Every small business, no matter the industry in which it exists, needs a few basic components in order to be successful. The business needs a realistic model for establishment and growth, fiscally responsible management and a product or service that fills a need for a customer base. Additionally, the business also needs a basic understanding of this potential customer base and effective strategies for communicating with the consumers within it.

This last element of basic business practice is more simply known as marketing, and no small business can grow without efficient marketing strategies. You must be able to identify and utilize effective strategies for getting the word out about your business and letting your target market know that your service or product can fill their needs or solve their problems. There are countless ways for doing this, and the most successful small business owners will strategically utilize a combination of techniques to achieve the overall goal of gaining more customers.

One of the oldest and most effective marketing technique in existence is the free gift or printed promotional item. These are the keychains, tote bags, cups, pens and other items that customers – or potential customers – can use for a practical purpose, ideally every day. In addition to providing the basic functionality of the item itself, printed promotional items can have a meaningful impact on brand recognition, customer loyalty and the overall success of your small business.

Printed Items in the Digital World

Many modern entrepreneurs seem to have been brainwashed into believing that digital advertising is the only realistic and successful form of marketing these days. While digital marketing certainly has its benefits, it is far from being the end-all and be-all for small business advertising. In fact, many types of businesses– particularly small local businesses – can benefit even more from a relatively small investment in printed items, as opposed to a more expensive and time-consuming commitment in a form of digital marketing.

Even if our society has shifted towards a more digital world, the human brain still functions in the same basic way as it did 1,000 years ago, and printed promotional items help marketers take advantage of basic psychological tendencies.

For instance, research has shown that when someone receives a gift, he or she will feel an instinctive need to give something in return. This means that if your bakery gives customers a free coffee cup, the customer will feel a subtle desire to give you his or her business in return. In addition, the customer will see your logo and think of your bakery every time the cup is used.

Benefits of Printed Promotional Items

Aside from the subtle response caused by the gift-giving psychology, there are more concrete ways in which printed items can be beneficial for small business. Many of these benefits will vary according to your business, your market and the specific item itself, but a few of the most basic include:

  • Improved brand recognition
  • Targeted marketing with unique items
  • Relatively low investment with potential for significant, long-term returns
  • Better customer loyalty and relationships

A Few Considerations

In planning your marketing campaign with printed items, you will want to be clever and creative when determining what items would best suit the needs of your market base. You will also need to be practical in the investment and distribution of the items. For instance, if you are planning to distribute printed tote bags for your bookstore, you should research the different materials that can be used for the bags and which would best handle the print.

Additionally, you will also want to understand the type of items your customers and potential customers would utilize the most. This is why an investment firm may distribute items that would regularly be used in an office or on a golf course. Similarly, an IT specialist or computer repair shop may give away free USB thumb drives with their name and logo printed on them.

Decide which items would benefit the customer the most, be used on a regular basis and relate to your business and take advantage of all that can be gained from printed marketing.