large online orders. The same goes for in-store purchases.
  • Use Swag as a Promotional Item — Customers love free gifts. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Marketing showed that free giveaways can maximize sales, but that customers were more likely to spend more when the gift was expected and not a surprise. Leverage e-mail and social to promote incentives for purchases over a certain dollar amount or when existing customers reorder or try a new product.
  • Feature Loyal Customers on Social Media — As you can tell, retaining your customers is all about making sure they feel appreciated. Consider adding a customer appreciation post to your social media rotation where you say thanks to one particular customer each month. You’ll get major bonus points if you share a photo of your favorite customers in your company swag.

The Bottom LineJust like anything else in business, choosing the right corporate swag for your specific marketing objectives is a combination of art and science. As long as you put in a little bit of thought, effort and passion, you can be sure your branded products will help you reach even the most lofty marketing and recruitment goals.

About the Author

Kelsey is the Vice President of Development for PROMOrx, a company that has been prescribing branded products and trade show giveaways that promote goodwill and sales since 2000. Outside the office, you can find her dropping in to local yoga studios on the road and trying to eat healthy-one açai bowl at a time.

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