We believe that Promotional Marketing, when used correctly, is a valuable tool as part of your overall marketing mix. When the promotion supports the brand, it is seen as valuable by your audience and sends a strong call to action that supports your overall campaign. If done correctly, it can extend the life of the campaign and work as a catalyst to Get YOU Noticed!
HOWEVER, if you do not take the time to strategize and develop a unique promotional marketing piece that speaks to brand, message, market and value, it will fail.
We believe that promotional marketing, as part of an overall marketing mix, fails for one of two reasons. Brand apathy or medium ignorance. The first can lose you time and money; the second can be far more lethal to your brand.
By brand apathy, we mean that whoever is in charge of procuring promotional marketing materials to support the brand does not have the experience or knowledge to do this properly. They do not understand corporate objectives, messaging, brand or who the piece is going out to and why.
For example: Admin assistant Nancy receives a phone call from the Director of Sales saying that there is a trade show in Atlanta in two weeks and we need some “stuff” to give away. Without asking any more questions, Nancy goes on line, picks something that is within the budget that she has been given, has it shipped to Atlanta, pays by credit card and forgets about it.
Here is where things get ugly. The first thing that Nancy did not know is that there was a brand new logo being unveiled at this show and she sent the company producing things the old one. That means not only are the colours wrong, but so is the image and tag line so it does not marry up with the brand new booth that they just had built for the show. Second of all, she gave the company the low resolution logo that she had copied from the website and did not ask for a proof. The image on the piece given was grainy and not sharp. Third of all, because she did not know who the audience was and what the conference was about, she opted for a promo that totally missed the mark of the brand and did not tell the story that Sales wanted to tell.
Another version of this story is that whatever the promotion given away was heavy or bulky. I don’t know how many times I have seen oversized items in the waste bins at the airport by the ton, because people travelling home just did not have the room, or the weight limit to carry home the item provided. Another version of this problem are promotional knives or nail clippers. Try taking those home in your carry-on luggage!
As frustrating as these would be to those who are at the show, really what it lost them was opportunity and the cost of the goods. No one got hurt, but it would lead attendees of the conference to wonder what else that brand is not paying attention to.
Medium ignorance is a whole different story. Medium ignorance is not understanding what you cannot give away by law, or handing out something that is a safety hazard. Canada and the US have safety compliance standards that cover promotions. For Canada it is the CCPSA (Canada Consumer Product Safety Act) and for the US it is the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). Although these acts are similar in nature and the testing is fundamentally the same, they are not. Just because a supplier has tested for CPSIA standards in the US, does not make the product compliant automatically in Canada. Many products that are fine to give away as promotions in the US are not allowed in Canada because they are considered controlled substances by Health Canada.
A perfect example is a toothbrush. You can give a toothbrush away just fine in the US, however in Canada you need an MDEL (Medical Device Establishment License) to hand these out. Lip balm, hand sanitizer and sunscreen are also items that you need to be careful as to where, how and with what ingredients one used.
Many companies assume that the people they are purchasing from know the details of these cross border issues, but most do not. American suppliers look out for US regulations and feel that it is the importers issue to make sure they are Canadian compliant.
This takes on a whole new level of concern when you are dealing with promotions aimed at children.
Medium Ignorance can lead to fines, extra duties and confiscation of product with no recourse, injury to your audience, Public Relations issues and/or product recall. Any and all of these can affect your brand in ways that can never be repaired.
Here are some simple questions to ask within the office and to the professionals you work with BEFORE placing an order. . . if you do not get the right answers, it is time to dig deeper:
- What is the exact date of the promotion?
- Where exactly do you need things shipped and are there specific shipping instructions?
- How many people will we need to give things out to?
- What is the overall budget?
- What is the objective in handing out these items?
- What is the message we are trying to send?
- Who are these going to?
- What is their value to us?
- Do we need different levels of gifts based upon A, B and C level prospects?
- Is this a local show or will people be travelling home with the item?
- Will these be going to children?
- Is it part of an overall campaign and if so, what do I need to know about the campaign?
- What logo is going on the piece?
- Can I get a copy as a high resolution vector image?
- What are the pantone numbers of our company colours?
- Is there anything else I have missed that will make the event better?
In short, the more you understand, the better chance you have of communicating your needs to someone who can help you achieve your goals.
Although I have been talking about promotional marketing, the questions above can help you succeed when developing any type of promotion. Think about your customer and why they think you are valuable. Does it support the brand and does the message lead to a strong call to action?
Take the time to build relationships with people who understand your brand, message, market and value and believe in asking the harder questions to make sure that the promotion meets your goals, brand needs and in the end Gets YOU Noticed! in a positive way.