We’ve all heard the expression “You need to spend money to make money”, and that’s never more true than when we’re talking about marketing for our business. At the same time, there are ways to maximize your return on investment just by being a little more prudent when planning your next marketing project. Here are five tips for saving money when investing in promotional purchases.
- Start Early – I always recommend that we start to talk about items for your event at least 4 weeks before you need to have them on hand. The first week we’ll be determining the product that works best for you and getting your logo and other imprint information ready to fit the size that’s available on the product itself. Most of our suppliers in the industry work on a 5 to 7 working day production schedule, but they need a couple of extra days if you want to see a proof of how the image will look. Never skip the proofing step if you don’t have to! It helps to ensure that we are all working with the same ideas in mind. Finally, don’t forget shipping. When possible, I try to work with local suppliers, but quite often the item you settle on may have to come from somewhere else in the country or even from overseas. Leave plenty of time for the least expensive shipping method to help save money. Overnight or expedited shipping can cost more than the product itself!
- Multi-purpose – While minimum purchase quantities required are getting smaller every day, it’s still true in this industry that the larger quantity purchase you make, the less each item you buy will cost. So, when you’re thinking about an event where you know you’ll need 250 items, also consider if you could utilize the same product for a future event. Maybe buy 500 or 1,000 items now to save later. That way you won’t run into the repeat set up charge, the additional shipping cost, or the higher cost for the smaller quantity purchased.
- Focus on the Message, not the Product – The most common question I’m asked is “What’s the newest, latest, greatest promotional item out there?” After I’ve attended one of the many trade shows each year, I can always give you a few new ideas. That doesn’t mean that those new products will express your particular message as well as the tried and true ones you’ve been using all along. Sometimes the new items will be exactly the right thing, but more often than not consistency is the key. Why give your clients a “selfie-stick” if you’re trying to sell plumbing services?
- Plan for (at least) 3 Tiers of Contact – This is especially true for trade shows where you know you will have those attendees who are only interested in what you have to give away for free, not in you, not in your product or service. We affectionately call them the “scoopers” as we watch them scoop up any free goodies off your display and go on their merry way. However, these people even show up in day-to-day business. I had a contact who has since retired, that I would stop in to visit occasionally and his first words to me were always “What’s free today?” Always have something really inexpensive ready for these people – I often recommend hard candy, but even small toys will work. Don’t invest more than a few dollars in this tier of contact, but also don’t ignore them completely. There’s a remote chance that they might eventually become more serious about what you have to offer.
The second tier of contacts are the people who actually stop to chat with you and act interested in what you have to offer, the ones who stop in to browse through your store. They might not have an immediate need for your product or service, but they take the time to understand what that is. They may also know some other contacts that could be even more important to you in the long run. Have something of value to offer to these people, something that will help them to remember you positively and will trigger that memory when they need you. Items that stay on the desk, in the work vehicle, or near the phone are particularly useful at this level.
Invest your maximum marketing budget in real, sincere clients or prospects. These are the people who take the time to set an appointment, to ask you for a quote, and to seriously consider working with you. These are the contacts that you want to provide with a memorable item that they will keep, perhaps even something personalized especially for them. This is where it makes sense to spend the majority of your money. Don’t waste it on the first tier who may never come back.
- Use a Pro – I don’t try to do my own electrical work; I don’t do my own taxes; I don’t cut my own hair! I may be capable of tackling any of these jobs, but the time it takes, and the additional expense (and possible embarrassment) I incur for making mistakes just aren’t worth it. Rely on a Promotional Products Professional to help with all of your marketing needs. We know the suppliers to work with who will provide a quality product with an attractive and well-placed imprint, and who will turn the project around within the time frame you need. Many of us are Marketing professionals who can help you with messaging for your event and branding for your business. We can help you come up with ideas and approaches that you might never think of on your own. Ask your sales person if they have any industry certifications – that means they’ve taken the time to get some education to help you more effectively. Ask if they are up to date on product safety regulations to help you avoid potential recall situations and the bad publicity that comes with them.
Saving money is important to all of us. It doesn’t always mean finding something on-line that’s a little less per piece than what I can do for you. It always means finding the right product, at the right time, in the right quantity, to send the right message, done the right way. And that’s how we help to Simplify Your Marketing!
Betsy Andrade is the founder and owner of Andrade Promotions, an iPROMOTEu affiliate promotional marketing organization. Contact Andrade Promotions for marketing consultation, project planning, and promotional marketing items – www.andrade-promotions.com – We Simplify Your Marketing!