10 Promotional Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

10 Promotional Marketing Mistakes to Avoid


Promotional merchandise is one of the most effective, ROI-friendly ways to market your business. But, just like anything else, maybe you’ve had a bad experience or two. Not everyone gets everything right the first time, but that is no reason to think that it’s a waste of time or money. When executed correctly, using promotional products to attract the right clientele is an excellent way to market and grow your company.

By avoiding the following mistakes, your next campaign is sure to be highly successful:

1. Not Planning Ahead

If your company is going to promote at a music festival in December, the worst thing you could do is begin planning in October. Not only do you have to make a clear plan on your end, the merchandise company you use needs time to develop the perfect product for you, not to mention ship it out. Don’t think that everything will go right the first time- it takes time, communication, and patience to get your visions aligned. Allow plenty of time for trial and error; you don’t want to be stuck with your shipment halfway across the country after your deadline.

2. Failing to Make a Clear Plan

After you make sure you start your campaign with time to spare, do not forget the importance of, well, actually having a plan. You are heading nowhere if you order a ton of merch without thinking about what your intent is. Do you want to drive traffic to your website, increase your Facebook following, or attract a new type of clientele? Think about your end goals, determine what steps you need to make, and figure out what role your merchandise will play in achieving that goal.

3. Ignoring Your Demographic

Any successful company knows their demographic- from what social media platform they prefer to what their weekend activities are. If you don’t know who is using your product, how will you know how to please them today, not to mention five years from now? You might give your 15-year-old nephew a Moby CD, which you think is totally rad, but he’s going to roll his eyes and throw it in the bin. The same rule applies to your clients with promotional merchandise.

4. Not Giving the People What They Want

You might have the best of intentions and think that you are catering to your demographic’s every desire, but it never hurts to do some direct research. Use your social media following to ask questions and poll what your clientele would actually love to receive, instead of just assuming. Because, well, we all know where assuming gets us.

5. Omitting the Right Contact Information

Let’s face it; no matter how cool of a product you’re distributing, if you’re not giving out the right contact information, chances are that you won’t be contacted. Say your demographic is millennials, but you put your phone number instead of your Facebook page on the merch. Wake-up call: millennials are not likely to pick up the phone and call you.

6. Skimping on Product Quality

No one likes a cheap skate, and when your cutting-edge flashlight stops working after a day, you’re not necessarily going to be viewed as a reliable company. Remember that your promotional merchandise is many times the first impression you’re giving to a potential consumer-much like a business card or the dress you wear on a first date. Sometimes that extra cash spent reaps much more than you’d ever expect.

7. Getting the Wrong Promotional Products

Maybe you own a landscaping company and you spent $500 on Pokémon Post-Its in an attempt to gain more clients. Alas, the cute paper pads were gobbled up by potential clients’ children, but no one contacted you, because all of those pages were doodled on with crayons. Be sure the product you distribute directly relates not only to your demographic, but your campaign intentions as well.

8. Not Segmenting Your Marketing

Sometimes even the perfect product isn’t quite right for some of your demographic. Perhaps you own a clothing line that caters to women aged 21 to 35; however, some of the women are mothers, others are business women, and others simply want the newest trend. When using promotional merchandise, sometimes it’s wise not to approach it as a one-size-fits-all campaign. Diversify, and think about using a few different products for the same campaign.

9. Distributing Poorly

Okay, so you know your demographic inside out, you have the perfect product, everything is on schedule, and you’ve segmented your marketing scheme. Everything is golden, right? Don’t kick up your feet just yet. You could be passing out five-carat diamond rings, but if the product never reaches the consumer, your campaign will fail. Ensure that you’ve delegated distribution responsibilities properly within your company. It doesn’t matter what your mode of distribution is; make sure that the rings get into the right hands by your proposed deadline.

10. Being Like Everyone Else

Lastly, don’t be afraid to represent your company in a unique, authentic way. Just because all of your competition is giving out visors doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. Be sure that you select merchandise that your clientele will love, but also ensure that the merch reminds them of your company- and only your company. After all, the purpose of promotional merchandise is not to make random people happy; it’s to make them your happy, loyal clients.

Overall, promotional merchandise is a very cost-effective, influential way to market. While not everyone gets it right the first time around, if you follow the above suggestions, your campaign should prove to be a huge success. After all, how else are you going to make people walking advertisements for your company?

Have you used promotional merchandise in your marketing campaigns? If so, what was your experience? Do you have anything to add to the above list?

Be Sure to Also Check Out Our Article on Building Brand Loyalty with a Well-Timed Marketing Campaign

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