Gordon Glenister, Director General of the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) recently shared some valuable insights at Marketing Week Live. It’s common knowledge across much of the UK that consumers love to get a bit of something for free, but the importance of promotional products to any given brand are in many instances vastly underestimated. Gordon explains this and the power that promotional products have within the traditional marketing mix in this short video:

Crucial Importance for a Brand’s Marketing Mix

One of the key takeaways from the interview was that of Glenister’s insistence on making promotional products an integral and important part in any brand’s marketing mix. This contrasts with the way in which some are more inclined to see such items as add-ons or afterthoughts. He spoke of the way in which digital media may be coming into its own as a marketing tool, but the uniquely tangible properties of promotional products sets them in a league of their own.

And as these products are on average retained for up to two years, their long-term impact is far superior to that of any digital ad.

Comparing the Meerkat

As an illustration of the power of promotional products designed exclusively for a specific brand, Mr. Glenister highlighted the success of Comparethemarket.com’s meerkat campaign. To date, no less than 2 million of the associated cuddly toys have been produced and are only available to actual customers. He spoke of the way in which the toy itself doesn’t just serve as a novelty, but is something of a physical incarnation of the brand’s image, its icons and all it stands for. As such, compared to say a promotional pen with a simple string of text on it, the meerkat campaign represents the most powerful promotion product push in recent history.

Relevance and Usefulness

He also highlighted the importance of usefulness and relevance when creating a promotional product to be used as part of a brand’s marketing mix. It’s been proven time and time again that when an item serves a purpose rather than just existing as a novelty, it is categorically more likely to be retained. He showed as an example a branded webcam, though on the whole the highest-ranked promotional product for 2014 as a whole is in fact the USB data stick.

Early Adoption Crucial

In terms of the actual marketing strategy, one of his most important advisory notes was that of ensuring sufficient time is spent planning the promotional product venture well in advance of going ahead with it. He spoke of how rushed decisions or those made on the back of little to no real thought could lead to stunted and less effective campaigns than those given the necessary time investment.

Use the Community

And just to round off, Mr. Glenister advised all businesses and brands across the board never to just dive into promotional product purchases from standard catalogues, but to instead use the PP community as a whole to help generate unique and relevant ideas in accordance with the brand itself. Bespoke promotional merchandise represents an enormous area of growth for the industry right now and is only expected to continue its expansion going forward.