In an era when everyone has an opinion and the idea of a universal truth seems more distant than every before, the physical reality of a promotional product is a proven way to make a statement about your brand and build relationships with clients. For small businesses, promotional merchandise offers an opportunity to create a personal connection with clients.

Watch the news these days and you’ll see many versions of the “truth”. And it’s not just in the worlds of politics and current affairs that people find it difficult to know what to believe. In the new business digital world consumers also find it more difficult than ever to work out what is true. Now with everyone pointing the finger and screaming “fake news” everyone is confused. So how in this era of uncertainty can marketers reduce the general level of cynicism about marketing offers made online?

Investing a proportion of your budget in branded merchandise is a proven way to sidestep this confusion. When holding something real in your hand it’s impossible not to reach a subjective opinion of its practical value or make an emotional judgement about its impact. These impressions, both good and bad combine naturally to form an overall attitude towards the brand the product carries. Unlike other forms of business communication which rely on emotive impact to manipulate and control perceptions, branded merchandise creates a direct connection with consumers and allows you to reduce the rising cynicism amongst consumers in these days of “fake news”.

Managing consumer perceptions of your brand is what promotional marketing is all about. World wide billions of dollars are spent every day on advertising messages but the final results can never be trusted to work out as planned. Research has proven that promotional products marketing, when overlaid against more traditional forms of brand promotion has the potential to reinforce positive perceptions, particularly in this day of digital communication when few people who do business meet face-to-face. Adding your logo to something as simple as printed water bottles or pens and giving them to people with whom you do business is a way of escaping the negative filters which drive so much of today’s public discourse. Ask yourself, can an attractive, good quality product with practical value create a negative impression with the person using it? 

A common approach to successfully overcoming consumer cynicism is the way in which companies use branded merchandise to reinforce claims of “eco-friendliness”. Many companies claim a clean, green reputation but again, in this day and age there is a great deal of doubt about such claims in the marketplace. The simple expedient of actually offering business contacts and consumers a gift which both reflects brand values and is made from recycled materials is more convincing that any number of nebulous claims made in advertising. The reality of promotional merchandise cannot be denied and people cannot reaching their own conclusions based on experience. In a marketing world where bluster and misinformation is the norm the simple expedience of placing a branded item in the hands of consumers creates an impression no amount electronic can replace.

These days the temptation exists for all marketers to spend their budgets online. Online advertising is easy to manage,simple to analyse and can be scaled up or down in minutes. But at the same time, keeping a foot in the “real” world is a proven way to leverage your online exposure. As we spend less time engaging with each other and more time engaging with a screen the timeless gesture of offering your clients and business prospects a thoughtful branded gift is a more powerful way to build and maintain relationships than it’s ever been.