BLOG: How promotional merchandise can benefit your business, by Melissa Chevin at Senator

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Melissa Chevin is director of marketing – UK at Senator

Promotional merchandise covers everything from company branded pens, notepads, mugs and keyrings, to clothing, ear phones, food, drink and high-end personalised gifts. In a salon environment it can be used in any number of situations from promoting a new product or service, as a giveaway or prize draw reward, as a seasonal gift for customers or staff and for ongoing brand awareness.

If the right product is chosen that is engaging, relevant and useful to the target audience then it will be kept and used time and again, providing an ongoing reminder of the salon that gave it.  Just think, if a salon gives out a plain pen then customers may appreciate the gesture but will be unlikely to remember who gave it to them a few months down the line. By putting the salon name or logo on the pen, it acts as a mobile marketing tool for communicating messages and maintaining brand awareness, making it an affordable and effective way to grow a business.

For salons looking to incorporate promotional merchandise into their marketing strategy, here are some top tips on how to source it.

Prepare a full brief

The potential supplier of the chosen product must understand what it is being used for and why, whether it’s a low-cost giveaway or a more expensive gift. For example, is it for increasing sales of a product, to advertise the salon name or to promote customer loyalty? They also need to understand the people the product is being targeted at, the timescales and the available budget.  Preparing a detailed brief is essential in order for potential suppliers to be able to recommend the most appropriate products. 

Choose the supplier carefully

Google ‘promotional merchandise’ and page upon page of suppliers will fill the screen. To choose the right one it is important to look at reputation, experience and if they have established relationships with manufacturers and suppliers. They should also be able to offer free advice and recommendations on branding, messaging, packaging and sometimes creative design.  A good starting point is to contact the British Promotional Merchandise Association for details of its members who have all signed up to a strict code of conduct, work to a best practice format and are financially vetted. It is also worth keeping an eye out during Promotional Products Week, which is taking place from 15-19 September 2014 and will see high levels of activity and special offers from suppliers.

Set a budget, but don’t buy just on price

The budget will of course be a key factor, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of quality of service. Failures in that area can lead to issues and more expense in the long run as ordering promotional items is not as simple as buying an off-the-shelf product such as hairspray from a supplier. It needs to be carefully planned, and proofs seen and approved to ensure the design and branding is correct. Poor quality branding will really reduce the impact of the product and will portray an unprofessional image to the recipients, so it is vital to ensure it looks right. One of our most popular forms of branding is our digital printing, which offers great full colour imagery and even photographic shots with brilliant precision. It is also important to establish the full price of a product, remembering that the print price will be more expensive if the salon logo has more than one colour in it, plus delivery charges.

Consider ethics and the environment

No salon can afford to ignore the growing demand from consumers for sustainable, eco-friendly products and many ‘green’ promotional products are available such as the Nature Plus, a genuinely biodegradable pen that has DIN certification and is designed to compost completely. It is also imperative to consider the whole supply chain and ensure that products are manufactured in ways that are socially responsible.

Timing is everything

The lead time for the order must be made clear from the outset and you should double check that the supplier can meet the deadline. Many will offer rapid services to meet even the tightest of deadlines, and Senator offers a range of express services on many of its products.

Promotional merchandise can be used by any size or type of salon and is highly effective in raising brand awareness, communicating new messages and as an ongoing reminder to those who matter. Sourcing products may seem like a potential minefield, but with this advice kept in mind salon owners can be confident that they will source the right product for their requirements.