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Free Book: How to Use Business Signs As an Effective Marketing Tool

 

How to Use Business Signs As an Effective Marketing Tool

A Step by Step Guide

How to Use Business Signs As an Effective Marketing ToolThis guide will walk you step by step through all the essential phases of using specialty advertising effectively.

For years business owners have been putting their names and logos on such things as calendars, notepads, ball-point pens and keytags and giving them to customers and prospects. Not intended simply as an act of business generosity, this is advertising specialty advertising to be exact. The problem is that many small business owners don't know the fine points of this form of advertising and don't maximize the advantages it offers. This guide explains why specialty advertising works and provides illustrations of how small business firms have applied this targeted medium to specific promotional objectives achieving some remarkable results.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Why Specialty Advertising Works
3. Elements of a Promotion
4. Typical Promotion Applications

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Sample Content

For years business owners have been putting their names and logos on such things as calendars, notepads, ball-point pens and keytags and giving them to customers and prospects. Not intended simply as an act of business generosity, this is advertising­ specialty advertising to be exact. The problem is that many small business owners don't know the fine points of this form of advertising and don't maximize the advantages it offers. This guide explains why specialty advertising works and provides illustrations of how small business firms have applied this targeted medium to specific promotional objectives achieving some remarkable results.

An industrial film studio once ran an ad headlined: It's more important to reach the people who count than to count the people you reach. That is a handy maxim for business owners to keep in mind when they plan their advertising, because money spent on reaching the people who don't count-non-prospects-is money wasted.
This fact is acknowledged by your life insurance agent who gives you a calendar each year or by your bank that gives you a ball-point pen with the bank name on it. As a policyholder and as a depositor, you count with these businesses, and they give you these promotional items-properly called advertising specialties-to let you know it.
The fact these items are given away shouldn't be misinterpreted as purely an act of business charity. There is a reason for presenting specialty advertising gifts. When used properly, specialty advertising can be one of the most effective means of promoting a small business. The trick is to use it properly. But first business owners must understand what it is and what it can and cannot do for their companies.

Why Specialty Advertising Works
Advertising specialties are defined as useful articles of merchandise that are imprinted with an advertisement and are given to customers and potential customers without any strings attached. Unlike premiums, they are not earned or awarded in exchange for a purchase. Sometimes the ad on these specialties is no more than the name or logo of the sponsor. Everyday one comes across cigarette lighters, ashtrays, paperweights, ball-point pens and T-shirts that meet this description. These are just a few of the estimated 15,000 different types of merchandising items that are used in the medium called specialty advertising.
All advertising media offer users specific advantages-and all media have their limitations. You must be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the various media in order to make the right choices for your business.
Let's look at some of the advantages offered by specialty advertising.

Unlike newspapers and television, which are mass media, specialty advertising is one of the targeted media. Newspapers and television are fine when you want to deliver your message to the most people you can possibly reach. But in this mass audience are many people who are not interested in what you have to sell. Consequently, you must also look for promotional efficiency. This is provided by the targeted media-direct mail, trade press and specialty advertising-because they can deliver your message only to prospects, thereby saving you the expense of buying non-productive circulation.
Notice that specialty advertising products are defined as useful articles of merchandise. Because they are useful, at least to varying degrees, they are kept and used by recipients. Each time the items are referred to, the advertiser's name and message get exposure. The recipient doesn't always consciously note the ad, of course, but the message is entered into the individual's memory and can be recalled at the appropriate time.

Advertising recall is important, but so often advertisers don't achieve this sought-after benefit from the media they use. What good does it do when the TV viewer chuckles over a clever commercial but can't remember the name of the sponsor?
When it comes to ad budgets, small businesses obviously cannot compete with corporate giants. Budget limitations severely restrict the small entrepreneur's use of some of the costlier mass media. Fortunately, specialty advertising comes in a lot of price ranges. There are, remember, 15,000 different types of specialties, some costing several dollars and some only a few cents apiece. So there are specialties available to any advertiser, regardless of how small the budget.
How consumers react to your advertising is important. If they are offended or indifferent to it, you have not gained from your promotional investment. Specialty advertising, however, carries with it an ingratiation factor. People like to get something for nothing, regardless of how inexpensive the item may be. They tend to look favorably on companies giving them free specialties. There is statistical evidence that people prefer to patronize businesses giving specialties as opposed to those that do not, all things being equal.
Another unique attribute of specialty advertising is that it permits advertisers to personalize the message. Suppose out of all your customers and prospects there are a hundred or so key ones you want to concentrate on. Because you probably can identify them by name, you can give added value to the advertising item you send them by imprinting their name on it. The favorable reaction to this kind of message enhancement can never be overstated.
As you can see, there are several advantages offered by specialty advertising, some of which cannot be found in other media. Specialties also have some limitations. One has to do with the amount of copy space available. On a ball-point pen, for example, there usually isn't enough space to imprint more than the advertiser's name and address. To overcome this deficiency, advertisers often distribute a printed companion piece with the specialty, and this flyer or brochure contains the reasons to purchase.
Another liability is the comparatively long production and delivery time sometimes required to implement a specialty advertising promotion. Even stock items ordered right out of a manufacturer's catalog sometimes take four to eight weeks for delivery. Consequently, the business owner who plans to hold a clearance sale the following week may find his or her purpose better served by using newspaper ads and TV or radio spots.
Another drawback worth mentioning is the difficulty one finds in measuring the results of many specialty promotions. Of course, this is a problem with other media, too. Unless a method of evaluation is built into the specialty promotion, the business owner may have no evidence the promotion is doing him or her any good. Indeed, some types of promotions offer no practical means of measuring their effectiveness. This doesn't mean the promotion shouldn't be undertaken. A simple promotion to achieve goodwill for the business owner may do just that, but it is difficult to weigh that goodwill and translate it into sales.

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