Get more out of your 2016 promotional product budget - Working with an expert can save money, net better ROI

Posted on in Growth Strategies

If you’re working on your 2016 marketing budget, you’ve likely thought of promotional products. But what should you budget for promotional items and corporate apparel?

Marketing is a bit of a gamble, more art than science. However, working with a consultant who both specializes in promotional products and understands the marketing in the HME industry can result in the best return on investment.

Jennifer Heller, division manager of VGM Corporate Specialties and eight year veteran of the promotional product industry, shares what VGM Members should consider planning for 2016.

Q: What percentage of my overall budget should I allocate to marketing?

A: The first step is to set your annual budget for marketing. Small businesses with revenue lower than $5 million allocate 7 to 8 percent of their total revenue to marketing. For businesses with revenues over $5 million should allocate between 10 and 15 percent.

Marketing spending should also take into account your business goals. Budget on the lower end of that range if yours is a well-established business with a goal of maintaining current awareness. But if yours is a new or established business planning for growth, you’ll need to allocate more to marketing. Ditto if you need to build awareness regarding mergers or acquisitions.

Q: What percentage of my marketing budget should I allocate to promotional products?

A: The budget for promotional products isn’t as important as an overall budget per line item, such as trade show or event.  Evaluate past performance on your efforts. Eliminate or reduce the budget on efforts that didn’t show an ROI the previous year due to low attendance or incorrect target market, and then move the funding to those with more untapped potential.

Budget for staple promotional items to hand out throughout the year – e.g., sponsorships, community events, and marketing to colleagues – and branded apparel. Remember, professional attire such as scrubs and polos fall under your VGM member discounts.

Q: What are some trade show do’s and don’ts?

A: Track the results, including the number of leads, sales conversions and new revenue from each event. This information provides an excellent risk assessment.

If an event provided a positive ROI, increase that line item by adding promotional products to both increase traffic to your booth and drive business later. If an event wasn’t good for you, but you see your competitors getting an ROI, reevaluate your execution.

In addition to the promotional items you give away, everything from tables to signage and event-specific attire falls under the corporate specialties category. Through VGM Corporate Specialties, VGM Members receive discounts on all of these items. Your tangible savings can be significant; the impact our experienced staff can make on your ROI is priceless.

Q: Does it matter where I buy my promotional products? I’m just trying to save money.

A: Who you work with matters for several reasons. Trends don’t last; a knowledgeable specialties industry consultant who stays current can propose new products and promotional ideas that will produce results by getting and keeping people’s attention.

If your current consultant is asking you what you need, go elsewhere. I attend corporate specialties industry trade shows to learn about new products and how those products can be used to help my clients reach their business goals.

Q: How should I decide what to give away?

A: If there is untapped potential at a conference or trade show, inexpensive promotional products can still drive traffic to your booth and increase your chance at an acceptable ROI – when the right product is used in the right way. 

Handing out the bulk candy can actually do more to limit your potential, both at the show and after; no logo or messaging means zero impressions.

A logoed bag makes a high number of impressions: they’ll think of you when they use the bag – and subliminally recommend your company to those around them. But ROI means thinking beyond your logo, website, and phone number. Imprint your bag with a call to action and special offer. Adding a reusable promo code that’s good for six months enables you to track results.

Give away a lower priced item to the general attendance and hold back nicer items for qualified prospects to make them feel special and encourage the relationship. Go a step further after the show, remembering them during the holidays with a gift. 

What does this mean to you?

VGM members receive exclusive member pricing on promotional products, uniforms, and corporate apparel ordered through VGM Corporate Specialties. 

Simplify ordering, stay within budget and save across the board with your own Online Company Store through VGM Corporate Specialties.

Call Jennifer Heller at 855-221-1114 or email [email protected]