It's time for you to plan your next promotion. You want to establish your brand to your members or customers, or create a real splash for your annual meeting. You need an innovative traffic-builder for your upcoming trade show, or you're tasked with building a save-the-date campaign from scratch.

What can you do to create a successful promotion? After all, results are everything. And you can get the results you need. Read this page. Ask yourself the "key questions" that we've posed to you, and you'll be on your way! You can use this page as a guide, but you're never alone in planning your promotions. You can contact us and one of our experienced associates will guide you step-by-step, from concept to completion.


Key Question: Who is your audience?
Does this question sound too simple? Of course , they are your members, customers, prospects. But who are they really ?

They are business people, professionals, frequent fliers, salespeople, buyers, parents, spouses, bosses, leaders, men or women, younger or older, extroverts or introverts. Knowing this can help to set a course for your promotion.

Where will you find the answers? Your database can provide at least part of it for you.

Key Question: What's important to them?
A more daunting question. What's important to your target is likely not in your database. You can make it part of your data, though, if you ask the question in the first place.

You have the opportunity to ask this question every time you communicate with your target, like when you ask them to…
  • Complete a registration form for a meeting or workshop
  • Fill out a "new member" or "new client" form
  • Sign up for an accreditation program
  • Register for a free gift or drawing prize at your trade show booth
  • Participate in a focus group
To help you to plan promotions to your target audience, you'll want to find out…
  • What are their greatest concerns: Not enough time, trying to juggle career and family, uncertainty of their job or industry, confused over technology, need more education, pressure from bosses to get more done?
  • What's important to them at work—convenience, integrity, loyalty, cost?
  • Where do they work—office, downtown, suburbia, at home, from their cars?
  • How do they commute—auto, train, bus, walking?
  • How often do they travel for business—by air, train or car?
  • Do they attend meetings, conventions, workshops, or trade shows?
  • Do they participate in continuing education?
  • When they travel for business, do they bring family along?
  • What's important to them away from work—at home or at play?
  • Are they members of professional, trade, or civic organizations?
  • What are their favorite hobbies?
  • What do they like to do as a family?
  • Do they have pets?
Now that you know the who of your target audience, you're much better prepared to really reach your target with your next promotion.


Your company or organization can solve at least some of your target's problems or concerns, and benefit them in a unique way. If not, you wouldn't be in business. So your marketing message is geared toward letting your target know which of his problems you can solve, and which unique benefits you can provide.

Key Question: How do I get my message to stand out in a crowd?
This has to be one of your biggest issues. Your message needs to cut through the clutter and stand out. It needs the WOW factor.

What kind of vehicle will you chose to carry your message? Consider the value of promotional products.
Case History—Computer Systems Authority (CSA)

"When the programming and staffing firm Computer Systems Authority needed to stand out in a crowd of 150 competitors at a trade show in Hawaii, they did so by knowing intimately the show's audience and handing out promotional products that were undeniably compelling to visitors. Starting with CSA's tagline, "Real Solutions for a Real World," the company formed a campaign that provided cleverly targeted merchandise to reinforce the fact that CSA "rescued" clients from a variety of programming and staffing issues. Trade show staff were positioned as "lifesavers" and dressed in Hawaiian shirts embroidered with the company's motto. Rolls of lifesaver candies were imprinted with the CSA logo and used as give-aways, along with replica life preserver beverage holders that were stuffed with service information. As a result, CSA's booth was the busiest at the show."

CSA really stood out in the crowd of competitors. They weren't afraid to get a little crazy—the Hawaiian shirts were a nice touch—and the lifesaver candies and beverage holders really drove home their point.
Key Question: How do I get my message to stick?
A major consideration. Your message has to stick to your target's consciousness until he is ready to make a buying decision, and that decision may be next week or next year. After all, you don't want to be like the company who spent their entire advertising budget on a 30 second Superbowl commercial. What happens the other 364 days of the year?

