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How-to Create A Successful Promotional Products Campaign

Feb 26, 2008
With a vast array of promotional products available, determining the most appropriate product requires both internal and external research. Determining the organization's goals is just as important as knowing the consumer's expectations. A strategic communication plan acts as a guide for marketers from start to finish. All nine of these steps are important parts of a campaign, but remember to stay flexible in order to meet specific organizational needs and allow room for creativity.

1. Choose the Goal: The goal of a promotional campaign can be anything from client acquisition to customer retention or increasing brand awareness to brand repositioning. Goals are meant to be general and are used to guide marketers in the right direction.

2. Specify Objectives: Objectives are the milestones that must be reached in order to meet the goal. They must be specific, measurable and attainable. Use action verbs to describe the objectives to clearly spell out what must be accomplished.

3. Define the Target Audience: Like objectives, the target audience must also be specific, measurable and attainable. In addition, the target audience must also be responsive. It is important to consider whether the business offers a product or service that is appropriate for this target audience. Is this product or service something consumers generally need, want or is it an unsought good?

4. Research When, Where & How to Reach the Target Audience: Is there a common place where members of the target audience gather? Perhaps there is an upcoming event that draws a large population of people or trade show created specifically for the target audience. Contests with prize giveaways or reward programs are a great way to draw attention through the use of promotional products. Be sure to have permissions cleared before implementing the campaign.

5. Choose a Theme: The theme should be centered around the campaign's goal. Design logos, fonts and color schemes that are consistent throughout the campaign.

6. Create a Message: The message is derived from the campaign's theme and is used to solidify the business's product or service.

7. Select the Product: With thousands and thousands of promotional products available, it helps to narrow down the product categories that best suit the nature of the business, the campaign theme or the target audience. Most products are practical, generating usage by the recipient which increases exposure to the brand logo and message during every use. Keep in mind that quality products tend to generate more buzz and boost the businesses' overall value, but simple products, such as pens and coasters, might be all that is needed to increase brand exposure.

8. Implement the Campaign: Designate who is in charge of implementing the campaign and how the products will be transported and distributed. Train employees properly and prepare them for consumer inquiries to ensure that information is clear and consistent. It is important to keep track of how many consumers were reached for later evaluation.

9. Evaluate: Determine the results of the campaign. Were the objectives met? Pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of each element of the campaign. Perhaps the message might need improving or a different promotional product would be more suitable. An easy way to evaluate progress is to ask the simple question, "How did you hear about us?" A simple survey can help determine if promotional products, advertisements, word-of-mouth or other marketing strategies are generating the most business.


Business: First National Bank of Collegetown, USA

Goal: First National Bank wants to increase the number of savings accounts created by college students.


1) Increase the number of student savings account by 30 percent by Aug. 31, 2008.

Target Audience: College students between the ages of 18 and 24 within the FNB service area.

Reaching the Target Audience:

1) College Orientation; approximate attendance is 100-200 students per session; Dates: May 26-July 25, Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

2) Ice Cream Social; approximate attendance is 800 students; Date: Friday, Aug. 15, 7:00 p.m.

*Obtain permission from University Special Events office.

Theme: Savings for Your Future.

Message: Start off your future on the right foot. Open a Savings Account with us today.

Product: 500 Pizza Cutters and 300 Piggy Banks with bank logo and message imprinted on the products.

Implementation: Sue, our bank manager, is in charge of ordering the product. Three representatives from different branches of the bank, Joe, Cindy and Nate, will attend the orientation sessions and distribute the products at the company booth. The same representatives will administer a survey and sign-up table at the Ice Cream Social. Students who fill out a survey receive a FNB piggy bank. Additional collateral material will also be printed and distributed at every event.

Evaluation: An average of 120 students visited the FNB booth at each orientation session. All accepted a promotional product, and 2 out 3 students picked up brochures and asked additional questions. All 300 surveys were completed at the Ice Cream Social and all promotional products and collateral material were distributed.

The number of students savings accounts increased by 35 percent by Aug. 31, exceeding the campaign objectives.

Strength: Students responded well to the promotional products. Many said the products were useful, fun and appealing.

Weakness: Many students wanted to sign up for an account at the orientations while their parents were with them. We were unable to provide that service. Consider setting up computers that allow account set-up at next year's orientations.
About the Author
Thanh Do is a student in the William Allen White school of jounalism at the University of Kansas. She is also a member of Absorbent, Ink.'s marketing team. Absorbent, Ink: Promotional Products
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