There’s no doubt that branded merchandise can be a great way to promote your business. But if you’re not careful, it can also be a great way to burn through your budget!
Here are some tips on how to create a range of branded merchandise that will fit your budget and make an impact.
1. Think about what your goals are
Do you want to use promotional products to generate brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website or social media pages? Or, increase sales of a particular product or service? Having a clear marketing objective will help inform the type of merchandise you end up choosing and also ensure that you don’t overspend on that rookie error – Random Acts of Merchandise.
2. Consider your target audience
Who are you trying to reach with your promotional products? What type of product would they actually use and appreciate? The merchandise you choose might look very different depending on the recipient – Is it intended for new employees? VIP clients? Potential customers? One of the benefits of creating a range of merchandise is that your customers/clients/prospects can choose which product will best suit them. At Inck, we love helping our clients pick out the perfect giveaway, welcome gift pack or creative high-end gift that absolutely nails the brief.
3. Set a budget
When scoping out a budget you need to calculate 3 main things – quantity, target price and how many different types of products you want. We get it, most people hate budgeting but this should not take more than a few minutes. We find that a good way to start when people say “we don’t have a budget” is to say – ‘let’s start with $1m then..?’ ‘Or $1 per item?’ If it’s less than $1m and more than $1, is it closer to $5000? Or $20,000 or $50,000 etc. Your budget for different campaigns might look very different depending on your goals and required outcome.
4.Think about your target price
So, let’s say you’ve thought about your target audience, and you realize that the product should be ‘high quality’ or have a high perceived value. How does that equate to a target price? Take a bag, for example. A good quality backpack retails for around $75 – do you have that to spend? Probably not – so how much could you afford for a backpack? Actually, how much does a backpack cost? That’s probably when you jump back online and take a look at different options (and start seeing the exact same products from similar looking websites?!) You may then feel like you’re going around in circles but persevere because you have made progress by realizing that maybe you can’t afford a “quality backpack”, but this doesn’t mean that a bag can’t be an option. Maybe instead you can consider a great quality tote bag. This is when working with a good supplier is helpful as they can offer you a selection of tote bags (that fit your target price) or offer other high perceived value products you might not have thought of.
5. Work out your quantities
Quantity is extremely important when it comes to sourcing promo products. So much depends on this info that thinking about the likely order quantity upfront will save you and your supplier a lot of time. Once you have a target price and an idea of how many products you’re after, multiply this by the quantity and hey presto – you have your budget! For example, let’s say you want to put together a welcome pack for new starters. You think it could include around 5 different products with an average price point of $10 (wow – I didn’t realize how expensive Frank Green coffee cups are!) and you estimate that around 200 new starters will join in the next year – that means a budget of $10,000 ($50 x 200). Pretty straightforward huh?! And, if that budget sounds too steep, you can always ask your supplier to offer a more budget-friendly alternative.
6. Think about branding
The ‘branded’ part of branded merchandise can be a key cost driver. This is where the expertise of your promo supplier comes in, as there are a huge range of branding techniques available and they all cost different amounts. As a starting point you need to think about 2 key things – How many colours do you want (a great way to save is to go with a single colour logo if this suits your requirements) and how many logo’s you require? The branding (or “decoration”) part always involves set-up costs so the more logos or “positions” the more expensive it will be. The best way to kick off is to send us your brand guidelines and let us review them. Chatting to your stakeholders, marketing or design team upfront is important and will save you time. Take the humble T-shirt which can be as low as $5 for a single colour, single position print or over $30 with multiple prints (front, back, sleeves, label etc). If your initial quote from your supplier comes in too high, ask if they can recommend alternate branding techniques that might lower the cost per item.
5. Think about practicality
A keychain or USB stick may be inexpensive, but will your target audience actually use them? A recent ASI Study reported that 80% of promotional products are kept based on their usefulness. While the average length of time promotional items are kept is around 8 months, some everyday products – such as umbrellas – make themselves at home for as long as 18 months. The humble mug or pen, whilst not wildly exciting on paper, might be a product with broader appeal and therefore get much more use by your end user. Chat with your supplier who will be able to offer product ideas that lean into what your audience will find most useful and valuable to them.
6. Don’t sacrifice quality
Cheap promotional products may save you money in the short-term, but they’re likely to end up in the bin pretty quickly. Investing in high-quality products will ensure that your brand is represented well and that the products actually get used. Whilst it’s easy to be tempted by low-cost items, it’s worth remembering that rock-bottom prices usually mean you (or your supplier) is compromising on something. This might be reflected in the quality of the product, the safety of the product or in how responsibly it has been made – none of which will do your brand any favors.
8. Consider Sustainability
Sustainability is pretty much a given these days but it can come at a price. Are you committed to investing in a sustainable option or is it just something on your wish list that you’re not actually prepared to pay more for? Realistically, if you allow an extra 20-30% on your budget or target price for sustainable merch, then you won’t be disappointed when you get your final quote. Love the idea of sustainable merch but not sure you have the budget for it? Maybe you can be more selective when it comes to deciding who to give your swag away to. Randomly bombarding every event attendee with a cut price product may end up being a false economy. Studies have proven that when something is in limited supply, it can actually increase demand and desirability? What could be more bullish for your brand than a promotional giveaway that is highly coveted?
9. Look for Economies of Scale
The more promotional products you order, the lower the cost per unit price. So, if you are able to leverage your merchandise across a number of campaigns, this can be a win for your budget in the long term. Using the same product in different ways (incentives, competitions, corporate gifting etc.) can give you a financial and strategic advantage. Or, maybe you can look at collaborating with different departments/teams and combine your promotional product spend as a way of reducing overall costs.
10. How and when will you get it in the end users hands?
Last but not least, the delivery and distribution part of your project should be a key part of your budget / brief. Are multiple items to be packed together? Do they need to be sent to different locations? Is your project urgent which may require air freight? Are there bulky or fragile products included? If you think about this upfront, you may discover that the freight and distribution cost is almost as much as the products. When it comes to promotional products, the urgency of the deadline usually dictates the terms. So, where possible, plan ahead and don’t forget – Chatting with your supplier about the back-end details at the early stages can really help you avoid budget blow-out.
Keen to maximize your marketing spend on promotional merch? Been given a broad brief and not sure where to start? Our friendly team are experts at helping you find the perfect product at the perfect price. Give us a call today and let us help!
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