Relatively overlooked by many businesses, but making all the difference when used right, branded merchandise can be a game-changing tool for a company. To us, they’re just nifty, bulk-bought freebies that will make some visitors happy. But for the customers, they are much more than that.
Benefits of Branded Merchandise for Business Growth
They represent a link between the customer and the brand, a token of appreciation. The benefits are numerous and options endless. And if you want to get the most out of your branded merchandise to boost your marketing efforts, then keep on reading.
It Reaches Farther
When you’re trying to advertise a product, service, or your brand’s idea, exclusive merchandise is what seals the deal. It proverbially “sweetens the pot” by giving potential customers a physical object that will remind them of your business and your product, long after they’ve seen an actual ad or heard your pitch. That kind of reach cannot be replicated in any other way.
It Establishes a Connection
Branded merchandise forms a strong connection, especially with existing customers. It almost guarantees retention and brand loyalty, especially if the merchandise is delivered in a way that makes the customers feel rewarded for their loyalty to your company. They are seen as tokens of gratitude, and a sign of the company’s care and thoughtfulness. It is also more likely that they will spread the word about your brand and services, if they feel like a valued member of your customer base.
It’s Cost Effective
In the long run, bulk-buying branded merchandise is much cheaper than, say, paying for advertising space online, or a time slot on TV or radio. What’s even better, the average customer, upon receiving promotional material, perceives it to be much pricier than it actually is. A USB flash drive, a mug, an embroidered hat or a keychain will seem more expensive to them, since they only look at the value of that single item, and not the bulk. This goes to your advantage, as it will appear you’ve invested much more money into these gifts.
It Combines Online and Offline Marketing
There are simply no limits to what you can do with promotional material. Perhaps their most powerful feature is that they can be used in combination with online marketing. Just some of the possibilities are:
• Offering branded merchandise to those who sign up for your newsletter or after a purchase;
• Rewarding returning customers or referrals;
• Handing out merchandise for every milestone website visit;
• Joining forces with social media influencers who can organize giveaways.
And these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. A good marketing team is able to come up with a thousand and one ideas of integrating branded merchandise to engage both online and offline crowds.
It Determines a Company’s Style
Nowadays, the merchandise you choose goes beyond tote bags, caps and t-shirts. They have become household items, practical objects that serve a certain purpose and even make a statement. When deciding on what kind of promotional material to buy, you have to consider your target audience’s age, backgrounds and lifestyle. What’s more, think about the kind of style and voice you’re setting with your brand.
It Makes You Stand Out
Art, video game, and comic book conventions might be the best example of how branded merchandise helps you stand out. Since they’re in the creative industry, it’s only natural that you’ll find an abundance of colors, shapes and sizes at the venue. Which is why they’ve learned to design their banners and stands in such a way that they immediately draw the crowd’s eyes to their business. The same thing is applicable here as well. When attending trade shows, a banner or a stand with an eye-catching design is bound to attract more visitors to your booth.
It Gives a Sense of Exclusivity
Back in 1789, during George Washington’s inauguration, the spectators could purchase commemorative buttons as a memento. This is often referred to as the first promotional item, and for a good reason. It perfectly encapsulates the idea that certain promotional objects invoke exclusivity. People who own the time-exclusive merchandise (and wear it) can easily see themselves as a part of a group, or a club, even more so if your company has a snazzy-looking logo design. Branded merchandise can play into the idea of belonging to a larger following and proudly representing an idea your company stands for. And if it’s an object they can’t get anywhere else, then it’s all the better.
Branded merchandise makes for an excellent omni-channel marketing tool. Its outreach is vast, it leaves a lasting impression on customers, and it creates a connection with the brand that cannot be replicated through other means of advertising. Essentially, branded merchandise can make all the difference when you’re starting a marketing campaign or looking to switch something up.
Michael Deane is an editor of Qeedle, a small business magazine. When not blogging (or working), he can usually be spotted on the track, doing his laps, or with his nose deep in the latest John Grisham.