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Domenick Celentano

Promotional Products - The lack of Marketing Power?

By July 18, 2011

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Are you being "sold" on how you should buy a thousand pens with your company name on it?

I just read The Surprising Power of Promotional Products and frankly see this as a distraction.  I always focus on providing tips for helping the entrepreneur how to start a food business, so unless you have some extra cash floating around, put your money elsewhere.

Promotional products, promotional items can be a good investment for good will or as a takeaway when you are at a trade show or a convention.  What are Promotional Products? They are all of those items you get imprinted with a company logo, ostensibly to stick around and keep you remembering the brand or vendor. They are pens, posit-it notes, glasses, note pads, etc. Promotional Products are so big, that there is a trade group, Promotional Products Association International, representing the industry and even a trade show, the PPIA Expo.

How do you decide?

Promotional products are only valid after other tools are in place. If you are attending The Fancy Food Show for example, yes... you should consider something as a leave behind. BUT... try to make it relevant to your product. In my 35 years of working as a food entrepreneur, promotional products benefit the vendor more than they do the small business owner (the one who purchases these products).

If you are tight on money, these are not good investments and please, please, please, don't trade your marketing dollars in other areas for this!

IF you are running a food business and have extra marketing dollars in the budget, then carefully consider a promotional product that is relevant to what you sell and something useful for your customers. Maybe you can give away a an apple or pear with your company logo printed in edible ink? Promoting food with food!

I see far too may clients waste money in this area when they should be spending on direct email marketing or social media. How many promotional products have you been given ONLY to have tossed them in the garbage or stashed them somewhere... where they will be found by some anthropologist 500 years from now :)

Look, I am not bashing people in this business but today, every food entrepreneur starting a food business or running a food business in today's challenging climate is stretched from a capital standpoint. I hate to see good capital spent on things that have little or no return on investment.

It's your money so spend it carefully.


July 25, 2011 at 6:34 am
(1) Cheryl Smithem says:

Dom, I agree with you. I, too, read that same post yesterday and thought his example of the letter opener was interesting in that it was durable, unlike most promotional products.

Getting the odd pen at a trade show so one can write an order is good, but I’m with you when it comes to logoed promotional products.

The only time I’ve used them recently was thumb drives with a client’s presentation on them–the potential retail outlet required digital presentations, and this was the best way to ship them, and keep them from being mixed up with other items on those busy executives’ desks.

July 27, 2011 at 7:30 am
(2) Fruit Juice says:

Fruit Juice is good for health

December 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm
(3) MHoward says:

I disagree with your take on this. As a small business owner I have found that promotional products that are relevant are the best form of advertising. Notice that I said relevant which is what you were trying to get at but writing on an apple with edible ink means the message is consumed and what is left is trash. Nobody wants to buy trash and many marketing people are just looking at making a sale – true of all industries not just this one so please don’t take offensive. We are all just trying to make ends meet and if having a pizza cutter with the local pizza joints name on it gets them more calls then they should be including them with orders to new customers.

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