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The Value of Offline Marketing in an Online World

ACT OnlineWhen it comes to promotional products, you might be tempted to pass them by, opting instead for advertising on the web, running a Facebook promotion, or emailing your customers and clients limited-time-only coupon codes.

While these can all be fine ways to advertise your business or organization, there’s another option that carries a little more weight and has a bit more meaning. It involves turning off your computer, stepping away from your desk, and going out into the real world. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this alone—not when you have your very own, real live, three-dimensional promotional products to help you out.

I know what you’re thinking—turn off my computer? Are you crazy? Nope, not crazy. Smart. You see, I’ve been in the business long enough to recognize when the tides are turning, and in the world of promotional products, that moment has arrived.

The Problem with Fast Food and Facebook

If you want an example of what I’m talking about, look no further than your dinner plate. For years, manufacturers were selling the idea that food should be fast, cheap, and easy. Drive-thru restaurants flourished, and the microwave was the most used appliance in the house. Eventually, however, people got tired of instant meals, and began to crave the suppers of their childhood. This led to the birth of the “slow food movement,” and the return to a more nourishing approach to meals.

Need another example? Think of the way your Facebook wall blows up on your birthday, with everyone from your dentist to your high school nemesis wishing you a great year—or, even worse, a “HBD”, the annoying acronym for Happy Birthday (how lazy can one be???).  Compare that to the feeling you get when you open your mailbox and find a handwritten card or a letter from a loved one. That one piece of mail, humble as it may be, is more meaningful than a thousand messages on your Facebook wall.

Promotional products are a lot like a Sunday pot roast and a piece of mail. In a world where everyone else is putting their energy online, making the effort to go offline will set you apart from the pack in a way that clients and customers will appreciate.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

ACT Offline MarketingI may be The Queen of Promotional Products, but don’t just take my word for it—ask the experts, and they’ll agree. According to a recent study conducted by PPAI, a promotional product industry trade association, only 44% of the average American consumers interviewed reported receiving a promotional product in the last two years. Yet 90% of those people who had been given a promotional product still had it. 83% of the respondents said they’d like to receive a promotional product with an adverting message, and 48% wanted to receive these products more often. I say we need to give the people what they want, and what the people want is, quite clearly, more promotional products!

The Moral of the Story

The lesson here is actually quite simple. In our rush to adopt the newest technologies, download the latest social media apps, and invest in websites with all the bells and whistles, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. While I love promotional products because of they’re so effective (even a promotional product that’s only used once a week is seen 52 times a year!), the magic of promotional products is the fact that they’re real, solid, and tangible. They ask us to face one another, rather than hide behind computer screens and avatars. They give us an excuse to shake hands, have a conversation, send ‘snail mail’ or put a face to the name. It’s a feeling people are craving, especially after so many years of living in a “virtual reality.” When they finally step away from the computer and pick up a pen to write a letter, or head to the kitchen to cook a meal, your promotional products will be ready and waiting for them. That’s a good place to be, and a great place to promote your company.

 

 

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The Science of Selecting the Perfect Promotional Products

ACT Scientific MethodSome people think being able to zero in on perfect promotional products is an art, a magical talent that only a few people possess. While that’s certainly a small part of it, natural talent will only take you so far. That’s why, when it comes to helping our customers choose their own promotional products, A Creative Touch relies on a mixture of instinct and a trick of the trade, also known as “the scientific method.”

I didn’t invent the scientific method. (If I did, it would be called something a little more interesting, like the Royal Roundtable or the Queen’s Amazing Questions.  After all, I am The Queen of Promotional Products!) The scientific method has been around since the 17th century, and for hundreds of years its been used as a way to ask and answer questions through observation and experimentation. Gravity? Plastic? iPhones? Yep, that’s right. They’ve all been invented or discovered, at least in part, thanks to the scientific method.

The scientific method includes six steps. When a client approaches me and has no idea how to choose a promotional product, I walk them through the steps. By the end of the list, we’ve usually landed on the perfect solution, and everyone leaves the conversation happy and satisfied. Today, I’m going to let you in on this trade secret, and show how science can help you choose the right promotional product, too.

Step 1: Ask a question.  The big question is, of course, “What promotional product should you purchase?” But to get there, you should really ask a series of smaller questions. “What goals am I trying to achieve with a promotional product? Who is my target audience? What is my budget?” Once these questions are answered, we can move on to the second step.

Step 2: Do background research.  The next step is to figure out what sort of item would be valuable and exciting to your customers, volunteers or employees. You want your promotional product to be useful, because use means exposure. Exciting is important, because you want your customers and clients to feel like they’re receiving a gift, rather than an advertisement. The trick is to zero in on the current trends, but avoid choosing something that will be passé or cliché tomorrow. It’s a delicate balance, but not impossible, especially if you are in the hands of a certified promotional products specialist.

 Step 3: Construct a hypothesis.  You can only ask questions for so long. At some point, you have to make a choice. Your hypothesis can be as simple as this: “I run a gym. My clients often listen to music while they workout. Therefore, I think that a set of earbuds sporting the gym’s logo would be a perfect promotional product.” That wasn’t so hard now, was it? Enjoy that feeling of accomplishment while it lasts—things are about to get a little more difficult.

 Step 4: Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment.  Until it has been tested, a hypothesis is nothing more than an idea. To make it real, you have to investigate, experiment, and see if the idea can stand on its own two legs. Sticking with the earbud example from Step 3, you have a few options. Walk through the gym and count how many people are listening to music on an average day. Poll some members to see if they’re interested in earbuds. Finally, order a very small run of earbuds and give them to a few regulars, then see how they are received and how often the earbuds are used.

Step 5: Analyze your data and draw a conclusion.  Good news! You’ve discovered that earbuds are popular in the gym, your clients report that they’d love a new set, and your test run is performing well. This experiment has been a success, and you’ve confirmed that this particular promotional product is valuable, exciting, and fulfills a need in the lives of your target audience. It’s time to place a full order, with the confidence that only the scientific method can provide.

 Step 6: Communicate.  The perfect promotional product does more than spread your logo all over town. It shows that you’ve taken the time to get to know your audience, whether they’re customers, clients, volunteers, or employees. You understand their needs and values, likes and dislikes, interests and occupations, and you’ve used that information to give them something they didn’t even know they needed! Through that promotional product, you’re communicating something important—that you listen and you care. It’s a priceless (and scientifically sound) message for any company or organization.

 

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