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Promotional Merchandise

2011 September 22

We all know how important face to face contact is when it comes to building a rapport with clients. Some of us refer to this as schmoozing, but it’s really just a good networking skill. It’s a fact that we relate a familiar face to something we know and trust, rather than relying on a service or product from some unknown company in a city we’ve never heard of. While it might be inappropriate to schedule a golf outing or a happy hour with a client you’ve only done business with once, but that shouldn’t stop you from keeping in some sort of contact. You can do this by actually making personal contact, like a phone call or an e-mail, or even just sending them some promotional merchandise. You don’t have to send extravagant gifts just to get your point across. Here are a few examples:

  1. Greeting cards. A good friend of mine works at a Honda car dealership, and has been looking for ways to gain a sense of familiarity with his customers. Whenever he sells a car, he wants to be known from that point on as “The Honda Guy.” Now, any time that person, their friends, or family members need a new car, he wants to be the first person they think of. To establish this persona, he has compiled a list of anyone he has sold a car to, and sends them a greeting card around the holidays. He’s also thought about sending birthday cards, but since he is new to the business, he wants to see how well this works out. The greeting cards that he sends contain a couple of his business cards, so that he is still getting promotional merchandise out there without being pushy.
  2. Calendars. The company I work for prints calendars for their safety and compliance division. Lots of companies distribute calendars, and to be honest, most of us either already have one, or don’t use one. One day I remember that my Grandmother was complaining that she didn’t have a 2011 calendar for the kitchen, so I brought home one of ours. Coincidentally enough, my uncle saw this calendar in our kitchen and asked where it was from, because he thought the safety tips were helpful and interesting. In fact, he wanted me to grab a few more calendars from work for him to hang around his place of employment. I wasn’t even trying to promote my company, and somehow the promotional merchandise found a way to get itself noticed!
  3. Beach Bags. When you think about visiting anywhere near the Jersey Shore on a beautiful sunny day in the middle of July, you can bet there are going to be a ton of people there. What better place to advertise, right? My sister’s company gave out beach bags at their annual company picnic, and my sister thought nothing of it. The bag sat in a corner in her bedroom until I grabbed it one day, in a rush to head to the beach. The bag had so many convenient compartments and was easy to carry; I was actually amazed that it was simply given out as promotional merchandise. To my surprise, a fellow beach-goer actually asked me where I got my bag! Just another successful giveaway from a company sneaking their logo onto something useful.
  4. Magnets. When I first started spending time with my boyfriend, we would meet at his house before going out anywhere. While waiting for him to grab his wallet and throw on his shoes, I always found myself scanning their refrigerator and reading all of the magnets. Looking back, I realized that some of the magnets were just pieces of promotional merchandise that his family received in the mail or picked up on the desks of doctor’s offices. Just from that company sending a magnet to one household, each and every person that walks through their kitchen will see it. Never underestimate the promotional power of such a small and affordable product.

A lot of the time, promotional merchandise doesn’t have to be blatantly waived in someone’s face to get your message across. Subtly keeping in contact with past and prospective clients by just giving them little trinkets or small gestures can go a long way. When you’ve imprinted yourself in someone’s brain as trustworthy, friendly, and helpful, their more than likely going to come back a second time, and hopefully recommend you to others. And if not? Maybe your promotional merchandise will catch the eye of a passing stranger!

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