When you settle down to read this blog just take a quick glance at your desk.

The likelihood is there’s going to be a branded pen, a personalised mouse mat, or maybe even a corporate mug (or if you’re lucky a promotional nail file). They might have your branding on them, but more than likely the branding will belong to another company.  Now just think how many times you see that item every day.

As a busy marketer/business owner you probably manage to find a few nanoseconds in your diary at some point of the year to think about how you’ll raise the profile of your business.  You may even have created a marketing plan covering that very point.  All that time you probably sat at the very same desk and looked at all of those branded items from other companies on numerous occasions.

You might have even considered getting your own company’s logo branded on a few items.

Most companies get to this point and get stage fright. It is difficult to imagine just what promotional merchandise you can use, and the ‘standard’ items (pens, pads, mouse mats) just don’t always seem to be right.

Promotional merchandise is such a vast area and sometimes there’s too much choice.  It’s difficult to know where to focus your budgets, and there’s always the same nagging question in your mind… is it really necessary when I can spend it on so many other things?

The short answer is YES! You just need to think carefully and get the right merchandise to match your target market.  There is no point in getting branded trolley coins if you are targeting teenagers or silicone wristbands if you are targeting an older market.

Promotional merchandise can form a key part of any promotional campaign.  In fact clever use of merchandise can be more effective than some more traditional methods of marketing.  But clever use of merchandise, integrated with other marketing methods, can produce spectacular results.

Is it really necessary, when I can spend on other advertising?

One of the most significant findings of a recent BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) survey is that promotional merchandise can deliver a higher return on investment (ROI) than radio and outdoor advertising and a ROI that is equal to TV and print advertising.

The survey found that 79% of respondents said they were likely to do business with the company in the future, with 8 out of 10 (84 per cent) respondents stating that a branded promotional gift increased brand awareness.

What to choose?

Get creative! The items with the biggest impact are those that fit with the brand and especially a specific campaign. Why settle for a pad or pen when there could be a more effective method of delivering your message.

For example; these bespoke USB’s are fantastic, as they will be used time and time again –and provide a big talking point due to their uniqueness. Who wouldn’t love to receive a USB beer keg?!

The gift of giving

People love to receive gifts, especially when they aren’t expecting it.

Try to think of items that you would genuinely like to receive on your desk. If you would like it, odds are that someone else would. Obviously consider your target market and/or the campaign you are conducting, but make it something you’d be happy to be given.  Find something that matches the brand, the campaign and something you’d love to receive and you’re onto a winner.

Finally as we are lovely people – anyone who comments on or tweets us (@Lovetobrand) about this blog, will receive a little gift from us – something that you will LOVE to receive and put on your desk!

Danielle Crowther is a director at Love to Brand Ltd. For information, email Danielle@love.tobrand.co.uk or log on to www.love.tobrand.co.uk.