Again, consider the value of using promotional products. Using the data you've collected, you'll know what type of vehicle will have the most staying power for your message. Pick the right product, and your message may stay with your target forever! Some suggestions for matching promotional products to specific targets are…
  • The Commuter. Convenience items for his car like stainless-steel travel mugs. Reading accessories (book lights, book marks), headphones, and portable media players for mass-commuters.
  • The Traveler. There are thousands of items that will appeal to your targets who travel. From alarm clocks, to wi-fi finders, and modem cord winders.
  • The Desk Jockey. Take advantage of valuable desktop real estate by giving your targets an item that they will want to keep on their desks. Make sure the item is unique and eye-catching (see the case history of CTIA below), or very useful to your target.
  • The Telecommuter. For those targets who work at home, think of organization-type products like desktop organizers, CD storage products, small bulletin boards, or other items that your target might want and need, but wouldn't buy for himself.
  • The Weekend Warrior. Find out how your target spends his weekends and off-time. Conventional wisdom says that in a business-to-business environment, your promotions must consist of items that the target will use in his office or work environment. But appealing to him by giving promotional products that are used outside of work may make you stand out even more.
Case History: Cellular Telephone and Internet Association (CTIA)

CTIA needed to get it's new slogan, "Competition, Innovation, and Safety" across to its members and more importantly, to lawmakers on the state and federal level. Their goal was to get plenty of up-front attention, but they knew their message had to last a long time. They decided to create a collectable, and brand it with their message. With our help, they designed a Beanie Baby®-style toy in the shape of a cell phone. The front of the
toy was the friendly-looking little cell phone, and the back carried the slogan. CTIA made another great choice when they decided to make a series of the little beanies, creating them in 9 colors.

The recipients were WOWed. CTIA says the beanies have been their most successful promotion to date. Their targets went wild over the toys and wanted the whole set. CTIA continued to release the beanies to their targets in varying colors and sizes over the next two years, creating a collectable that left their message indelibly etched onto their target's consciousness.

You may know your target, have a perfect message to appeal to them, and have chosen a unique vehicle to deliver it. You're all set, right? Maybe not. You may still have a few wrinkles to work out—the logistics.

Key Question: What works, what DOESN'T work?
Here are some questions you'll want to ask yourself before choosing a promotional product to carry your message:
  • Will I deliver it by mail? Am I likely to have any problems mailing it, such as breakage (glass), or melting (like chocolate in warm months)?
  • What is the occasion—a large meeting, trade show, personal visit in the target's office? What are the logistics of getting the gifts to the event?
  • What will the target do with my branded promotional product—will he take it home with him if he's at a meeting or trade show? Will there be any problems getting it home, like at security screening for carry-on baggage (knives, scissors, box cutters)? Will the item be too big or bulky to travel well?
  • If my choice of promotional product is an item that the target already owns, like a keychain or travel coffee mug, will my item be unique enough to motivate the target to replace his existing item with mine?
  • How much is it worth to get a favorable response? This is a great question to ask yourself when setting a budget for a promotion. If a favorable response from a prospect will bring in $500 a year to your organization in revenue, then how much should you spend to land him?

Use these tips to help you pick the perfect vehicle for carrying your important message:
  • Use Color. Whether you are choosing tote bags or beach towels for your next promotion, don't be afraid to go with color. Bright or neon colors make your product stand out in the crowd.
  • Use Humor. Not necessarily the proverbial rubber chicken (although we can certainly imprint those for you), yet choosing a promotional product that has a touch of humor often sets your promotion and message apart from others. Be careful not to take humor too far, so that your message becomes obscured by the joke, or that some of your audience becomes offended.
  • The Envy Factor. Can your gift to your target create a touch of envy from their friends or co-workers? If your gift is desirable, you may create a buzz this way.
  • Use the Personal Touch. Whether it's a handwritten note or a customized item, adding something personal to a promotional package can make its message more meaningful.
  • Continuity. No matter what products you choose, it's important to keep some type of theme running throughout the promotion. Consider creating a collection or set so that your targets will anticipate the next release.
  • Surprise Them. Make your message memorable by using promotional products in an unusual way. A Danish brewery created quite a stir by printing fake passports. Their target audience couldn't resist looking inside the passports (which were very real-looking), where the brewery's message replaced the standard passport pages.

Regardless of your task at hand—planning your next meeting, trade show, or product roll-out—it is key for you to either establish or reinforce your brand image to your target audience.

