Branding began in ancient Egypt when farmers needed a reliable way to identify their cows from those of their neighbors. Eventually, they decided that using a white-hot iron to permanently mark their cattle was the best approach. Soon thereafter, consumers began to realize that the cows that supplied the best milk and meat typically had the same marks. Thus, the concept of the premium brand was born and the farmers that took better care of their livestock were able to command higher prices.
What You Need to Know about Promotional Items
In today’s hyper-competitive hospitality industry, just having a premium brand is no longer the magic bullet. Marketing professionals must now learn to leverage the benefits of ‘effective frequency’ to fill their rooms. Effective Frequency relates to the number of times a consumer needs to be exposed to a brand before they act. Too few impressions and the message won’t ‘stick’. Too many results in waste. Based on extensive research, most researchers agree that the number is seven.
Achieving seven impressions with consumers isn’t easy. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by leveraging promotional products. According to a recent study from Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), 73% of consumers prefer promotional products over any other form of advertising including telemarking, emails and direct mail. The study also determined that 99% of consumers who receive promotional items keep them and over three quarters (79%) will pass along or sell a used promotional product instead of throwing it away. This effectively stretches the product lifecycle by exposing the brand message to new owners.
Choosing the right product can be tricky. Another study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) found that the average household in the U.S. owns close to 30 promotional products. This effectively means that out of 120 million households in America, there are over three billion promotional items being employed. The sad fact is that most of these items are tucked away in drawers and not getting lasting impressions.
The most effective way to ensure the effectiveness of a promotional item is by measuring its Cost Per Impression (CPI). The CPI is the cost associated with getting a single view of an item. For example, a $1.00 branded pen. Imagine a person receiving the pen at a trade show who then places it in a drawer only to be used once, then thrown away after the ink dries a year later. This would effectively mean the pen had a CPI of $1.00 (since there was only one impression). Take another scenario where the same person received a $1.00 phone wallet and used it for a month. If 1,000 people saw the item, the CPI would be $0.001 (one tenth of a cent) making that item significantly more desirable from a branding investment point of view.
The best promotional products are the ones that people will use and expose to other consumers. According to ASI, outerwear generates the most impressions (6,100) due to them being worn in public places. With the cost of a high-end Nike jacket decorated with a client logo hovering around $75, the CPI would be just $0.01. This makes it a bargain when compared to other forms of advertising such as Google Ads where the Cost per Click (CPC) can be as high as $2.00. Other items that deliver a notable number of impressions include hats (3,400), tote bags (3,300) and drinkware (1,400).
Hospitality marketers today face difficult decisions regarding where to spend their limited marketing budgets. By leveraging the law of effective frequency using desirable promotional products, they can effectively multiply the value of their investments. Not all promotional products speak to the same audiences, which is why working with a promotional product distributor that has experience in the hospitality market is key. The right supplier can suggest the best product fit for the desired audience with the lowest CPI.
About the Author
Nestor Villalobos is an entrepreneur, speaker and educator. As shareholder and managing partner in Sharp Marketing, a 30-year-old hospitality-focused promotional products manufacturer and distributor, Nestor regularly consults with hospitality’s leading brands including Marriott, Hard Rock and Norwegian Cruise Line. Nestor is also an adjunct professor at Florida International University where he teaches courses including Small Business Management, Entrepreneurship and International Business Negotiation. Nestor frequently speaks on topics ranging from corporate and personal branding, to venture capital and entrepreneurship.