The value of branded merchandise to your tire business

Branded merchandise is a great way to promote your business. | © Millar S Point Tire and Auto Service

The value of branded merchandise to your tire business

Branded merchandise is big business. In the U.S. it’s a $17 billion industry, used by almost all businesses, and promotional products are found in nearly every home. Done right, offering free promotional merchandise to your customers can be more effective than other traditional forms of marketing and advertising, and you’ll make your customers happy at the same time. Here’s what you need to know about how branded merchandise can help your business.

Your customers will thank you

First of all, people love getting things for free, no matter what they are. According to one report, 83 percent of us like receiving promotional products. Industry reports show that before receiving a promotional product, 55 percent of people had done business with the advertiser and after receiving it, 85 percent of people took their business there. You’re making the customer happy just by giving them a small gift — and they’ll remember that.

You’re getting your message out there

People remember branded merchandise much more easily than other forms of advertising. Promotional products achieve a recall rate of somewhere between 15 and 50 percent higher than TV, print and online adverts — meaning people remember your brand, logo and the service you offer in far greater numbers. Industry experts say 88 percent of people remember the advertiser on their free product and adding a promotional product to your advertising/marketing mix almost doubles the effectiveness of your other media.

Not only that, but people are more likely to hand a freebie on to another person if they don’t need it themselves rather than throw it out. So instantly you have doubled your exposure. Branded products also last much, much longer. More than half of people who have promotional products say they use them weekly, 47 percent keep them for more than a year and, overwhelmingly, the products are kept in spaces where they will be seen and used the most ¬— 91 percent of people keep branded merchandise in their kitchens and 74 percent in their workspaces. If someone is using a product with your company’s branding on it daily, weekly or even once a month for a year or two, you are getting lots of bang (and reinforcement of your message) for your buck.

What products work the best?

Keep in mind that although people like free branded products, 85 percent of people have received 21 or more promo products in the last 12 months. So it’s really important that yours stands out. While some items are cheap to produce on a large scale, such as buttons, keyrings and pens, it’s merchandise that is useful to the customer that gets the best results. They will be used more often, be kept for longer and remind the customer that your company is helpful, thinks about what people want and is generous in its giveaways.

More than three-quarters of consumers say a promotional product’s usefulness is the number one reason to keep it, and 69 percent of consumers would pick up a promotional product if they deemed it useful.

Tote bags, caps and coffee mugs have always been a good and reliable go-to product if you are looking at use, value and longevity. But if you’re after something that will stand out more, technology freebies such as portable phone chargers and USB sticks have proven to be incredibly successful marketing tools.

Ben Millar of Millar’s Point S Tire & Auto Service is a pro at giving away branded merchandising at the community and sporting events and local fairs his family’s company has supported for decades. His advice is not to go for the obvious and cheapest products to give to your customers.

“We’ve always got giveaways at the events we attend,” Millar said. “Everybody likes to get something for free — it’s that feel-good moment — but you don’t want to give them something they are going to throw in their junk drawer and never look at it again.

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Millar’s Point S Tire and Auto Service at a community event

“I’m not a fan of the key chains — you get hundreds of them and you put them away and forget about them. Or you get a pencil or a pen and you use it once and then you lose it.”

Millar’s Point S prides itself on innovative branded giveaways: recent products include a screwdriver with a built-in flashlight and level and a tape measure with a built-in notepad and pencil.

They give away fun freebies for kids too — like Millar’s branded children’s sunglasses on sunny days or mini footballs. These and hats and t-shirts for the adults are all extremely popular and show Millar’s knows their customers and their community.

“It’s good stuff,” Millar said. “I have (the screwdriver) in my house and I use it all the time. People like getting something worthwhile. They’ll grab something and if it’s something they want, they’ll bring somebody else back, saying ‘hey they’ve got these cool tape measures or screwdrivers down there,’ And then you get a chance to talk to them, they know about who you are and hopefully they’ll remember they got something cool from us and come back again.”

It doesn’t have to be expensive either — most of Millar’s Point S giveaways are between $2 and $5 apiece. But every item makes an impact.

Make it count

To maximize the effect of giving away branded merchandise, you need to consider how and when you do it. There’s little point in sending freebies to existing loyal clients or having the items sitting on the counter in your store. You need to be strategic and give them more impact; it needs to lead to more communication with your customers, both current and potential.

Consider handing out merchandise to people at community events where you have a stall or as a thank you when a customer has purchased a particular product or service.

Keep up with trends too. In 2015 selfie sticks, reusable water bottles and tech gadgets were some of the most popular giveaways with consumers. Be creative with your strategy, too. Recently Traction News suggested cashing in on trends like Pokémon Go and turning tire stores into Pokéstops and giving players free, branded phone chargers.

With a little bit of imagination and thinking about what you would use and be happy getting for free, you can boost your advertising with relatively little cost just by making your customers happy.

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