You found a promotional product that you think is really cool. You go through the time and effort to order it—and you just know it’s going to be a huge hit.
But once you pass it out to your customers, they aren’t nearly as excited as you are. What’s the reason behind their lukewarm reaction? What went wrong?
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a promotional products campaign, but you still need to approach it as part of your strategic marketing program. And every marketing campaign begins in the same place: revisiting your audience demographics.
Even if you think you know your audience, you still need to review their expectations every time you market yourself—and promotional products are no different.
You might think that neon pink yoga mats will be the talk of the expo hall, but will that resonate with your audience? Sometimes what you like isn’t necessarily what your customers will like, and that’s why audience research is a must.
Why does audience research matter for product campaigns?
It’s time to put on your detective hat and find out what, exactly, your audience expects from you. Once you know that, you can make better (and more effective) marketing campaigns that get more results for the money.
It’s easy to skip audience research and go straight to ordering products, but you might miss something! Audience research is essential because it helps you:
- Stay relevant: Would you give branded shot glasses and tequila mixers to a group of schoolteachers? Probably not. The point is that audience research will help you identify the perfect, unique products tailored to your audience’s expectations and lifestyle.
- Optimize your marketing spend: Branded products are an ROI-positive way to grow your business, but you’ve got to be smart about it. The worst thing that could happen is to spend money on products that people toss in the trash or avoid altogether. Nobody wants that, so you’ve got to take a little time to understand your audience in order to make the most of your budget.
- Choose the right products for the occasion: Maybe your customers loved receiving sunglasses at a summertime expo. But just because they liked a certain product in one context doesn’t mean you should repeat it in another context. Audience research helps you choose products that are relevant to people’s interests, as well as the context, so they actually use your swag.
5 tips to make sure your audience will respond to your promo products
The goal of promotional products is to give potential customers something tangible that they’ll use on an ongoing basis while remembering your company. If you’re unsure of what products your audience will use, follow these five tips to find clarity.
1. Create customer personas with demographic research
Do you already have customer personas? If so, dust them off! Make sure your personas are still up to date, verifying your assumptions with hard data from:
- Google Analytics
- Social media analytics
- Competitor analyses
If you don’t have customer personas, this is your opportunity to create them. You can use these personas for any type of marketing campaign, so they’ll come in handy down the road, too.
Because your business likely has 5-7 different personas, who is the target persona for this event or meeting? Look at your target persona and brainstorm a list of potential products that this person would use, as well as an explanation of why you feel that way. This is a great time to collaborate with your marketing department to narrow it down to a few products that resonate with your target persona.
2. Choose products that fit the context
Who says you have to pass out the same branded products for an entire year? You’re free to switch up which merchandise you give out based on the location or context.
For example, if you’re a car company, you might want to create an experience with items people would use on the road, like travel mugs, car chargers, or travel bags. If your marketing plan includes giving people peace of mind, consider yoga mats, sleep masks, or candles.
3. Match audience expectations with your promo products
People will demand specific items based on the occasion and location. So, if you want your products to be well-received, you need to match your products to what your audience expects.
You likely already know where your events will be held; why not choose promo products that fit the location? Sunglasses are a great idea for sunny Phoenix, while attendees would appreciate a nice umbrella in an overcast town like Portland. You can also score with regional fare. Find a shop that locals love to frequent to source some yummy goods you can only get in town.
4. Get your timing right
Seasonality counts for a lot in marketing. Look at the calendar and think: what will be going on when you meet up with your customers?
Are the holidays around the corner? If so, they might appreciate a boxed set of gourmet cocoa. If it’s springtime, a cute planter and seed packets would be a great choice.
The thing is, customers expect to receive certain items at certain times of the year. Even if you have products left over, avoid passing out winter-themed goodies in August. It’s going to confuse people, so get your timing right!
5. Test out your promo products
Not sure if your audience will go for your choices? You can always test things out with a split test. This could mean conducting a focus group where you collect people’s thoughts about your favorite options for promotional products.
Or, if you don’t have the time for that, you can always split test at the event itself. Order your two top promotional products and give attendees a choice between the two. The one that runs out first is likely your winner! It’s a low-tech approach, but over time, you’ll learn which promo products your audience craves.
Choose promo products your audience will love
Promo products are a lot of fun, but they still need to get results for your business. Your branded merchandise needs to resonate with your customers to encourage engagement, so when in doubt, follow these five tips to make sure your product choices are on point.
An outside perspective can help, too! Boundless’s brand consultants get to know your brand and audience to pair you up with the perfect promotional products. We make sure your branded products are fine-tuned to your audience’s expectations, bringing in more ROI—and smiles—for the money. Get in touch with Boundless now to find your next Brand Love moment.