Successful Promotions

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Summer 2004

NEWS : Successful Promotions

Why I Love Promotional Products…

“Because they Made My Trade show Leads Grow By 50%!”

By Michele Bell
Patti Burke has more than 20 years of sales experience and has consistently been a top-performer in each industry in which she’s worked through the years.

One thing she says she’s learned for sure is how effective promotional products can be in generating sales and cultivating business relationships.

Recently, in her current position as the global director of sales for a scientific equipment manufacturing company, Burke witnessed yet again how promotional products can have an amazing affect on business – as a trade show traffic builder.

Q: How did you become familiar with promotional products?

A: At my very first sales job, there was a really great marketing manager who used a lot of promotional products internally for motivation and incentive purposes. I got to see first hand how well they worked to keep employees happy, and to psych up the sales force.

She also took the time to explain to me how much of a difference promotional products would make in the way clients and prospects interacted with me – and she was right. I could see the difference right away in the kind of response and amount of call-backs I got when I used promotional products to promote myself.

Q: How have you used promotional products over the years?

A: For holiday gifts, as something special to leave behind with secretaries and gatekeepers, as a thank-you to vendors who have gone over and above for me, as a “remember me” item mailed out with sales fliers and of course at trade shows.

Q: What are some promotional products and ideas that you’ve used?

A: Well first, I rely totally on my promotional consultant to come up with the ideas for me. I am WAY to busy to do that! I basically tell him who I want to reach, what message I want to convey and what I’d like the outcome to be.

In the past we’ve done pens, T-shirts, umbrellas, caps, wipe-off message boards, mugs, plastic martini glasses, lanyards, magnets, calendars, flashlights, notepads and of course, watches, all with the company’s name and logo, my name or both on them.

Q: Can you tell me about the recent trade show promotion you did with the watches?

A: With pleasure. Every year there’s a huge trade show that attracts thousands of people in a certain segment of the scientific industry. My company always has a booth, and I’ve noticed in previous years that it was getting more difficult to get people to stop and talk to us – all the attendees just seemed to grab a brochure and scoot by.

My promotional consultant remembered that the trade show was coming up again, because he had always done items like pens and Post-its for me in the past. When I told him I was a little disappointed in the actual stay-and-chat-in-our-booth factor among the show’s attendees, he came up with an idea.

Before the show, I gave him a list of 500 attendees my company wanted to target. We worked together to come up with a letter and with it, we sent a beautiful leather watchband. The letter said that if the recipient stopped by our booth to chat about our products and services and brought the letter, we’d give them the actual watch mechanism that went with the band as a gift. We tied it together with the theme, “If you give us some of your time, we’ll give you some of ours… .” My businesscard was attached to the letter as well.

Q: What were the results?

A: Phenomenal! First, the amount of leads we generated increased 50% over the previous year. More importantly, though, is that the people who came in the booth stayed longer than two seconds and actually had great, meaningful conversations about our company with our sales reps.

Even people who couldn’t make it to the show emailed me when they got the letter with the watchband, thanking me. Talk about response – they’ll definitely remember me and the company now!

Q: What about the cost? Was it expensive to order 500 watches?

A: Not for the subsequent business we got from some of the attendees who spent time in our booth, and since then have become great customers. The cost for the watches became miniscule when I looked at the business that’s been generated from that one trade show. My only problem now, as I recently told my promotional consultant, is how to top the response with an even better promotion at next year’s show!

Michele Bell is the editor of Imprint.