Not Another Calendar! - Choose Advertising Specialties That Sell

As I was searching through a kitchen drawer the other day, I found dozens of pens, pencils, letter openers, sticky-note pads, oversized paper clips, rulers, dental floss, calendars, magnets, whatsits and thing-a-ma-bobs, each with the name of a business on the front. In looking through my "collection" I discovered some things I love and use and others that I can't imagine why I picked them up. Some, I'm not even sure what they are!

They are all advertising specialties. You know, those giveaways that are going to bring customers swarming to your door. Advertising specialties can put your name in front of prospective customers and keep it there. That way, your name will be on their minds and in front of their faces when they decide to buy. But too often, they don't work the way you expected them to.

The trick to using advertising specialties effectively is to understand who your customers are, what they value, how they will use your giveaway, and where they will be when they make a buy decision.

Pizza delivery restaurants give out lots of refrigerator magnets. Where are you when you decide to order a pizza? You probably just looked in the fridge for something to fix for dinner, didn't find anything and are closing the door. At that moment, you spot a magnet and say, "Pizza!" Some of the magnets even come with detachable coupons.

Where will your customers be when they make a buy decision? At home, at the office, in their cars, on the phone, at the computer . . .use a specialty that will be in front of them there.

Or maybe you just want something that they will use a lot to keep your name in their minds. A mug. Or something like a wall calendar where your name will be in front of them 365 days. (366 in a leap year!)

However you hope to influence your customers, make sure you choose an item they will actually use. Will they want another ball point pen, pocket calendar, or stress ball? How many wall calendars do they get from other sources? Will yours be one they are willing to put up on the wall? Does your item look or feel "cheap" or of poor quality? If so it won't give a good impression of your business.

If you use advertising specialties, choose something that is unique, doesn't look cheap, will be used by your customers, and will be nearby when they make a buy decision. That doesn't mean you have to give away expensive items. A couple of my favorites are ball point pens. One, from British Airways, has a clip that folds out to look like wings on a plane. It's not great to write with, but it's really cute. Will the pen cause me to fly British Airways? Probably not, but it is one more positive impression I have of their airline.

Want to try something a little different? Why not get tote bags, t-shirts, sports bottles, or other items made up and sell them. If you have a clever logo or slogan, people might be willing to pay. For example, the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston (yes, a museum about funerals) sells mugs and more with their slogan, "Any day above ground is a good one." If you are actively creating a brand people respond to, you might be able to start a whole new product line. One source for image products is http://www.cafepress.com/.

Oh, one last thing about using advertising specialties. You have to actually give them out. Buying them and leaving the box in the closet won't bring you a single customer.

Copyright Cathy Stucker. As the Idea Lady, Cathy Stucker can help you attract customers and make yourself famous with inexpensive and free marketing ideas. Get free tips, articles and more at http://www.IdeaLady.com/.

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