At a recent conference, I returned to my room to a bag full of tchotchkes from sponsors. Most went straight into the trash.
Filling my hotel room with cheap junk is not a good way to make me think fondly of you or your product.
When you are marketing a marketing service to marketers, the bar is even higher than it is for most B2B marketers. Your marketing will be seen as an indicator of the quality of your marketing service. (Yes, that’s a lot of marketing in two sentences. SEO folks would accuse me of keyword stuffing).
The promotional product business was a $15.6 billion business in 2009 (source). But just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean you should fill our rooms, homes and desks with junk we don’t want or need. Instead of putting your audience at the center of your marketing, you are sending the message that you just don’t care.
So, if you must keep giving out tchotchkes, here are a few guidelines that will improve the chance they will be noticed, appreciated and earn a spot on the recipient’s desk or in their life (with examples, good and bad, from my recent experience):
1. Keep It One Size Fits All
Give something that no one expects sizes on! One vendor gave a pair of branded flip flops. Presumably to make certain everyone could wear them, they were size X-Large. Probably the equivalent of about mens’ 12 (I wear a 9). Into the trash.
Save the t-shirts and other wearable products for your booth, not a gift bag.
2. Fit It To A Small Suitcase
I’ve seen the big boxes shipped to conferences, full of booth materials and tchotchkes. Unfortunately (or not) attendees are generally going home with one small suitcase. If your promotional items don’t fit, they will never make it back to the office.
A big Velcro dart board? Yes, I get it, you offer targeted advertising. But since it won’t fit in my suitcase, my kids won’t have the opportunity to try it out. Into the trash.
Make certain recipients can get it home.
3. Make It Worth Giving
Quality and tchotchke are not normally used in the same sentence, but if you are handing out junk, what do you really expect back?
USB flash drives have become a standard. When I can buy a three-pack of 16 GB drives at my local Costco, an old 512 MB or 1 GB drive seems like a joke. I may toss it in my bag (at least it is small and can serve a purpose), but when I reach for a flash drive, I’ll look for a larger one first.
The flip flops referenced above? They were hard plastic and just felt like they would be uncomfortable. Yes, again, they went into the trash.
If it is junk relative to the things we already have, it won’t make it home.
4. Connect It To Your Story
My favorite product from the conference was a mug from NextMark and their Digital Media Happiness Project. It is lightly branded and connected to a research project I found interesting. I’m using it in the office now.
Instead of striving to make your tchotchke memorable, connect it to something your audience wants to remember.
Whatever you do, leave someone with something about you. I was astounded by the number of branded products with no information about the company. Two sentences with what makes your solution worth remembering, a URL and a business card, included with the package, is appropriate. Otherwise, your tchotchke is likely just a branded product that tells us nothing about why we should care about you.
What is the worst tchotchke you have received from a marketing vendor? Share your example, or advice for marketers that use promotional products, in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).
Photo: I took this picture with many of the tchotchkes put in my room at the event.