Jerome Hoxton has an experiment he asks people to try if they are unsure about the impact of advertising on promotional products — those free pens, notepads, highlighters, T-shirts, golf balls, mouse pads and myriad other items companies place logos on and give away. Ask 10 people on the street if they have ever received a promotional item. He says all 10 likely will say yes, and six or seven of them will go further.
“People remember what they got and who it was from,” says Hoxton, president of Newton, Iowa-based Newton Manufacturing Co. “That is the effect of advertising on promotional products.”
Take a second to think about products on your desk or in your office. That’s some powerful messaging, messaging that lasts.
More than $19 billion worth of promotional products are sold each year, so there must be a measurable return for the companies that go that route. With thousands of products to choose from, advisors can choose something that fits their interests and their marketing campaign, while satisfying economic and staying-power concerns.
“The cost per exposure is extremely low,” says Bruce Felber, creative director at Felber & Felber Marketing, Twinsburg, Ohio. “And the longevity is definitely there.”
Companies use promotional products to advertise for a variety of reasons. Felber already mentioned the longevity and economic aspects. The Promotional Products Association International is a trade group that conducts research and helps connect marketers in need with qualified promotional products consultants. PPAI found there are many principal uses of promotional products:
- Tradeshow promotion
- Customer retention, appreciation Goodwill/enhance image
- Improve, reward, recognize employee performance
- Create awareness of news products/services/facilities
- Reinforce existing products/services/facilities
- Generate sales leads and responses
- Fundraising/increasing donations
- Open doors, secure appointments
- Motivate dealers, retailers
Financial advisors should find a couple of those most interesting, as they apply to a financial services practice: customer retention and appreciation, and generate sales leads and responses. The first is a great way to drive referrals — the lifeblood of any solid advisory practice. The second relates to direct mail — the foundation of practices that rely on seminars to find new clients. Promotional products can help greatly with both, and industry experts have ideas of how to make it work.
Improve direct mail response
Advisors know better than anyone that direct mail is competitive. Individual pieces are competing against a cacophony of other mailings that all want the recipient’s attention and ask for action. Seniors especially are getting hit from all sides with offers for annuities, Medicare Part D plans, long term care insurance and more; plus, in high-population areas, they are receiving invitations from numerous advisors who want them to attend informational seminars. The potential for a given piece of direct mail to be disregarded is high. That doesn’t have to be the case.
“If you are doing direct mail and not using a promotional product, you are losing up to 100 percent of potential return,” Hoxton says. “You can double or triple your response rate with a promotional product.”
Even if the product is as simple as a pen or a keychain, the recipient will remember the sender for a long time.
“It doesn’t have to cost a ton to make an impression,” Felber says.
Key chains are carried every day. Calendars are hung on the wall and viewed daily. They make an impact. Hoxton says emery boards are among the least expensive products available, but they can make an impact when done right.
Felber calls it dimensional direct mail, and it works because people tend to open nonflat mail first. It draws the eye and arouses curiosity. It’s something different, something with promise.