If the promotional items you give out end up in the attic or shoved in the back of a desk drawer, they are probably not doing what they are supposed to be doing. However, if items you passed out to clients and customers are being seen again and again, chances are, word-of-mouth advertising is stimulating your business.
With media (radio, televisions and newspaper), messages can come and go. But, the exposure promotional items can give equals longevity. While there is no real scientific way to measure how many impressions an item can receive in its lifetime, we know that it works and ultimately gets well over its money’s worth. I used to work at a radio station that passed out license plates. We had a very fun logo- and still after ten years of being on the air, they are a sought out item. We began to limit the number that were handed out at live action broadcasts, and that drew people to event after event. Everywhere you drive in our area, you are sure to see a dozen or so cars with Froggy 101 license plates on the commute. This may draw people to flip on the station to see what’s playing. With the amount of impressions they get, these ‘mini-billboards’ sure generate more word of mouth advertising than a real billboard would, for a fraction of the cost. When concerts came to town, we’d have the country singers autograph them, and then either give them away or auction them off for charity. Those, which were often bought by business owners, are on prominent display in bars and pubs around the area. This is just one small example of how word-of-mouth advertising can explode through a small item.
Bumper stickers and static stickers are something that constantly generate word-of-mouth as well. What college doesn’t sell them? Parents and alumni can also have them too! Coffee and travel mugs, and even koozies (can coolers) can all create buzz about their namesake in offices, at people’s homes or at the beach. While many people use their ‘free t-shirts’ to sleep in, many others will wear them to the gym or out jogging. This could create locker room talk about when and how they got the shirt. At a bar, you may help someone open a beer with a keychain from an insurance company- and guess what- they need insurance.
Word-of-mouth can also even help for short-term goals, such as at a seminar. You may be passing out a really cool item, which makes you the talk of the floor. Or, maybe everyone at the county fair wants to stop by the Heavenly Touch Massage Therapy stand for a stress ball.
Plain and simple, if you use the right kind of promotional items, people will use them- and others will see them being used. “Where’d you get that?” could become a common question to the user, making them a walking, talking billboard for your own company. If a t-shirt cost you $3.79, but the person wears it to the gym once a week- think how far that little sum of money actually went!