Your brand should exemplify your organization's best qualities, making every prospect want to purchase your product or service. Some of the world's most successful organizations have devoted millions to build and maintain their brand image, but you can boost your brand without spending an extra penny!

Think of the printed and promotional products that you already use within your organization. Do they have a homogenous look and feel? Do all of them carry the same message—your message that carries your brand identification? By simply changing what you print on items that you already buy, you can create a family of related products that develop or reinforce your brand to your targets.

Are all of these items currently carrying your unique brand?
  • Business stationery
  • Outgoing envelopes for mailings and even invoicing
  • Shipping labels
  • Printed business forms, like invoices and acknowledgments
  • E-forms for online registration, etc.
  • Direct mail pieces
  • Brochures
  • Emails—does your email template help to brand you?
  • Thank you cards and personal notes
  • Presentation folders and other custom packaging for your marketing materials
  • Customer gifts and promotions

Why do you exhibit at trade shows? A surprisingly large number of organizations say, "Because we have to." And these same organizations report less-than-optimal results from their trade show investments. How can you make sure you get the best results for your exhibiting dollar?

Bring 'Em to the Booth!

In today's competitive exhibiting market, a really cool premium offer is basically the price of admission just to get a seat at the table. Exhibitors are raffling off iPods, portable DVD players, even Segways and Vespas in an effort to bring in more traffic. Smaller, less-expensive gifts are often handed out like candy (actually candy is one of the more popular trade show giveaways!) to anyone who will stop by. This strategy can work for you if the items that you give away are unique or useful enough to carry your message until the target is ready to act on your offer.

But why not consider targeting pre-registration lists of the attendees that you really want to spend time with at the show? Targeted mailings to pre-qualified attendees announcing a premium raffle or a giveaway of higher end items will attract the kind of traffic that you really want to your booth—prospects who can act on your offer.

If you limit your gift-giving to qualified targets, you can give fewer yet higher-end gifts for the same budget you might have used with the "shotgun" approach. These higher-end gifts are more likely to entice your pre-qualified prospects to really show up at your booth, giving you a much higher likelihood of success.

What works?

A good answer to that question would be, "Whatever the prospect wishes he owned but doesn't." That's where premium raffles seem to work so well. Look for items that are hottest on the market—whether it's the latest X-Box technology or anything else that your target covets but probably wouldn't go out and buy for himself. Many of those premium items can be branded with your logo and message.

But many exhibitors have found that giving nice gifts to each of their qualified prospects that visit their booth is better than raffling one really big gift. After all, your target has accepted your invitation and made the effort to come by your booth, so you won't want him to walk away empty-handed.

Most popular items are utilitarian and unisex, small and packable. Choose items that are attractive, appropriate, thought-provoking, current and have a high perceived value. In the past, typical trade show giveaways were work-related items, such as pens, post-it notes, and bags. The current trend gravitates more toward home and personal items that help the recipients define their lifestyles. People are impressed by things they don't have that will help them get the most out of life.


You will probably have a mailing piece as a part of your next promotion. How important is it to you that your mailing gets opened by the recipients and that your message sticks with them instead of getting thrown into the trash?

Consider the beauty of "lumpy" mail. As opposed to flat mail, which regularly gets tossed without a second look, lumpy mail almost always gets opened. When have you not opened a box, tube, padded envelope, or can that you received in the mail? Most of us can't resist at least finding out what's inside.

The "lumpy" part of lumpy mail is usually a promotional product. Whether it's a calendar, a pad of post-it notes, a magnet, or a unique pen, it will carry your message with more first-impact and with greater staying power than any sheet of paper. What can your prospect do with a flier or brochure? He'll read it, but then he has to either file it (never to be found again!) or throw it away. But the lumpy item that comes with it that carries the most vital part of your message (the date and location of a meeting and the phone number and website for registration, for instance), will be retained.


We hope the information that we've provided you on this page will help you to create successful promotions. But we want you to know that when it comes to conceptualizing, brainstorming, and researching promotional products for your next promotion, you are never alone. For over 10 years, promotional products and specialty printing has been our only business, and we've gotten very good at what we do.

If you'd like to have a personal consultation with one of our promotional and marketing experts, all you have to do is ask. Call or email us to take the next step in creating your most successful promotion ever!

Phone: 540.659.0065