Crappy Marketing Ideas

A lot of so-called “advertising” blogs will tell you exactly how to have a killer marketing strategy that is sure to put your brand on the map with a rockin’ promotional product. They’ll toss out all these crazy numbers and demographics and blah blah blah. And there’s certainly a need for that kind of writing.

However, I am not a cute little ray of sunshine. I’m more like the grumpy rain cloud. But what the little rays of sunshine won’t tell you that this rain cloud will is how NOT to market. The “do”s are hit or miss, but the “do not”s are pretty universally accepted as sucky ways to waste your money. Say what you want about the little storm cloud, but at least she’s giving you fair warning.

1) Out of the Box, Into the Fire

Picking a bizarre marketing strategy just for the sake of being “out of the box” is just as dumb as doing something for tradition’s sake. Imagine you pick up a personalized yo-yo that says “Think Weasel Fruit” on the side. Nothing else. No contact information, no mascot, just three words. Most people would probably play with the yo-yo and never have any idea that your business of artificially inseminating non-domesticated wildlife has imprinted that cool product.

If Weasel Fruit isn’t the name of the business, there’s no way for the end user to make the connection back to you. If Weasel Fruit IS the name of the business, there’s no contact information, so you’ve given your potential client a gift with the added burden of having to search for you and figure out what you’re all about. Piquing a client’s interest in a good thing; giving them a research project is not.

2) TMI

Marketing strategies at the other end of the spectrum, providing way too much information, is also a pretty solid way to shoot yourself in the foot. A lot of QLP’s promotional products offer especially large areas for imprint. Custom apparel can give you the front and back of t-shirts while imprinted totes offer huge areas as well. Some companies confuse a promotional product with a formalized sales pitch or a brochure. They try to cram every single thing they possibly can, sacrificing style and readability with the hope that something in that mess with catch a customer’s eye.

Although we would love to think that satisfied customers live to spread the word about our amazing service, the bottom line is that even the most enthusiastic client isn’t getting paid to do your leg work. By exercising some kind of restraint when deciding what belongs in the imprint, you can increase the appeal of the item itself. And when the client likes the item, she carries it with her more often. And when she carries it with her more often, more people are exposed to it. Customers are already paying you, so don’t scare them away with a highly saturated, off-putting item that makes it seem like their only value to you is to recruit others.

Just like with the services and products you provide through your own business, satisfaction with the end product is the most effective way to increase consumer confidence and ensure repeated business.

3) And Now For Something Completely Different

Many people choose promotional products that are practical and therefore more likely to be used by a potential client. However, the type of product you choose is the most effective when it’s relevant to the product or service you’re providing.

Putting the logo for a cat grooming service on a custom toothbrush will certainly get your company name noticed at least twice a day (we hope, otherwise, that’s gross), but is that really the best way for you to get your name associated with your client’s needs? Anyone will pick up a free toothbrush; do you want to waste marketing dollars on someone that might not even have a cat? Although this product has that universal utility that appeals to a wide demographic, it may not necessarily be the most efficient way to promote.

Spas love to imprint adult-sized flip flops. Why? Because it makes sense that when a woman does to slip her feet into those sandals and sees her cracked toenails, it’s to the spa’s advantage to have their name and phone number right there. The service provided is associated with the promotional product that’s distributed, making the connection for the customer.

Of course, none of these are hard and fast rules. Maybe Weasel Fruit yoyos are the way to boost sales. But the bottom line is that the purpose of a promotional product is to get a client to say, “This is cool. I’ll hang onto this,” and then continue to be exposed with your brand, so that when they see that same logo elsewhere or have a need for your services, they’re already familiar.

Thoughts? Have you tried any of these things and found amazing success? Crushing failure? Let me know.

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!


Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.

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