HOW TO GET THE MOST VALUE FROM THIS MARKETING KIT
Bottom Line Up Front: You’re in the business of brand building. Here’s how to pitch its power to your audience — and unlock more interest & more sales than you ever thought possible. Details inside:
In today’s world, branded merchandise is everywhere.
Your bank’s branded USB key. The local lacrosse team’s branded helmet. A breast cancer nonprofit’s event t-shirt or the Travis Scott x McDonald’s gear drop.
From in-person conferences to viral content on TikTok, ‘free with purchase’ gifts to birthday perks for members, branded merch has all but taken over. And the evidence tells us why: of 15,000 people surveyed, 92% said they hadn’t forgotten the advertiser or product advertised after receiving branded merch that year.
87% kept the merch item for longer than 12 months. 79% said they’d likely be a repeat customer. And 56% said their impression of the brand in question improved after receiving the product.
Forget just brand recognition — we’re talking brand affinity. We’re talking better ROI’s, stickier marketing campaigns, and the most sacred thing of all: consumer loyalty. With strategically branded merch, that’s what’s possible.
This is precisely why brand building should be the cornerstone of every pitch you make.
Whether it’s a detailed presentation to an interested prospect or a quick Tweet outlining your latest seasonal campaign, the underlying differentiator is that you have the power to set their brand identity apart. You can increase their exposure and their consumer retention, and you have the ability to earn them more for less.
Brand building is the key to everything. It always has been. But today, in 2021, that rings true even louder. We’re in the age of screens and virality, of experimental marketing and experiential value, and the brands that are quietly doing the same old thing, on repeat, will be the first to lose.
But not you. Not your customers. Because you have their key in your pocket, today’s Marketing Kit will walk you through every high-value use-case — so you can walk up to any door and leave an impact.
Put your walking shoes on. And let’s go.
Brand Building: The What
First, let’s look at the basics.
We know that brand building refers to identifying, creating, and managing brand assets — in our case, branded merchandise — to differentiate a business, organization, or school from its competitors. But what types of branded merchandise achieve that?
Great question. Here’s where we tell you: all of them. When it’s done right — when it’s done strategically — every piece of merchandise a brand puts out into the world helps to build its legacy. And its returns. But in the interest of giving you a sturdier jumping-off point, let’s examine some of our favorites:
- Employee Apparel: One of the easiest ways to boost staff morale (and get employees excited about their workplace) is to provide killer branded apparel. Whether it’s on-trend uniforms or unique and high-quality swag, employee apparel works to enhance brand identity and brand exposure — because in-store or out of it, employees will be more likely to don the walking billboard with pride. And if the employees are proud, their networks — and even, say, nearby strangers on a morning commute — will take notice.And guess what? People are always interested in what other people are excited about.
- Trade Show Giveaways: And then there are the conferences and trade shows — the places where your customers are fighting to have their brand voices heard in a space filled with other brand voices. How will they stand out? How will they be unique — and memorable? Branded merch, as a giveaway, is their best answer. When crafted well, trade show giveaways help establish their brand as a reputable, high-value business with a distinctive identity. When prepared really well, the merch serves as its very own self-contained marketing tactic — since recipients of the swag will actually want to wear it.And no, wearing it won’t only expose new faces to the brand — it’ll actually increase brand recognition, affinity, and loyalty for the person wearing it, too.
- Customer Gifts: Converting prospects into customers is a big deal — but retaining customers well into the long-term is an even bigger one. Giving your customers a direct path to achieving that audience retention is a huge selling point, so you should be pitching customer gifts as frequently as possible. Branded merch in gift form looks like your customers giving their customers — whether a first-time buyer or long-time loyalist — a physical show of gratitude. As long as the item given has been thoughtfully chosen to provide utility to the customer, it’ll be meaningful. That could look like a branded mug with high-quality coffee beans, a branded tote for every purchase over a certain threshold, or a branded USB key just in time for back-to-school. If it’s valuable to them, they’ll use it — and they’ll remember that your customer brought that value into their lives.
- Event Goodie Bags: Just as trade show giveaways help your customers’ audience keep them in mind after the end of the trade show, event goodie bags allow your customers’ audience to remember them long after the event i. Whether it’s a nonprofit organization, a touring band, the neighborhood gallery, or an international corporation, giving event-goers something to take home conveys that your customer cares about them. But they won’t just leave with a favorable taste in their mouths — they’ll go with something that’s (hopefully) creative and valuable. They’ll use it, keeping your customers’ brand front of mind while serving as the brand ‘exposer’ to their networks. That’s a simultaneous boost to brand affinity and marketing power for the price of a mug.
