Useless promotional items, or are they?

Emblazoning brand logos on various pens, jump drives, stress balls, etc. has long been a staple of the marketer’s handbook. I’m sure if you look around your desk right now, you’ll see a cup of pens with various logos, a couple of stress balls you picked up at a trade show, maybe a coffee cup with a vendor’s logo and various other tchotchkes that you’ve accumulated from vendors, clients and even your own company. These do serve as brand reminders, but, honestly, how often do you even take a second look at one of these items on your desk?

Smart marketers are now taking promo products to the next level by incorporating social media elements. Two examples on my desk right now are a stress ball in the shape of the duck and an inflatable dinosaur. I’m sure you guessed that the duck is from Aflac, after all, the Aflac duck is enshrined on the Advertising Walk of Fame, has its own Facebook page with more than 110,000 fans and has an online store for merchandise featuring the duck. But, even if you don’t have a highly recognizable brand, you can use creativity to develop something memorable.

The dinosaurs on my desk came from Bronto Software, the engine behind Direct Dialogue, c21’s award-winning e-mail marketing service. Bronto incorporates interactive media, including Twitter, Flickr and Facebook, with its promo products. The company invites anyone with one of its inflatable brontos to snap a pic and send it to them so they can add it to the “Traveling Bronto” feature on their Flickr page, and then link it to Facebook and Twitter. And yes, this tactic even works on other marketers – click here to see the c21 brontos on the Flickr page.

Successful marketing tactics require a combination of audience targeting and creativity to break through the clutter. Since everyone loves tchotchkes (whether they admit it or not), they are a great way to give current and potential clients a way to remember your brand. Taking the next step and using them as a conduit to encourage people to interact with your brand can be very effective in building brand evangelists.

If you think your company has an interesting tchotchke or you just want to share one of your personal favorites, just e-mail me and I’ll post it here and on our Facebook page.

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