A guest blog by CIM Fellow Dee Blick

Are promotional gifts the fallen heroes, the casualties of the current tough conditions?

As a marketer with a lifelong love affair with promotional gifts, not only are my clients’ budgets for promotional gifts being retained, in many cases they are being increased. But I recognise that I have a particular affinity with promotional gifts. I have spent the last 28 years of my career working with promotional gifts, including them in most of my campaigns to increase responses, to generate more meetings, increase sales etc. I know they work.

There’s no emotional sentimentality influencing this statement. For example if I offer something as simple as a branded mug filled with sweets to a trade stockist as an incentive to increase their order I know that the  modest cost of this pales into insignificance with the  uplift in sales. I know that if I enclose a coaster in a targeted letter to prospects and invite them to visit my client’s exhibition stand that if I have sufficiently qualified their interest in the exhibition, the inclusion of the coaster with the promise of receiving the remaining four pieces of the desk set will be sufficient to ensure a packed stand.

You don’t have to persuade me to keep promotional gifts in my marketing budgets. And so far the sceptical marketers I would say:

–          Use promotional gifts in your direct mail to create lumpy mailshots. A flat envelope could end up being a missile for the waste bin whereas the lumpy one will always be opened. And let’s face it, the biggest hurdle we have today is actually ensuring that our mailshots stands out sufficiently for the contents to be contemplated.

–          Use promotional gifts to draw people to your exhibition stand. Send them a lovely letter, enclose the packaging from a lovely gift or, let them know what awaits them when they pitch up at your stand. In what can be a boring and tedious day tramping around stands, popping along to yours to pick up a delightful freebie may be a sufficient enough highlight for you to open the door to a potential sale. And this approach works incredibly well with journalists too. I have managed to secure meetings with clients on their exhibition stand with some of the leading journalists in their sector simply by adding the extra layer of a goody bag packed with great gifts.

–          When you are planning campaigns whether to cold prospects, hot prospects, clients, or strategic partners, stand back and consider whether including a promotional gift will add the X factor and if so at what stage of the decision-making process it should feature namely: awareness, interest, evaluation, desire and action. The smallest touches can have the biggest impact.

Promotional gifts have not had their day; far from it. We marketers need to reappraise the value they can deliver and stop pigeonholing them as the bits and bobs we buy for our corporate event.