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The Business Odyssey Chronicle, Issue #017 -- Using ad specialties. "Inc. Yourself"
October 23, 2003

October 15, 2003 Issue #17


  • MARKETING: Ad specialties - trash or treasure?
  • Register now for Power Marketing
  • REVIEW: Inc. Yourself - How to Profit by Setting up Your Own Corporation
  • Write to us / pass it along / article reprints

MARKETING: Ad specialties - trash or treasure?

Every one of us has at least a few of these items in our offices and our homes. That is just the point - they’re not just pervasive, they’re part of our everyday lives. You know, those calendars, t-shirts, pens, refrigerator magnets and other paraphernalia that are imprinted with the name and logo of the business who gave out those things.

In the course of planning marketing campaigns, clients often ask if “ad specialities” or promotional products actually work. Do they help increase sales, promote repeat business, foster good will? According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the answer is “yes” and they have the research to back that up. They cite studies showing that -

  • 39 percent of the people receiving a promotional product could recall the name of the advertiser as long as six months after they received it according to a study by Schreiber & Associates (Peoria, IL).
  • selective distribution of promotional products outpulled school newspaper advertising by two-to-one in a Southern Methodist University a study to measure attendee awareness of product demonstrations in three university communities.
  • promotional products used in direct mail solicitations were found to boost response rates by up to 75 percent, in a study by Baylor University.
  • customers reorder faster and more often when promotional products are used instead of coupons in a study by Southern Methodist University.
  • periodic distribution of promotional products in sales contests in retail establishments were cost-effective and outperformed non-stimulated contests by up to 50 percent in a Baylor University study of month-long sales contests
Of course, as in any good marketing program, good planning and preparation will determine if those ad specialties become fodder for your prospects’ trash bins or treasure for your sales revenue. According to a web site sponsored by PPAI, , setting goals, knowing what your customers want, establishing a theme, selecting appropriate items and distributing them in a way that will support your goals are key elements in planning a successful campaign.

Goals. Set your goal first. Be creative. Some possibilities include:

  • generating new customers or new accounts
  • promotion of brand awareness and brand loyalty
  • new product or service introduction
  • incentives for marketing research for survey and focus group participants
  • increase traffic at a trade show booth
  • generate repeat business
  • incentives for getting referrals
  • improving response rates for promotional mailings
  • nonprofit fundraising
  • public awareness campaigns
  • employee incentive programs

Know your customers. This is basic to any marketing program. You should have a good description of your customer already. (See Issue#4, January 2003 of the Business Odyssey Chronicle for more on this subject.) If your goal is to inspire your sales team to better performance, be sure that you know what they want.

Theme. Creating a theme will unify your campaign and help guide your selection of the advertising premiums and promotional products. Your theme might include color, a slogan, an ad message and even a logo that is particularly for the campaign. You can tie your theme to a holiday, a special event, a famous person, a season, a sport - any number of things. Be creative. Each element reinforces the other to strengthen the message in the minds of your prospects.

Select an item. Select items that your prospects and customers will like (not necessarily what you will like), that support your theme, and that are related to your profession or business. Consider quality as well as price. To be most effective, items should be an integral part of a well-planned, cohesive program and be something that your prospects value.

Distribution. When and how you distribute items are as important as other elements of your campaign. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan can significantly increase the effectiveness of promotional products. For example, a pre-show mailing to a select audience delivers more trade show traffic and qualified leads than simply distributing items to people at the show.

If you are planning a promotion and considering using an ad specialty, a visit to is well worth your while. It will give you more information on planning a campaign as well as additional detail on the research demonstrating its effectiveness. You will also find lots of ideas for using ad specialties for achieving your business goals, interesting themes for you campaigns, the history of how this business started, and a tool for finding certified distributors of ad specialty products.

Register now for Power Marketing

Sign up now for Power Marketing for Smaller Businesses starting November 18 at Polaris Career Center. This is a great way to learn the basics of marketing fast. The class covers everything from setting realistic goals to clinching the sale. We explain all of the most important tools in the marketing arsenal and how to use them to increase sales.

If you have been thinking about taking this class, sign up today. If we do not have enough people enroled in a course, it will have to be cancelled so early registration is important.

For complete description and registration information, visit

REVIEW: Inc. Yourself - How to Profit by Setting up Your Own Corporation

One of the questions I’m most often asked by people starting their own business is “Should I incorporate?” Most seem to expect a “yes or no” answer. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this particular question.

The wise entrepreneur should not take any one individual’s quick answer to that question - whether they are their accountant, their lawyer or their teacher. Only the entrepreneur can make a fully informed decision about this issue after gathering information from a variety of sources and after making some important decisions about how they want to operate their business.

Inc. Yourself does an excellent job of guiding you through all of the things that need to be considered in making the important decision about what legal form your business should take. It explains the impact of incorporating on issues such as planning, insurance, profits, retirement, financing, and taxes.

Inc. Yourself explains S and C corporations and LLCs and their advantages and disadvantages. Extensive appendixes provide information on incorporating in all 50 states as well as other useful resources.

First published over 25 years ago, the book is now in its tenth edition which is a testimony to its clarity and completeness. Whether you plan to “do-it-yourself” or hire an attorney for this important job, Inc. Yourself will allow you to go into the process much better informed.

This book is readily available at most public libraries and book stores. You can get it at a discount from Amazon. Here is a direct link:

Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

If you have questions, comments or an idea for an article you would like to see in The Chronicle, please drop us a line at

Please pass this newsletter along to anyone you think might find it of interest. If you do, be sure to forward it in its entirety and include the copyright notice.

To use an article in your own publication, just send me an e-mail telling me which article you want to use. I will e-mail you the complete article with an information block which MUST be included.

Copyright 2003 Kathleen Thompson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Business Odyssey

Cleveland, Ohio


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