Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
You still have time left to order and distribute holiday-themed promotional items. For small businesses, taking time to remember your customers during the holidays is a great customer service and marketing tactic. Some businesses create marketing action plans for the year and schedule when and what to promote for each holiday.
For Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, you can find specialized items through many vendors, or you can sometimes create your own. For example, you could choose notepads in red with a white logo. Any variation on the holiday colors or themes would work for many of the useful and inexpensive promo items, such as Post-it notes, memo pads, ink pens, letter openers and so on. You can also use holiday themes, such as candy canes, dreidels, candles, and so on to get ideas for decorating your promotional items.
If your customers are homemakers, you have an endless array of items to choose from—votive candles in holiday colors with your company’s logo on the holder would be great, as would almost any kitchen-related supply. I personally love magnetized picture frames because I like to put photos on my fridge. And, if it’s from a company that I use, having their phone number or website handy is an added bonus.
For business customers, I usually choose something that they can keep on their desk. A small clock, a paperclip holder—all those things we use everyday are available from promotional product companies. Calendars are one of the most popular and useful promos. Ink pens are a traditional promo and about half my personal supply of ink pens is those I got from other businesses.
If you can choose a promotional product related to your business and helpful to your customers, it will work much better than just something randomly chosen. For example, if you sell beauty products, a small mirror, a lipstick case, or a beauty tips booklet would work much better for your company than the above-mentioned paper clip holder. If you sell craft items, you can probably make your own promotional products. For instance, if you make pottery or sculptures, use up some leftover materials and make paperweights. Put your logo on there and you have a promotional item that is also a sample of your work. If you cannot logo a particular item, be sure to put a small tag on the item identifying your company.
To purchase promotional products, first set a budget based on what you have to spend and how many customers you want to reach. Divide the money by the number of customers and you’ll know how much to budget per item. Remember to add extra for set-up fees (this is a charge for the company to prepare your logo to be imprinted and usually ranges from $30 to $60) sales tax, shipping and distributing.
You can purchase promotional products from many companies online and most areas have several local vendors. Search the web or phone book for “promotional items” or “promotional products” or “ad specialties”.
If you have a local representative that you like working with, you can usually call them up and ask them to find the items you need. Give them some ideas and price ranges and they will find the products that fit. Most will bring you samples, too, and if you just cannot come up with an idea for a promotion, they can certainly help you out. Once you find a local vendor that you like, they can really help you find appropriate products and keep you abreast on new items in the market.
While shopping online does not provide quite the same level of service, you can search online for many items and most companies also allow you to search based on price per item. Usually, they have toll-free numbers and you can talk to representatives over the phone. Typically, they will provide ideas and information and will fax or email you a proof before your order is printed. I have purchased promotional products both online and through local vendors and have found great companies both ways. I find online price comparison very helpful and recommend anyone search several sites because prices on identical items can vary greatly among vendors.
Of course, most products get cheaper the more you buy, and for many small business owners, just meeting the minimum (which may be as low as 25 or as high as 500 for some items) can be difficult. For holiday promos, order only what you need, even if it means paying a higher price per item. You do not want to store something for a whole year and you will probably be tired of it next year anyway. If the product is something you can also give away after the holidays, then it is probably worth it to buy whatever quantity gets you the best price and still fits your budget.
For more information on promotional products,
The Power of Promotional Products by David Blaise and Maria Carlton is a comprehensive guide to promos, and is the favorite for promotional product representatives.