For Just a Few Dollars, an Oil Company Fueled Brand Awareness That Lasted 36 Years…and Counting

For Just a Few Dollars, an Oil Company Fueled Brand Awareness That Lasted 36 Years…and Counting

Promotional products are more powerful than you may realize…

By Mary Friese, Minuteman Press International

I wish I still had my little green community soccer league t-shirt.  It was branded by an oil company with a logo depicting a cute little house wrapped in a cozy scarf.  There are so many memories attached to wearing it – oh, and blood, too.  I was hit in the nose with a ball that most 8-year-old goalies would have dodged.  It may not have been a graceful save, but to this day, when I see a truck bearing that oil company’s name and their familiar green and gold scarf wearin’ house, I get a rush of emotions and I often tell the story to whomever is nearby.  My own children will occasionally say, “Hey Mom, look at that truck. There’s your favorite company.”  And so I blush, but I am also blown away by the imprint that this brand has made on me when, in 1980, they decided to put ink to fabric and set a dozen 8 year olds loose to run and play, bearing their logo.  The irony of an oil company “fueling” brand awareness in this way is pretty hard to ignore, but the lesson here about the vitality and endurance of promotional products is invaluable for all business owners.

I certainly wasn’t the target audience of an oil company, so they couldn’t have imagined that they would gain loyalty not only from the adults in the community, but also from the little kids who associated their business name and graphics with generosity, good times and the bloody noses that sometimes have to happen in life.  That’s the thing about promotional products.  You can never really trace the endpoint of their enormous reach.  The only guarantee you need is that people love them in all of their varied forms and if you pass on getting printed in this arena, people may just pass on your business.

So be smart and get yourself to a marketing specialist who can design and print what you need, from t-shirts, to pens, to calendars, to neat techie-type gadgets, to a whole bunch of shake mixers for the health-nuts out there. Every time you turn around, the options to print your brand on something that will endear you to new clients seem to increase.

People want what you are willing to give to them freely, always. And, if it happens to be functional and makes them look and feel good, they will give their loyalty to your business in return.

Be generous and distribute promotional gifts widely to gain trust and new clients

Bob Heimbuch, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President located in DC/MD/VA, talks about the business of making personal connections via just the right promotional product.  You simply can’t lose when you lead with generosity and add a personal touch.  Bob advises, “Keeping your name in front of your prospective clients is one of the elementary basics in the sales process. Utilizing promotional products is one of the most cost effective means of keeping your name in front of people that you want as customers.”

He continues, “Choosing the correct promotional product to distribute to your prospects is important as well and should not be a rash decision. Focus on promotional products that will be useful to your clients such as flash drives, umbrellas, calendars, drink ware and apparel to mention just a few. I also think it’s important to give these promotional products to your potential clients in person. Eyeball-to-eyeball interaction is just another sales basic and fundamental to human connection. And… don’t forget to bring enough of your promo items for everyone in the office during your visit.”

  • The most often owned promotional item in the U.S. is the branded T-shirt, followed by drinkware, writing instruments and outerwear. The fact is that all promotional products have strong ownership, with one-quarter or more of recipients owning each.  – Research provided by the Advertising Specialty Institute, ©2016, All Rights Reserved

Maria Medina, owner of Minuteman Press in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, remarks on what she gained from one of the educational seminars at the annual franchise owners’ convention hosted by her franchisor, “One of the most useful things I took away from the Minuteman Press International convention last year was how useful promotional products are when building brand awareness. Not only do they allow you to illustrate the capabilities of your company better, but they also keep your brand in the back of your prospects’ minds.”

Maria concludes on a personal note, “My wife and I actually called up a cleaning service the other day because they had left a care package at our house, and we had kept their magnet on our fridge. You never know when your customer might need you, and promotional products allow you to “hang-around” for when they do!”As a digital print, design and marketing specialist on the forefront of helping her clients intensify their marketing efforts and the connections they make with people they need to reach, Maria gleaned valuable insight at the most recent Minuteman Press owners’ convention that she took back and applied to the clients in her community.

