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“It’s a slow trip to the trash can, the slower the trip—the better.” That’s what one of my Journalism professors told me about producing a newsletter, magazine or brochure.  The slower the trip meant that they saved it long enough to read it.  I learned to accept that ‘slow trip’ when one newspaper article I wrote ended up at the bottom of a bird cage and another was used to pack dishes in a cardboard box.

Today, I find myself in the promotional products industry. Once again, I must keep my ego in check because there’s a lot of junk out there and many times it’s a quick trip to the trash can.  We have all received these items at a trade show or event: a pen that won’t write or breaks, the stress ball that really doesn’t reduce stress and the all- in-one tool that comes apart in your trunk before you get home.

Avoid Throwaway Marketing

Just because you put your company logo on it doesn’t mean it won’t end up in a trash can.  Many marketers just get tired of looking at all those catalogs and Websites for that perfect giveaway that won’t be a throwaway.  They might need thousands of these promotional items and the price just doesn’t work into their budget, so they order what they used last year or something cheap.

And you know what your customer or a prospect does with these cheap “promotional” items? The same thing you do when you get junk, they throw it away.

Working for the Worrell Corporation, I have seen firsthand the value of a quality promotional product. Worrell Corporation follows these simple steps:

  • Learn a business’s goals – what does the business want to accomplish at an event or trade show?
  • Understand the company’s brand strategy – where the brand is now and where the company wants it to go.
  • Build a cohesive plan – bring together print, promotional items and branded apparel – so that the event or trade show is maximized. As they say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

So how can you avoid the common pitfall of becoming a throwaway marketing professional? Make sure that your promotional item, whatever it may be, meets two criteria:

  • High Perception of Value – This does NOT mean that the item must be expensive. Value is defined as the relative worth, merit or importance of something. Value is found in many ways: retail value comparison, uniqueness, and investment versus appraisal. But a surefire way to make certain there’s value in your promotional item is to make sure that it provides utility.
  • Provides Utility – Not all expensive items are useful and not all useful items are expensive. What’s more important: spending over-budget to get a promotional item YOU like or taking a moment to step back and think about how your END CUSTOMER will find a use for it? For a promotional item to really make an impact – it needs to STAY with your customer; the only way to make that happen is if it provides utility.

If the item can’t meet one of the above prerequisites then all your efforts, and investment, might just be heading to the trash can.

Many businesses have learned to include experts early in the conversation so that an unbiased look at a product, brand, event or trade show can help improve the results.  Strong relationships are built around honesty.  It’s hard to tell someone you don’t want their trash when they hand it to you.  Be humble and remember, that even for a promotional product, it’s a slow trip to the trash can – the slower the better.  But why does the promotional item have to end up in the trash? With help, you can navigate the cluttered world of promotional items and make sure that you’re developing campaigns that are effective, within budget and successful.