Why promotional marketing stands out in the digital age

For those of us involved in marketing, it’s all too easy to forget that the digital revolution hasn’t necessarily changed every consumer behaviour and habit. Many of us still choose to shop in physical spaces, preferring to see a product in real life before we buy it. In the B2B sphere as well, purchasing decisions are often the result of meetings and relationships that have taken place in the real world. These ‘real world’ touch points, from product launch events to the department store aisle, are still incredibly important in influencing the consumer journey.

Promotional marketing may seem outdated in this digital marketplace but, on the contrary, it has become more relevant than ever. Brand awareness built up online can quickly be surpassed by brand experiences born in the real world. It’s perhaps no surprise then that promotional marketing has been shown to drive a higher ROI than many other forms of advertising. Whilst it may not be as scalable as digital marketing or have anything like its reach, as a way of establishing those all-important physical touchpoints with consumers, it is without equal.

In this article, I want to explore some of the reasons the inherently physical world of promotional marketing is, in fact, flourishing in the digital age.

Promo marketing generates long-term brand exposure and recognition

One of the most powerful assets of promotional marketing is its ability to drive brand awareness over the long term. Physical products are tangible artefacts that don’t disappear into the ether in the way a YouTube video or webpage does. Studies have found that consumers tend to keep promotional products for a year or longer. Whether it’s a pen, a handbag or a USB stick, that’s a lot of potential brand exposure alongside a comparatively transient social media or email marketing campaign.

What’s more, by appealing to our other senses, promotional marketing allows brands to create deeper more meaningful connections with consumers. Most marketing is seen or heard (or both in the case of video) but a physical object that can be touched, experienced and perhaps even smelt is something altogether more compelling.

Promo marketing is ripe for cross-pollination of marketing channels

It’s a misconception that digital marketing and physical marketing are doomed to sit in silos, separated from each other by the mere nature of the medium in which they exist. Cross pollination between physical media and digital media is entirely possible if planned correctly. Technology has created incredible opportunities for marketers to track the consumer journey from physical product to online activity.

Promotional marketing presents many opportunities for pushing consumers towards a brand’s digital assets, whether that be their website or social media channels. Some products will naturally lend themselves to this, such as USB sticks, or other devices with on-board memory, that may come pre-loaded with brand marketing and product info in the form or brochures or video. The same is true of social media as a means of pushing consumers aware of your promotional marketing and how to go about getting their hands on promotional products.

Promotional marketing establishes quality

Giving away a promotional product can help you to establish the quality of your product offering and by extension your brand. Even if you are a service based business, the quality and calibre of your promotional marketing reflects on your brand and will help to build consumer trust. This is why it’s important to establish a positive correlation with your brand by investing in high quality products for your promotional marketing. There is a very real chance your brand building could backfire if your promotional products feel in anyway cheap or poorly made.

Utility is a powerful driver of promotional marketing

Promotional marketing products come in all shapes and sizes, from bags and clothing to phone chargers and USB sticks. Utility however seems to be one of the most powerful determinants of whether a promotional marketing campaign is effective or not. People are bombarded with relatively cheap items these days, but if you can offer them something truly useful and practical for free, then that puts you in a very strong position. Not only will your customers think of your brand every time they get use out of your product, but they’re also more likely to keep it for longer, further establishing brand recognition and advocacy.

Digital marketing complements not competes with promotional marketing

Much promotional marketing, especially in the B2B area, is done via corporate or consumer events. Far from reducing the efficacy and desire for event marketing, the growth and development of social networks has gone hand in hand with event marketing’s continuing success. Events remain a powerful way of brand building and have in fact adapted to incorporate technology and digital media to their advantage.

Live streaming, tweeting, hashtags, online seminars, virtual speakers and social media campaigns have all served to enhance and improve the event experience for attendees, whilst QR codes, RFT technology and more sophisticated conversion tracking has allowed marketers and event organisers to better track ROI and leads post event. All this plays perfectly to promotional marketing, which forms the perfect touch point between those brands exhibiting at an event and the delegates or consumers attending.

About the Author
Steve Hill is the Director of Bag Workshop, a leading UK supplier in promotional bags and custom branded bags. Having worked in marketing for over a decade, Steve stepped aside to found three separate companies supplying bespoke marketing products under the Wurlin Promo umbrella. You can connect with Bag Workshop on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.


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