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What makes promotional items POP!

I’m a strong believer in the “trail of tangibles.” Promotional material that I give to clients from time to time to simply remind them that 1. I’m still in business and 2. I think of them often, and well, enough to want to send them something to keep them thinking of me.

While getting directions from John Ruiz, Chief Concierge at the Omni La Mansion Del Rio in San Antonio, (see my last blog posting), he interrupted speaking with Karen Stanush of The Original Image of San Antonio who sells printed promotional materials. It turns out, Karen was traveling within a few blocks of where I was going, and kindly gave me a ride.

I wanted an honest opinion from someone who specializes in promotional materials… but who wasn’t really trying to sell me anything… and here was my opportunity.

“What’s your most successful type of promotional item?” I asked. Most of Karen’s answer didn’t surprise me, but she did have an observation that really did have an impact on me. I thought I’d share it with you.

Obviously, Karen said, it should be something that makes sense in the context of your business. While a rubber ducky is cute, it simply wouldn’t be appropriate for some businesses. If your business was, say in the bathroom arena, great idea. If you’re in the trucking business, it probably wouldn’t. (Although, arguably, truck rhymes with duck… but then again so do other words that end with _uck.) Make sure the object fits your business or branding.

And it didn’t surprise me when she told me it’s best to give away as a promotional idea something that has enough value, and uniqueness, that it will stick around a bit. For that reason, I tend not to give away consumables, because they are, well consumed. If I were to give away a consumable food, I’d give away a jar of coffee beans. Something that will stick around for a while because you don’t normally consume a bag of coffee beans at a sitting. (Especially if you value sleep.)

But here was her first answer that surprised me. The number one thing that makes a promotional item “pop.” It must have a memorable presentation. It should ideally require a moment to engage in the object. Perhaps it was surprising for me, a guy who thinks if a gift is wrapped in newspaper, or even a plastic bag, it’s good enough. But Karen was very specific. The wrapping, or how the object is contained, must be nice and engaging. Ideally, something cool, out of the ordinary, and something that suggests a promise of something worth uncovering.

I guess I shouldn’t find it surprising when she said it works especially well with women. (My wife and daughters always shake their head with chagrin when they see my Christmas wrapping style. I use the same wrapping till I run out. So it’s conceivable that if you’re receiving multiple presents from me, they will all be wrapped in the same paper. I do, however vary my bow, (pre-made, no ribbon, thank-you-very-much!).

Make promotional gifts make sense in the context of your business or brand, make them something that will stick around, and don’t forget, at least for me, to let a woman decide what wrapping looks best.

That’s a wrap! wrap it pretty!

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