The Art of Competition: Are we hard-wired for engagement?

There’s a plate of cookies on your kitchen table. Your son and daughter notice the cookies, and they both ask for one.

Your response . . . only one of them can have a cookie, and there will be a contest to determine who gets it.

Wait — you would never do that, right? Because you know what will happen. By turning the cookie into a potentially unattainable prize instead of a simple giveaway, you’ve created a dramatically increased demand for the cookie. Suddenly, that cookie is the hottest thing since molded silicone bandz.

In the world of sibling rivalry, this scenario is a nightmare. In the world of branding, advertising specialties, or promotional products, it’s a gold mine.

The desire to win and be rewarded with a prize: it’s part of human nature. We’re hard-wired for competition.

Contests don’t just create buzz; they facilitate engagement. Branded promotional products can make your logo and your brand part of that engagement.

According to a 2010 study by the Advertising Specialties Institute
– People in the U.S. own nearly 10 promotional products on average
– Promotional products are kept for an average of 5.6 months.
– 41% of those who have received a promotional product indicate their opinion of the advertiser was more favorable after receiving a promotional product.

Just think what happens to that favorable impression when there’s all the lasting buzz of a contest involved. The fun and spirit of competition combined with focused, engaged attention on your brand: now that’s even sweeter than a plate of cookies.


Reusable Bag Alternatives: A Growing Promotional Opportunity

So goes California, so usually goes the nation.

California has been a leading force in pushing forward environment-based legislation. The most recent  is a ban on plastic shopping bags that will be impacting supermarkets, convenience and liquor stores, and pharmacies by the city of Santa Monica beginning September 1, 2011. Fines for ignoring the new ban – $75 per violation, with criminal prosecution possible for repeat offenders. Ouch!

Why should marketers care? Three communities in California and one in Texas have passed plastic bag bans this year. Nationwide, 19 plastic bag bans have been enacted or approved overall, beginning with San Francisco in 2007.

What about paper? In some places they are still offered for free, with a discount going to those who reuse them. Some stores are now charging for them. As grocery prices soar, one can only think that saavy stores may even consider discontinuing them as well another way of preserving margin and keeping product cost low.

Some statistical tidbits from the 2010 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, conducted by the Advertising Specialties Institute are as follows:

–  Impression rate leader: Average of 1078 impressions per month
–  Kept for an average of 6.7 months
–  One of the lowest per impression costs at .001 cents per impression

Never has the reusable tote had such opportunity to gain in popularity. With a large live area for messaging, high impression rates, ability to spur favorable attitudes toward advertisers, the bag is a promotional item poised for growth.


The Not So Blank Page: Creativity and the Promotional Product

You want all eyes on your brand.

You want dazzle consumers with a top-quality, on-trend promotional product.

Now if only you could figure out what that product should be…

It’s the curse of the blinking cursor: you have all the drive and none of the ideas, and you’re left with a blank page staring back at you.

We’ve been turning blinking cursors into celebrated promotional products for twenty years. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to stimulate creativity and help you start brainstorming ideas:

Dump out your bag
Chances are, you carry advertising specialty products around with you every day. What products were memorable or functional enough to make you incorporate them into your daily life? Why?

Get inspired
Think of a time when you’ve witnessed active demand for a promotional product. T-shirts tossed into the crowd at a baseball game? Branded glasses on a special night at the bar? What created that demand?

Be trend-savvy
Watch the people around you. What’s the must-have item this year? In our trend post we discussed how to capitalize on a hot pop culture trend. Which hot trend could connect with your brand?

Be your own market research subject
What grabs your attention when you’re out and about? Are you swayed by an on-pack promotion? Distracted by dealer loaders? Do you catch yourself reading the branded signs in bars or the display enhancers at stores? Imagine your logo on one of those items. What fits? What doesn’t? What would cause you to stop in your tracks?


Six Reasons Promotional Products Build Brand Awareness

Looking for a cost effective way to get your brand or business out there? 

Here are some fun findings from the Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study (released in 2010 by the Advertising Specialties Institute) that underscore the return on investment in promotional products.


#1  Affordable
At $0.005 in the United States and $0.004 in Canada, the cost per impression of promotional products was significantly less expensive than TV, National Magazines, and Spot Radio.

#2  Mindshare
83% of those surveyed indicated they could identify the advertiser on a promotional product they owned.

#3  Engagement
41% of respondents in the United States indicated that their opinion of the advertiser was more favorable after receiving a promotional product. 47% of Canadians thought more highly of the advertiser.

#4  Staying Power
The average length of time a respondent from the United States reported keeping an item was 5.4 months. Canadian respondents kept theirs slightly longer at 5.7 months.

#5  Usefulness
Respondents from the United States and Canada reported using their promotional products 18.2 times a month.

#6  Perceived Value
of respondent in the United States indicated that they will pass along a promotional item they do not intend to keep for themselves to others.

Still don’t buy it? Test the theory. Check your bag, cupboard, desk, or closet. Bet you discover that you have more promotional products than you knew!