She continues, “One of the speakers at the convention challenged us to find someone that wouldn’t thank you when you gave them a free promotional product they can use in their everyday life. To this day, I have yet to find someone who has not taken or thanked me for handing them a pen, mug, notepad, keyring or a magnet. As the speaker explained, promotional products are a great way to get the name of your company in front of your customer more than once. And if they can use said promotional product on a daily basis, they will be continuously reminded of your brand on a subconscious level.”

To meet with design and production professionals within the printing industry and order items imprinted with a tailored brand message and crisp, striking logo representation contributes to the odds that potentially new clients will be impressed in the way that is intended, one that brings them in for the first time.  Also, these items have potential to take on a life of their own, as I experienced with the local oil company that sponsored my soccer team in the 1980s.  If and when that happens for your brand, you will maintain an impression on clients as they evolve into the ranks of existing customers by keeping the brand message in front of them, always; AND you will reach people beyond what you imagine your target audience to be, as is the experience of many people who are left with an indelible impression from promotional gifts of all kinds.

From branded apparel worn during first encounters, to custom-designed pens, t-shirts, notepads and phone chargers, businesses are armed with the ability to strike the appeal of potential customers in a variety of different ways. And as these potentially new clients gladly accept each gift, they accept into their lives a perpetual reminder of your brand message and the products and services provided. They may also become tied to times in life that we cherish and those ties can be further reinforced with personalized customer service.

  • Adult coloring books are a hot item in 2016. Consider a branded bundle that includes imprinted colored pencils and you’ll be sure to gain favor with the inner children of potential clients – a most powerful and lasting impression.

As she operates a business to business industry-leading franchise, Chris is well-known and deeply appreciated within her community for helping her clients find their unique selling propositions through personal consultations.  From there, since she knows the boon to business branded gifts can be, she listens to their specific needs and helps them to design and produce just the right items needed to meet their particular objectives.

Chris McGroder, owner of International Minute Press in Concord, North Carolina, speaks to the timelessness of branded gifts and how your business can use them to lock in a seemingly effortless flow of new and repeat business.  As Chris says, “Promotional products have unbelievable staying power.  Unlike traditional forms of advertising (print, radio, T.V.) that typically run for a specified time period and then end, a promotional product continues to advertise for an unlimited amount of time.  Every time an individual looks at it and uses it, they see your message. Those repeated impressions increase brand familiarity.”

Here are three truths to remember about how promotional products can fuel your brand awareness – from International Minute Press owner Chris McGroder:

1. Promotional products can help you get your foot in the door.  Everyone likes getting a free gift.  Considering the law of reciprocity, you can use a promotional product to “break the ice” and engage in a conversation with a potential client who will now be more likely to listen to what you have to say. The promotional product helps them remember your brand after you’ve left.

2. Promotional products can help build brand loyalty with current customers. Giving your customer a promotional product makes them feel appreciated and valued.  Loyal customers help build your brand by referring and recommending you to their friends, peers, and colleagues.

3. Promotional products have the capability to reach individuals outside ofyour target audience. People share things all the time. How many timeshave you borrowed a pen and not returned it?  Maybe you wrote a note on a sticky note you received as a promotional item and then passed that note on to someone else.  Maybe you received a t-shirt and then donated it to Goodwill.  All of those items (and possibly more) reached more individuals than the initial recipient.  All of these printed representations increase your reach and promotes yourbrand.

I feel like I should write a note to that oil company in 1980, the one who chose to sponsor my local soccer team aiming for my parents, but unknowingly impressed at least one of the 8 year-olds on the team well into adulthood. I should let them know I never forgot them because I wore their name and logo on my shirt as part of that team and to this day, I mention their company when I tell the story of my great save and consequential bloody nose. Some ties can never be broken.

At the end of the day, fueling brand awareness is the mission of any intelligent entrepreneur. Whether you choose fitness trackers, drinkware, USB drives or one of my favorites, branded apparel, you need to get printed; and you need to get generous with promotional items for both immediate and impressively long-term, bottom line results.

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