Promotional Products as Part of the Marketing Mix

Published In: Resources


Whether for a new business or organisation, or as an ongoing strategy for established ones, developing an effective marketing mix is a recognised prerequisite for success. In this article, we'll investigate the pivotal (if often still underestimated) role promotional products and corporate gifts can play in achieving the objectives of the overall strategy.


Firstly, let’s summarise the key elements of the accepted marketing mix. This is often referred to as ‘The Four Ps’ - product, price, promotion and place - although it would be easy to add 'people' as a fifth. 'The Four Ps' interaction with a wide range of promotional products can be a vital cog in the marketing wheel.


The starting point


When considering the initial product, often described as an item that satisfies either a desire or a simple need, it’s clear that this can be anything from a purely physical product to a thoroughly intangible service. Often, what is offered is an amalgam of the two. The key is to discover and deliver a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – one that highlights the benefits which make this item better than, or at least effectively different to, its competitors.


Of course, it also needs to create ownership and use a viable choice. When promoting this, key factors will include the brand message to be delivered, how this will be packaged, and how any associated services will be linked to it. Understanding this is also a valuable key to knowing how promotional products can play a valuable part in presenting the key messages.


Moving through the ‘Ps’


At this stage, the second ‘P’ – price – is already a key consideration in all work undertaken. For newly-introduced items, it might be that price will provide the trigger for vital first impressions. If you were to see two promotions for beds – one at $199 and the other at $999 – you would already be forming ideas about each product from that single piece of information. For more short-term promotions, price becomes a factor that can change such impressions – albeit only for the length of that promotion – while the actual view of the item itself can remain constant. Decisions will also be made as to whether the main aim at the time is to maximise simple profits, increase that profit margin, build revenue, decrease long-term costs – or a mix of these factors. Comparisons will also be made against perceived competitors, customer expectations, and how the strategy might change over a period of time.


Skipping the third 'P' for a moment, the final ‘P’ is placement and covers the channels and methods used to bring the product or service to the customer. This covers where it is purchased and the distribution channels used, often including intermediaries such as wholesalers and retailers, although less so as online becomes an ever-increasing purchasing environment. Distribution might be extensive for lower-price and impulse purchases, or selective for more exclusive offerings.


About promotion


With all these factors in place, ‘P’ for promotion is the area where decisions are made about the activities that will be used to communicate the USP. This will range from traditional channels such as press, radio and TV advertising, increasingly combined with online actions, such as SEO, and a wide range of social media interactions, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and many more.


The one factor most of these media actions have in common is their transience. This is fine when presenting changing messages and different offers. However, part of any successful promotional strategy is to add a measure of constancy to the message. This is where promotional products must be part of the marketing mix, and corporate gifts increase in significance.


From always used branded pens and highlighters, to regularly carried bags and constantly needed keyrings, promotional and corporate gifts provide a constant reminder of that business or organisation. When buying decisions are then made, guess who tends to come to the front of the buyer’s mind? More valuable corporate gifts help to remind the user of the value that the business has placed on its relationship with them.


Such promotional products can be used very thoughtfully. One hi-fi store chain in the UK kept a basketful of branded umbrellas by the door. On suddenly rainy days, customers were invited to borrow one and ‘just return it the next time you’re passing’. A repeat visit was thus assured!


Final thought


However you build your marketing plan through these four ‘Ps’, do remember that always being held, carried, or used by your customers is a superb way to keep – literally – ‘in touch’ with them!

Tags: Resources