I like stuff a lot. And I like a lot of stuff. I imagine other people do, too. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was George Carlin who said that "home is where you keep your stuff, while you’re out getting other stuff."
Knowing that, it was hard to keep a straight face when I read in Adweek that a survey was needed to discover that people really like it when advertisers give them stuff. If the stuff has the advertiser’s name on it, people remember the advertiser. They may even buy something from said advertiser.
The icing on the gateau? The survey was done by the Advertising Specialty Institute. They’re an organization that helps bring advertisers and tchotchke vendors together. Not exactly the least biased of all sources.
It’s fun to mock them but, of course, they’re right. Marketers wouldn’t use these branded items if they didn’t measurably increase results. And if marketers didn’t use them so much, there’d be no need for an Advertising Specialty Institute.
One clarifying point. The best use of promotional swag is not to get the target market’s attention. That’s why "clever" agencies and advertisers don’t often go for the idea. And if they ever try, those agencies and advertisers rarely know how to make the swag work for them.
In direct marketing, we don’t give this stuff away without a plan. We call these items "offers" and we use them to get the action we desire from our target market -- from giving us their contact information to closing a sale.
Branded stuff, promotional swag, tchotchkes, offers . . . whatever you call it, it’s a direct marketer’s secret weapon. I’m not too worried that the secret is out. Most Adweek readers won’t understand.