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Questions to ask when using promotional products as a marketing strategy

When running a small business, it is always tempting to take the path of least resistance when it comes to buying and marketing promotional items. Why spend $50 on a batch of nice pens when you can get a thousand balloons for the same price? The successful entrepreneur should keep the following questions in mind when deciding which products to market.

Is my product of every-day value? Or is it a trinket that will be discarded? 

Promotional items that creep their way into every-day use are far more valuable than products that are relevant to only a small minority of people. For example, custom coffee mugs are certain to be used by the large number of workers who crave caffeine, and can be used to organize office supplies among many other things. They are guaranteed to be placed in public locations where a lot of people will be exposed to a company's logo. This is much better than the Frisbee that always seems to creep into those corporate gift bags - how many people of working age do you know that play Frisbee?

Is my product appropriate to the target audience? 

It is important to gear your marketing strategy toward your target audience. Do some research on the company or client beforehand to avoid embarrassing mistakes that can cause a negative reaction.

How are my competitors using promotional items? 

This question offers a two-fold advantage. First, a small business owner can learn what a competitor is doing right and wrong by evaluating which specific promotional products are working and which are not. With this information, you can also separate your promotional item from the competition, creating a unique brand.

A few other general tips to follow when marketing with promotional products include:

Avoid over-promoting seasonal items 

Highlighting the major holidays is fine, but stray away from more obscure celebrations unless specifically relevant to the potential customer.

Never make a negative reference to the competition 

We've all seen those funny Apple ads bashing Microsoft, but if you do the same to the competition, a lawsuit is likely and will sink any small business.

Keep the promotional product relevant to your own company 

Since you are trying to establish a brand name, make sure that when a potential client uses your item, they will come to identify it with the industry involved. It is fine to use common items, but avoid giving out products that are completely untraceable to your service.

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