“Giveaways” — the pencils, pens, buttons, calendars and refrigerator magnets you see everyday — are called “Specialty Advertising” in the advertising business.
Chances are, you have some specialty advertising items right at your desk. Businesses imprint their name on items and give them away (or sometimes sell them at very low cost) in order that:
You notice their name enough times on the item to build “top-of-the-mind” awareness. So when you need a restaurant, for instance, you think of their name first.
You appreciate the goodwill of the company giving you the item and eventually return the favor by giving them some business.
These are both long-term advertising investments that can take months or years to turn into actual sales.
First, select the best item that would tell your story most effectively. While an accountant can give away an inexpensive calculator, the same item may not be ideal for a hairdresser. A comb or brush might be more appropriate in that case.
Second, decide what you are going to say on the item. A company slogan? Address directions? Since you have a relatively small area, you must be very concise and direct.
Third, figure out your method of distribution. Are you going to send them to each customer through the mail? If so, how much will that cost? Will you have them in a big bowl that says “take one”? Distribution is just as important to consider as buying the item.
Just as there are many reputable specialty advertising professionals in your area, the industry is notorious with a lot of high-pressure telephone and mail solicitors who often give specialty advertising a bad name. Don’t buy specialty advertising through the mail without checking the quality and prices with trusted local representatives first. And, buying specialty advertising over the telephone is not recommended at all.
Specialty advertising is a unique way to generate goodwill and put your name on items that people remember. But don’t do it unless you have an item and distribution plan that will benefit your business.