Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links
The use of branded merchandise is almost universal in customer-facing businesses. Every time you go to a hotel, you see branded pens and paper. Spas have branded towels. And restaurants serve their food in branded containers.
But why? Usually, when something is as universal as branded merchandise, there’s a reason for it. Although it might seem like an extra expense to the uninitiated, branded merchandise can make a big difference to brand acceptance, helping companies earn the trust of their patrons.
The crux of the desire to use this marketing method has to do with building trust through exposure. Although appearing professional is a part of the story, the real magic happens when customers get used to a brand. Exposure builds trust, and trust is what ultimately motivates customers to buy from you.
Here’s how top companies are using merchandise to drive their brand acceptance.
They Use It To Attract Marginal Customers
Merchandise outfits, like this company, are B2B enterprises in the market for selling customized trinkets that businesses then pass onto consumers. But why do they exist in the first place?
Simple branding is not a win-win transaction for customers. They’re exposed to a company’s marketing materials, but they don’t get anything in return. Merchandise solves this problem: the company gets to promote itself, as before, but the customer gets something in return that they can use, like a hat, keyring, pen, or USB stick.
Giving customers something that provides some kind of function allows companies to reach people who wouldn’t ordinarily respond to their brand message. Thus, merchandising can be a way to get at those difficult-to-reach potential customers.
They Always Target Their Campaigns
A lot of merchandise is cheap to make and can be handed out to whomever your business comes into contact with. The cost-benefit situation warrants it. But in some cases, a scattergun approach isn’t useful.
Your marketing department, for instance, might come up with a strategy to attract a new class of customers using more expensive items than, say, ball-point pens. Because these items are costly, you want to be sure that they’re getting into the hands of people who are likely to buy from you. Top companies, therefore, target their use of merchandise at those whom they believe will part with their cash and provide a return on the initial investment.
They Look For Bargains
Merchandise isn’t always cheap. But it can be, especially if you get your timing right. Often, merchandising companies have unsold stock sitting in their warehouses that they need to shift. As such, they sometimes offer bargain prices for companies who can make use of their excess inventory. Ring up and ask if there are any deals to be had, especially if a big client has cancelled an order.
They Define Their Objectives
Being able to control your marketing spend is a critical skill in business. And, like many other forms of advertising, merchandise is costly. That’s why it’s a good idea to set your financial objectives ahead of time so that you know whether your campaign has succeeded or failed.
Big companies, like Red Bull, use these kinds of metrics to determine whether marketing with merchandise is worth the expense.
You also need to think carefully about your customers’ needs too. Not all merchandise will be appropriate for every group of customers, so to have the most significant impact, you need to be discerning about what you give them. Think about your target demographic and what they might find most useful or valuable. Remember, the aim is to get them to experience your brand as much as possible.
They Give Customers Choice
If you can, it’s usually a good idea to provide customers with a choice over what merchandise they get. Having a selection available can make a big difference. You can also canvas customers to ask what they found the most useful and use their feedback to inform what you buy for your next big promotion.
They Use It Like They Would A Business Card
Business cards are ubiquitous in the commercial sector, with everybody using them as their personal advertisement. But there’s a problem with the business card model: everybody’s doing it.
Think about the last networking event that you went to. How many people did you ever get back to after they handed you their business card? In all likelihood, few if any. Merchandise is a great business card substitute, especially if you run a larger company. Not only is it memorable, but it’s also functional and more likely to be picked up again in the future.