- Fan Contests: We can’t forget about your school, sport, or entertainment customers now, can we? For them, audience engagement is everything. Keeping their communities united, excited, and returning to their events, games, and concerts is the number one goal — because when they do that, they keep their people spending. So since increased engagement equals increased selling power, why not use branded merch as fuel for engagement? Whether it’s a fan contest that sends big-deal branded merch (like high-end speakers in team colors) to a winner, or it’s a community contest that sends more miniature branded goods to every person participating, the fun of the event will be memorable. And every time they see the merch after that, they’ll remember that fun, that experience, and your customer’s brand with delight.
Brand Building: The How
So you have your what options — the offerings you can ground your brand building strategy in as you mull over possible pitches. Depending on your customer base and your capabilities, the offerings we covered above may make perfect sense for your business…, or they might not align at all. So, your first step for strategy implementation will be determining what works best for your business.
If you primarily sell to schools, swag gifts for teachers and administrators (and PTO’s and student leaders) could be a fantastic way to boost internal morale — and get them showing off their school pride outside of the hallways. If you primarily work with a corporate audience, branded merch gifts for all employees at the company retreat weekend could offer the same dose of positivity to their morale.
These options are just that — options. They’re starting points, and they require you to make them your own. Tweak based on needs and wants, based on audiences and behaviors, and your customers will go home with branded merch that matters.
And that means they’ll have a compelling, distinctive, and memorable brand.
Are you already starting to think about your offerings? Great. Here are three considerations to help you nail your pitch:
- Contextualize: In the same way that we’ve explained the power of brand building to you here, you have to explain the power of brand building to your customers. Emphasize that the right branded merchandise — when created strategically — isn’t just a throwaway product their audience will want to trash the second they get home. It’ll be useful and valuable. And it’ll singlehandedly help their brand strengthen the ties they have with their people. It would be best to give them the full context — before you get to the order details. You must convey that the power of brand building fuels marketing, that it fuels community engagement, and that it fuels earnings. Convey all of that in earnest, and your customers will be chomping at the bit to get involved.
- Specify Quality: In every moment of your pitch, you should be underscoring this: the most critical aspect of the strategy is quality. The value that the branded merchandise is bringing to its recipients. You’re not just recommending that your customers send out generic t-shirts or lackluster water bottles — you’re suggesting they provide a burst of utility, want, and joy to their people without asking for anything in return.
- When there’s quality — when the item is practical, attractive, a joy to wield — it sticks around. It isn’t discarded in the attic or donated to the donation bin; it is deployed over and over, often for more than a year. Make sure your customers know what that means for their investment: they buy into the marketing strategy today, and returns come back at them indefinitely. You’re not in the business of branded t-shirts. You’re in the business of impactful, brand-building, quality merchandise. So make that clear.
- Brand Intentionally: Before your pitches to interested prospects, set yourself up for success by doing your homework. Research. Scour through their existing online collateral — their website, their social media channels, the press that’s been written about them — and get to know who they are as a brand. What’s special about them? What’s unique about their audience? You’re not pitching your products; you’re pitching their solution. So research like it. Once you have a solid understanding of what their brand identity is trying to convey, connect it to what you can do. If they have a big industry conference coming up, have ideas for trade show giveaways ready to go. If it’s a summer camp looking to stand out at the springtime camp fair, recommend branded sunscreen bottles or sunglasses for the prospects who leave their contact info. You want to be detailed — both in your approach to grounding products in their brand identity and in your approach to choosing the right products — so take the time to consider your options. And then wow them.
The Wrap Up
If you take just one thing from this article away with you, let it be this: the brand building is not just creating a product or handing out a gift. It’s taking the time to identify, construct, and maintain a custom strategy for an individual brand so that they can connect with their unique audience in a meaningful way.
That audience could be customers. It could be employees and vendors, or it could be investors or students. It could be prospects. It could be every member of the regional community. Whatever it is, brand building done right has the power to move them.
It has the power to boost workplace productivity and morale. To engage those who don’t yet know the brand and to retain those who do. To propel marketing campaigns forward, enhance sales seen in the short-term, and strengthen brand loyalty that continues to build for years to come.
It really is that impactful a strategy. We’ve proven it to you here — and now it’s your turn to prove it to your customers. Create stand-out offers oriented around their needs. Pitch them clearly, with details that make absolute sense for their brand’s goals. Contextualize the power, ground all you can in brand-driven utility, and wait for the sales to pour in.
You’re perfectly positioned to make a difference in their brand’s future. You’ve got the capabilities — the e-commerce set-up for seamless distribution and the Online Designer if they want to give designing a whirl themselves — but more than those tech tools is your insight. Your industry wisdom and your relentlessly creative mind.
You’re the perfect partner for brand-building success. We know it, you know it — so now, make them realize it.
Curious about how you can make your pitches pop even more? It’s time you met Online Proposals.
The easiest way to send virtual pitch presentations that pack a massive wow punch is the tech solution that gives you efficiency, quality, and professionalism in one beautifully wrapped package. If you’re ready to stand out from the very first pitch this year, get to know it here.
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