The internet is perfect for convenience and accessibility, but not so great for getting lasting attention. There’s just so much of everything — so many websites, so many blog posts, and so much social media activity — that it all becomes a vague blur speeding past your eyes. And while this is inconvenient for anyone who wants to get eyes on their content, it’s a major obstacle for ecommerce retailers scrapping for supremacy in a hotly-competitive marketplace. With countless sellers of all kinds within easy reach, profitability is often about finding a viable way to make your brand in particular stick in the memory — something easier said than done. If you run an ecommerce business, an option that you should strongly consider is offering promotional products, because such branded items can be very powerful at bringing in relevant traffic. Let’s look in more detail at why promotional products are so handy for online stores:
You can use them to build positive associations
Our memories aren’t comprehensive records of the past. They’re really more like complex webs of fuzzy associations, which is why the smell of a particular food can instantly send us hurtling back through time to childhood breakfasts. And the associations a customer forms with a brand will strongly affect how they view it in the future. Promotional products are great for establishing positive brand associations if you use them smartly, and the options are expanding all the time. Here are three things you do with them:
Show pride in your brand
While ecommerce retailers aren’t necessarily so interested in appearing at trade shows, they do have greatly-expanded online content requirements. If you want people to be invested in your brand, you need to be personable and visible through team photos and social media activity — and through branded clothing, you can show very clearly that you believe in your business and feel pride in its quality. This will help persuade people that you’re worth their interest. Image credit: Capstan Sailing
Pleasantly surprise customers
Throwing small free gifts into delivery packages is a fantastic way to delight customers without incurring much cost, and if you brand those free gifts, you get the added company promotion. When a customer opens their order to find a signed team photo or a keyring in brand colours, they’ll associate your branding with the excitement of opening a new package, and make them wonder slightly about what they might get in a subsequent order.
Find ways to be useful
When getting promotional products to people, whether through selling them online or giving them as free gifts in deliveries or at shows, you can focus on practical items like pens, USB sticks, or hats. Even if people don’t initially care much for your brand, having your logo there whenever they use one of your items will steadily remind them of your usefulness — it isn’t unheard of for a one-time customer to return to your website after some time upon suddenly recalling where they got their branded stapler.
They’re physical reminders in a digital world
Everything we looked at in the previous section can be done through online material to some extent. You can show pride in your brand through following consistent brand guidelines, pleasantly surprise customers by offering discounts, and find ways to be useful through offering convenient resources and/or utilities (a delivery cost calculator, for instance). But something that cannot be replicated online (even in part) is the tangibility and stubbornness of physical items. The screen of your smartphone, tablet, desktop or laptop is a slate that you can wipe clean at any time, so once you lose interest in something, it disappears forever. Not so with promotional products — they have weight, and shape, and they linger.
Most of us find it hard to throw things away. That’s not to say that we’re hoarders, but it does mean this: if we’re unsure whether we want to keep particular items, we’re more likely to keep them just in case we later need them. You might not care much about a branded USB stick now, but are you ready to throw it away? It’s better to just leave it on the desk, surely, where it can never quite be forgotten entirely.
They’re surprisingly easy to provide
One of the biggest reasons why businesses are reluctant to use promotional products is that they are intimidated by the difficulty and expense of buying and using them, but the digital world has made a lot of things easier, and this is one of them. Just as an internet novice can start a simple online store, a design novice can create basic graphics to forward to a dedicated merchandise company — no expertise required. As such, it’s actually not all that complicated or expensive to dip a toe into the branded merchandise world today, whether to source products to use for your business or to sell to your customers — and if you’re happy with the results of your initial experiments, you can easily scale up the budget to go for something more creative and in-depth. In a time of ceaseless digital promotion, going down the old-fashioned route of focusing on physical items is a breath of fresh air. Whether you find an easy automation option or choose to invest in something more well-rounded, try working promotional products into your marketing strategy — you’ll be more than happy with the results.