Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Promotional gifts that stir emotions

Christmas time is a time for gifts - enormous amounts of money will get spent on presents for loved ones this Christmas.

But all year round marketers use thoughtful promotional items to enhance their marketing. A recent study by the Institute of Promotional Marketing measured people’s responses promotional gifts. They found a high emotional reaction to well-pitched promotional items: a reaction normally associated with pornographic images, in fact. This has been backed up by other studies. Whilst the pornographic bit grabs headlines, that's not really the point. The point is that they stir positive emotions in us.

This is interesting. In business, just like at children round a Christmas tree, we love getting gifts. And if it’s something useful/pretty/nicely packaged, we respond very positively to it. And we remember the positive feelings associated with the promotional gift.

This is extremely important for marketers. If you are going to give something away, make sure it gets the response you want from the person who receives it – whether that be loyalty, remembering your company or buying your product or service.

Recently I was on the receiving end of two promotions that were giving away £20. Both companies had worked out what it was worth to get my custom, and were offering £20.

In the first case, the offer was made in a letter that had clearly been sent to a large list of people. As it turned out their computer systems weren’t good enough to recognise when I responded, and I had to argue with them to get the money. No warm feelings there. But it still cost them £20.

In the second case the £20 came packaged as a beautifully branded plastic card. It was enclosed in a laminated card folder with “We appreciate you custom – here’s a gift” printed on it. It was beautifully produced and a joy to open. It will be a joy to spend too. This company perhaps spent a little more than £20 but gets wave after wave of warm feelings from their promotion.

In a world that is increasingly digital, it is a useful reminder that people still respond to physical gifts; whether they may be a voucher, certificate or package with a well-chosen item inside. We may be older than when we first hung up a stocking for Santa, but it seems our emotions are still the same.

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