These days there so many different versions of the “truth”. Business has been caught in the crossfire while politicians and the media fight for credibility, so much so that most people find it difficult to know what to believe. In the new, disconnected digital business environment consumers find it impossible to work out who to believe. With both sides pointing the finger and accusing each other of spreading “fake news” it’s hard to know the truth about anything anymore.
So how, in this era of uncertainty and fake news how can a small business have their marketing message taken seriously?
It might seem old fashioned but using promotional products is a proven way to avoid much of this confusion. When a business prospect holds something real, like a branded product they automatically reach an opinion of its practical value and a subjective, related emotional judgment of the whole. These personal impressions, both good and bad merge with any other preconceptions to form an overall attitude towards the brand with which the product is associated.
Branded merchandise, unlike other forms of business communication, does not rely on the manipulation of emotions to manage perceptions. The right promotional item creates a direct connection with consumers and allows you to avoid the negative impressions which come with the rising public cynicism in these days of “fake news”.
Managing consumer opinions of your brand and market offerings is the main purpose of promotional marketing. Billions are spent across the world every day on advertising but the final outcome can never be trusted to be exactly as planned. Research confirm using economical promotional products compared against more traditional forms of brand promotion reinforces positive perceptions. Particularly in the case in this day of digital communication few people with whom we do business are met face-to-face so doubts easily creep in. Branding something as simple to printed pens and handing them out to customers and business prospects is a way to escape the negative filters which dominate so much on-line chatter.
If you think about it, how can a good quality product with genuine practical value do anything for your brand but create a positive impression?
A good example of promotional marketing’s effectiveness is in the world of eco-friendly claims, about which consumer cynicism is growing. Many companies have realised it’s necessary to turn to physical products as a way of reinforcing their “green” company claims. So many organisations have unjustly claimed a clean, green reputation that there is great doubt about such claims amongst consumers. By simply offering your business contacts a branded item which reflects brand values and as an example, is made from recycled materials is now known to be more convincing that any number of bold claims made in general media advertising.
Unfortunately many people see a marketing world where bluster and misinformation is the norm so the simple act of placing a branded item in the hands of consumers creates an impression that no amount of online advertising can replicate. The simple reality of a physical product you hold in your hand cannot be denied.
It seems every year we spend less time engaging with each other and more time engaging with a screen, even now as we walk along the street. In this rapidly changing environment the simple act of handing your clients a useful branded product is a more powerful way to build and maintain relationships than ever. The temptation exists for all marketers to spend their budgets online. It’s easy to manage, analyse and assess; and can be scaled up or down in minutes. But keeping a foot in the “real” world, using promotional merchandise to connect with consumers is a proven way to leverage greater sales from your general advertising messaging.