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HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PROMOTIONAL PRODUCT

05.14.2013 / Posted in ArticlesBranding

Promotional products. Most companies buy them for prospects, clients, event attendees—they’re a fact of corporate life.

And they do work: Compared to other items when it comes to the cost per number of impressions, promotional items often win. For example, the Advertising Specialty Institute found that the average cost-per-impression for a shirt is 0.005 cents. A prime-time television ad? Per impression, it runs 0.019 cents. 

But not all promotional products are created equal. Some are hits—and others are misses. How can you ensure that your next promotional item nails the target?

WHAT’S YOUR POINT?

What do you hope to achieve? How will you distribute the item? How does the activity for which you’re purchasing promotional products fit into your marketing strategy and message? How will you measure its success? 

Without a clear plan and an understanding of how these products integrate into your marketing program, you risk wasting a sizable chunk of your marketing budget

And the dumpster behind your building is not a prospect or customer.

SUIT THE PRODUCT TO THE PERSON

Who does the promotional item target? 

Don’t select a product you’d like—select something your audience would want. Ensure it fits your purpose as well: You may want to give something different to customers than to prospects. After all, you should have a different message for customers than you do for people who haven’t purchased from you.

DON’T FALL INTO A PROMO-ITEM RUT

Some companies have “signature” promotional items. They should reconsider. Customers likely already have one from a previous encounter with you. Many prospects may as well—at least, if they’re in the pipeline, they will. Something new and different will make a fresh impact each time.

FOCUS

Don’t give a promotional product to everyone you meet—even if they fit your audience parameters. Target carefully for the biggest impact. For example, handing a gift to everyone who walks past your booth at a trade show—even if its attendees are your target audience—cheapens the item’s value.

GIVE—AND GET

Ensure that you have contact information for anyone who receives a promotional item. With current or past customers, you’re all set. But if you’re trying to attract new prospects, giving something without getting something in return is doing it wrong.

FIND SOMETHING USEFUL

Choose something that your audience will use as often as possible for as long as possible. A study showed that promotional product use achieved a 69 percent boost in brand interest and an 84 percent increase in positive brand impression—mainly because of repeated exposure to the company’s brand though using the item. Also, you gain fresh brand impressions from the people who see someone use the product—an added bonus.

INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION

The item may be usable, targeted, and fit your strategy—but it fails if you don’t give the customer a way to take action.

Include your company’s contact information: logo, URL, tagline, phone number, QR code—whatever makes sense for your initiative. And with a finite space in which to work, make every line count.


QUALITY MATTERS

Promotional items leave a lasting brand impression. Handing out cheap, useless products is worse than handing out nothing at all. 

Detail orientation ties to quality, too. Check every proof that you receive from the vender. Is everything clear and easy to read? Is the phone number correct? The URL? Are there any misspellings? Send the proofs through multiple pairs of eyes to be extra certain.

Need help making sure your promotional product is a good fit for your strategy? Call us today!



The Bobblehead Tax: Cincinnati Reds Court Case Could Impact Promo Industry

The Cincinnati Reds, Ohio tax officials and branded game-day merchandise like player bobbleheads are at the center of an intriguing court case that could send reverberations throughout the promotional products world.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed to consider an appeal from the Reds. The Major League Baseball team argues that state tax officials have no legal basis to demand the payment of $88,000 in taxes tied to Reds-branded promotional products that the team provided to fans on game days between 2008 and 2010. The Ohio Department of Taxation, however, is doing just that, saying the Reds owe the levy.

The Reds contend that they're entitled to a resale exception/exemption because they're reselling the items as part of advertised ticket sales. Ohio law exempts companies from paying tax on items they buy to resell.

Lawyers for the Reds explained their position: Team officials identify certain games on the schedule they suspect fans won't be as interested in attending. To beef up ticket sales to such contests, the team advertises – and then provides – bobbleheads, player cards and other Reds-themed memorabilia as part of a fan's ticket purchase. "The price paid for the ticket includes consideration for the promotional item," Reds attorneys say in a court filing. "Accordingly, the Reds purchase of such items is exempt from tax since the items are resold to game attendees."

Ohio tax officials take an altogether different view. They say the Reds didn't resell the promotional items as part of the ticket price, but rather gave them away for free to increase interest in games. As such, the state tax commissioner contends that the promotional items should be taxed because the Reds bought the products to be distributed as freebies and are not, in fact, part of a ticket sale.

To support their position, tax officials say that the ticket price for each particular seat is the same throughout the season, whether a promo item is offered or not. Furthermore, not all patrons are guaranteed that they will get promo merch for a game in which it's advertised because supplies are limited. Relatedly, if a game attendee decides she doesn't want, say, a bobblehead, then her ticket isn't discounted. Given all that, the state Board of Tax Appeals denied an appeal from the Reds.

"We conclude that the Reds have not provided this board with competent and probative evidence in support of the position that it does not owe the assessed tax," board members wrote in their ruling. "It is the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals that the decision of the tax commissioner must be affirmed."

The Reds decided to appeal to the state Supreme Court. There the case rests, awaiting an initial hearing.

Depending on how the court rules, the case could have sweeping implications for the promotional products industry. Should the court side with tax officials, will teams and other businesses in Ohio be discouraged from investing in branded merchandise for game-day promotions and, indeed, other events because they don't want to pay taxes on the items? Could an Ohio ruling in favor of the tax commissioner's findings influence other states to enforce similar actions? Stay tuned.

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