As some of you know, I was in the promotional products industry for part of my career. I used to travel to multiple tradeshows and see what was “new” and how different organizations used the tactile products to enhance their marketing messages. Last week I attended the Minnesota Alphabet Bash and the Carver County Fair, and I thought of this timely topic when I visited certain booths and saw their giveaways. Some organizations don’t always give this marketing channel the attention it deserves. Here’s some promotional hits and misses I saw last week.
How many of you have been to the Carver County Fair? The fair board does an excellent job of branding “Tippy the Cow” logo on all of its marketing materials – direct mail coupon flyer, the website, Facebook page and the outside Fair Signage. That logo is so entrenched in their marketing that my 6 year old knew the fair coupon flyer was in our mailbox because Tippy was on the return address. So how did the Fair Board use Tippy in their promotional products? They offered FREE Tippy Tattoo’s in their coupon flyer. At the administration building you could purchase a Tippy T-Shirt that was shrinkwrapped in the SHAPE of a cow. Clever!
The Not So Good…
Attending the Alphabet Bash, I had high expectations to see unusual promotional items. But at the booths, I saw a lot of standards, not really anything out of the box (except for the trucker hat in the goodie bag). Blinking lapel pins, pens and mints really don’t “wow” me, but I think one of the most boring items I got was a notepad. Unless I am taking notes at an event, it seemed a bit pointless. I think a postcard rather than a notepad may have been more compelling.
Because I was in healthcare promotions, I really scrutinize these items and consider multiple possibilities for giveaways. Bandaids in an imprinted dispenser or a pill box holder….again? What a disappointment. How about getting creative and hand out antibacterial hand sanitizer, like Hutchinson Medical Center did for several years, or sunscreen or lip balm? Recently (not at the fair), I saw a healthcare organization give away imprinted sewing kits (with threaded needles!) at a parade. While they weren’t distributed directly to children, the wrong decision can lead to a potential lawsuit.
Just so you know I am not just “talking a talk” about promotional products, here’s the most compelling reason of all–potential longevity. Carr Flowers offered a free mirror with a flower purchase in 1991; this promotional product has been a staple in my purse for 20 years! If you are stuck in a rut when it comes to booth or parade giveaways, stop thinking about the cost/item and think about the cost/impression the item leaves behind–that is a much better way to utilize your promotional budget. No one would ever doubt the cost/impression on my little mirror and it always makes me smile.
Some things to consider with your tradeshows/fair/parade giveaways next year.
- What are you giving away and why?
- Does it have a “wow” factor?
- Is it a disposable (one impression) item?
- What is your per/piece price, could you have a tiered giveaway?
Give yourself time to think about what you could order for a few weeks before the deadline. Ordering products “under the gun” doesn’t often lead to good purchasing decisions. Good promotional product professionals are not just order-takers, they help you brainstorm for the best physical item that promotes your organization or event and brings it to life. I strongly encourage you to visit with a local promotional products profession, affiliated with PPAI or ASI. What have been the best promotional items you have used? Do you have any that you have had for several years? Who knows, maybe at this time next year I will see an “udder-ly” cute promotional item – a Tippy the Cow-shaped stress ball at a healthcare booth at the fair.