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Lori Valenti Webb

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Money Worth Spending- Promotional Items Done Right

Money Worth Spending- Promotional Items Done Right

As far as partnerships go, the one that I have forged with a great promotional company has been one of my favorites.  Stephen McFadden and I collaborated for the first time many years ago, and that is when he taught me how much more there is to promotional items than what had always been done.  At that time, we started venturing into promo that was strategic and smart.  When promotional items were created and customized to a specific event or specific outreach, they had way more value to them.

For example, when we were working on some student properties, instead of handing out generic stuff- the everyday koozie- we started creating ‘eye blacks’ that were branded for football games, and after a while, everyone knew we were the ones that gave out that material.  Next thing you knew, people were running around tail-gating with our eye blacks on.  The examples from there grew, and then Stephen started really thinking about how promo items can be a bigger value to ROI.

There was an interesting pattern that he spotted.  Companies wanted to get his ideas on items that would showcase their brand and produce a converted lead, but they were not willing to invest the money.  Companies will spend $100ks of dollars on new branding and marketing/advertising material and then wind up getting super generic promotional items.  This creates the Brand Gap – How are future residents supposed to know you have a waterfall pool and $10,000 chandelier based on the $.50 stadium cup you just gave them…If your property smells of rich mahogany…so should your off-site branding and collateral!  Step up your game.

The promotional market is much to blame for this Gap and lack of trust by management companies to extend the proper budgets. The promotional market has been outdated and stale for many years.  Stephen’s company is attempting to flip that on its head, and I had the benefit of being a first adopter of this.  We began incorporating sayings and puns, humor, brand elements, patterns and designs and not just slapping on logos onto our promotional material.  Coming up with brand boards helped us to showcase a well thought out promotional plan- including promo items for events and outreach- and it gave teams a good understanding of the quality that can go into these items.  It helped for me to take what the branding vision approach was, give to Stephen and work on a mood board with him, and then review the board with items with the team to determine what we could use for certain events, outreach and gifts.  If the property was fun and quirky, our gifts matched that.  For a very high end project, we did less variety and more attention was paid to a high end gift.

The other issue is education.  The power of promo is unknown to most…Stephen shared some data according to PPAI (Promotional Products Association International): 1 in 4 people are currently walking around with or using a promotional product right now. 82.6% of people can recall the brands on their promotional products. Promotional Products have 20%-50% greater recall than ANY other major media (including web). 85% of people will do business with a brand after receiving a promotional product from them.  How awesome of an opportunity is that?

I can tell you from experience, these have been highly effective.  Creating memorable promo material has been a key to driving brand recognition, WOM, and converting leads.  Another example that I always point to is the exceptionally smart product that Stephen did for a property in Durham who had Duke Hospital as a major preferred employer.  The property started making branded scrubs for nurses- and they loved them and wore them every day.  What better way to get the word out about your community than having all the nurses at Duke wearing your scrubs?

Think about creating promotional items that achieve real value for your property.


Stephen Mcfadden is with www.perfect-promos.com

Lori Valenti Webb is with www.propplaybook.com


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