How to get more customers with promotional merchandise, and how to do it better.

My Google Campus Wallet

Last summer, we were invited to take part in a week-long programme at Google Campus where, along with several other startups, we were given access to some of Google’s finest minds and insights.

It was a brilliant week that helped us refine a lot of the thinking we’d been doing over the previous months. And I’m only being slightly facetious when I say that one of the highlights was the free Google swag. Being the mighty world-beating behemoth that they are, they don’t do things by halves. And what we were given helped me crystalise my thinking around the benefits of promotional merchandise.

Alongside a notepad, flag (!), and some other goodies, we were given one of these very rare leather wallets, embossed with the Google Campus logo. And I’ve used it every day since. It’s accompanied me on trips in three continents, a 1,400 mile move across Europe, countless nights out, trips to the superstore, taxi rides, dates, and coffees.

It goes in and out of my pocket countless times a day.

And although I can’t say that I notice the subtly embossed Google Campus logo every single time that I use it, on some level I’m always aware that I have a wallet in my pocket that was given to me by that particular brand.

Google Campus is in my head (as well as my pocket)… Every. Single. Day.

How you can achieve the same effect

Of course, not all of us have the swag budget that Google has. And a limited run of embossed designer wallets just isn’t something that most of us can afford to get made for our customers etc.

But that doesn’t mean that we all can’t benefit from promotional merchandise to increase visibility, and improve the “warmth” that our customers feel towards us. And obviously we’re big fans of t-shirts to help achieve that warmth!

You can clearly use t-shirts to clothe your team and make them happier, as well as give them more credibility with those they come into contact with. We’ve written more about this here.

Win more business with t-shirts. Free webinar with Ramp’s CEO, Neil Cocker.

But there are at least two other great ways to use t-shirts.

  1. A thank you to your customers
  2. Customer acquisition & lead generation

saying thank you

Ramp says thank you with t-shirts (of course!), and it always goes down a treat. And we’re not the only ones. A kindly worded “thank you” email to your customer, requesting their details, and they get some goodies in the post a few days later. What’s not to love!?

  • Tips
    • Think about the stage of the sale at which you want to give them their goodies. Just after they sign up? When they reach a certain stage of activity? ( have a great method for this!).
    • In your email, remember to ask for their address, and size preference if you’re giving away a t-shirt (and color preferences if you have several options). But be sensitive about how you word your email. Give them an option to say “no, thank you”, as some people may just not wear t-shirts, or would rather not give their size to a stranger over email.
    • What message about your company do you want to send? Your thank you gift should reflect this.

Customer Acquistion & Lead generation

Sending goodies to your customer after they sign on the dotted line is kind of obvious. But it’s amazing how much people are affected by a simple gift in order to make the purchase in the first place.

In fact, it’s a well established psychological phenomenon of reciprocity. If I give you something, you feel a small but substantial “need” to return the favour. And in this case, the hope is that they return the favour by buying from you.

  • Tips
    • Numbers rule here. If you’re going to be giving away things to incentivise people to sign-up or buy, then make sure that the cost of *all* the goodies you give away is no bigger than a quarter of the gross profit that you will make from those customers in the future. (This is a very rough guide, and will vary from business to business).
    • Of course, you can’t predict how many people will sign-up with you, but through experimentation and recording of where your sales come from, you can quickly find out how effective your promotional merch is at increasing the likelihood of a sale. Make sure you record who give merch to, who they work for, and whether they end up being a customer. Compare these customers to those who you acquire through other methods.
    • Think about the type of customer you want. Will they use the gift you give them? Where will they use it? No point giving a golf-umbrella to someone who lives in Florida and never has a need to use it.

marketing & Visibility

So, as well as giving a customer a warm, fuzzy feeling when you say thank you, or perhaps convincing a customer to purchase from you, you have also given them a powerful tool which they’ll use to promote you.

Free of charge!

If you’ve given them a t-shirt they’re exposing your brand to many, many people every time they pull it on. Depending on where and when a t-shirt is worn, it can be seen hundreds or thousands of times a day. And some (or all!) of those people that see that t-shirt could be potential future customers.

That exposure comes with the implicit endorsement of the wearer. Who wears the t-shirt of a company that they dislike?

Can you think of another way that one of your customers will happily parade your logo and website address around for months (if not years!) for as little as $4 or $5 per t-shirt?* In fact, we think it can be a better spend of your marketing budget than online ads!

  • Tips
  • What merch will get the most use? What will get you the most visibility? Pens are a common idea, for example, but unless they’re really nice, they tend to get lost quickly, or end up with someone else, and the connection with the recipient is lost. We think t-shirts are pretty hard to beat in terms of visibility, perceived value, and endorsement. But there are so many great promo merch ideas out there that might be the perfect fit for your business.
  • Make sure you’re easy to find from the design on the swag. Long, hard to remember URL? Simplify it! Phone number in tiny letters that’s hard to read? Make it bigger. Imagine you’re walking towards someone with a beautifully designed t-shirt, with a nice logo and URL on it. You’re much more likely to have your interest piqued than by some cheap, poorly designed shirt with difficult to read text or URL. Which probably won’t have been worn in the first place!
  • Think about colours and contrast. Black on white, and white on black are easy to see from a distance. But they’re not exactly imaginitave. Maybe you can do something more desirable with cool “on-brand” colours. But keep an eye on how easy they are to pick out from a distance, across a crowded room.

So, the final word is that you can get 50 great quality t-shirts from us from as little as £4 / €5 / $6 each. And whether you use them to say thank you to your customers, or to incentivise potential new customers, it’s clearly a tiny amount to pay to get such great visibility.

Head straight to our Order page to get started, or check out what some of our customers thought about working with us.


* Some people will actually *pay* for the privilege!

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