Does Giving “Swag” to Clients and Prospects Work?

Promotional branded items such as pens and keychains are ubiquitous, but are they cost-effective for real estate agents? Mike Blaney of Limelight Marketing has answers that may surprise you

Limelight Marketing
October 3, 2014

Promotional keychain

Pens, keychains, notepads, business-card holders, USB sticks – the opportunities to stamp your brand on merchandise to give away as promotional items are endless. But does giving away “swag” really pay off?

There are essentially two kinds of swag used for marketing purposes. Useful or decorative items imprinted with the real estate agent’s name, logo or message that are distributed free are called promotional products. Imprinted items given as an incentive for a specific action are known as premiums.

But are they cost-effective? According to studies, absolutely yes.

An Advertising Specialties Impressions Study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute, among businesspeople over age 21, found that advertising specialty items beat out all forms of TV, radio and print advertising as the most cost-effective advertising medium available.

 Among the key findings, which absolutely apply to real estate agents too, were:

  • 84 per cent of people remember the advertiser on a product they receive;
  • 42 per cent have a more favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving an advertising specialty;
  • 24 per cent indicate that they are more likely to do business with an advertiser on items they receive; and
  • 62 per cent of respondents have done business with the advertiser on a product after receiving it.

The average cost-per-impression (that is, how many times a person sees your brand) of an advertising specialty item is $0.004, making it less expensive per impression than nearly any other medium.

According to research done by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), a not-for-profit association for the promotional products industry, 58 per cent of those responding to a survey said they kept promotional products from one year to over four years.  Even if the recipient uses the item only once per week, that’s a minimum of 52 impressions made over the course of a year with the possibility of more than 208 during a five-year window.

The same study indicates recipients of promotional products have a significantly positive opinion of a business through:

  • increase in positive overall image;
  • more positive perception of the business;
  • higher likelihood of recommending the business; and
  • higher likelihood of patronizing the business.

But Do They Work for Real Estate Agents?

Again, the answer is yes. People who receive promotional products are more likely to remember the name of a real estate agent compared to other advertising media like magazines, television and newspapers. Promotional products that actually add value to a customer’s life in some way would likely be far more effective than annoying gimmicks customers ignore or cheap stuff they end up throwing out.

So what qualifies as useful?

It should improve their lives in some small way.

It has to be affordable so you can give it out to clients and prospects.

It should be personalized with your real estate info so you come to mind when they are thinking real estate.

Ideas for Promotional Items

Two seasonal giveaways I recommend are a branded tissue box sleeve and a branded pocket hand sanitizer sprayer. The tissue box sleeve slides over a store-bought square issue box, and it will sit somewhere for weeks or months. The cost per sleeve is about $3.50. The branded hand sanitizer is about $2.00 and lasts for 50 sprays.  Both of these show you care about the recipient and I think they create a stronger bond.

Other ideas include:

  • jar openers;
  • keychains or items that fit on keychains, such as safety whistles or grocery cart tokens;
  • credit card protector;
  • calendars in various sizes, from wall and desk calendars, to pocket planners and magnetic calendars in the shape of a house;
  • fridge magnets with calendars or clips to hold notes;
  • branded fly swatter;
  • tape measure in the shape of a house;
  • smartphone stand for their desk.

If you plan to use promotional items, consider the following:

  • How often do clients purchase your product or service?
  • What season of the year is it?
  • Will it be left at the office or taken home?
  • Is it a novelty item or useful item of value?
  • What is the potential return on investment?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • What have you received that made an impact on you?
  • What will the cost of distribution be?
  • How long will it last?
  • Does it look like you are trying to buy their business?

And the most important question for any marketing strategy – can you measure its effectiveness?

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