Are Promotional Gifts Relevant In The Digital Era?

by Peter Sanders

The role and nature of interactions between brands and their customers have interested marketers for decades, with interactions affecting customer attitudes and purchasing intent. But over the past decade due to the rise of social media and other digital channels the way companies interact with their customers has changed radically.

Using the internet, social media, mobile apps, and other digital communications technologies have become an essential part of people’s lives across the world. They are exposing themselves to more and more digital and social media. This is for many purposes, including in their roles as consumers as they search for information about goods and services, purchase and consume them and communicate with others about their experiences. In the online market place consumer purchase decisions are influenced by many sources of information such as search results, customer reviews, social media conversations and company websites. There is a big temptation to allocate a large proportion of your marketing budget to interactive channels, you can reach large numbers of people, there is increasingly sophisticated targeting and re-marketing opportunities and such campaigns can be measured and quantified allowing businesses to hone their marketing to strategy and target the best prospects. Such measurement and the real-time nature of the data allow for valuable insights that have historically not been available.

Digital marketing creates opportunities to develop successful businesses in a way that was not possible for small companies, and is becoming an increasingly important source of competitive advantage in both business to business and business to consumer markets. With the increasing importance of digital marketing, where does this leave traditional marketing activities such as promotional mugs and other promotional gifts? Many promotional gift companies argue that social media and other digital marketing mediums are not as personal. However, the web has made one to one marketing eminently possible, organisations can tailor their marketing messages to individuals.

Such analysis does not bode well for promotional gifts. Are promotional gifts becoming obsolete? Does this mean the end of promotional gifts? The internet age has led to a more competitive business environment, offering a great product and exemplary customer service does not always ensure success. Companies need to find ways that differentiate themselves from the competition. One of the best ways to do this is to build customer loyalty by developing relationships with your customers. Many companies are investing in their social media presence as they appreciate the need to engage in social media conversations to protect their brand reputation, increase customer engagement and help drive sales. Brand impressions are vitally important in today’s digital era. Modern consumers depend on the opinions of others when making purchasing decisions. Online reviews have turned into a valuable information source that affects consumer choices.

How can a company increase brand loyalty in today’s digital era? Does “liking” a brand on Facebook cause a person to view that brand more favourably to others? Recent research shows that consumers are often willing to like brands on social media, thus as a means to gain consumer attention -however briefly - likes are effective. Turning that attention into improved brand attitudes and increased purchases by consumers, however, appears to require more than just a click or a swipe of a screen.

The cornerstone of a holistic marketing approach is strong customer relationships. Marketers must win customers by connecting – listening and responding to them, informing and engaging with them and maybe even energising them in the process. This means marketers need to truly understand their customers and what influences their decision making. One way to influence customers is through environmental stimuli, to enter the consumers consciousness and set of a psychological process which will aid them in the decision and purchasing process. The five key psychological processes that fundamentally influence consumers are : Motivation, Perception, Learning, Emotions, Memory.

This is where promotional gifts have an advantage over digital marketing. Such promotional products allow company brands to enter the consciousness of consumers. Consumers are increasingly learning to ignore most forms of advertising, and the unique ability to touch, feel and actually use a physical item allows a company to be at the forefront of a consumer’s mind serving as a constant reminder.

Also, promotional gifts can link with digital marketing strategies, which can help measure the success of the campaign. For instance, on a branded mug a QR code can be incorporated into the design, or encouraging the recipient to engage with the company through online channels.

At Prince William Pottery, we do not see promotional and branded mugs as a marketing strategy of a bygone era but as key way to connect with customers and are ideal products to integrate both traditional and digital marketing strategies.

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