Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World

Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World
Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World

Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World

The 21st century has seen some major cultural shifts, and younger generations live in a digital world in which technology influences everything. Technology has changed the way we communicate, shop, learn and interact with each other in almost every meaningful way. Similarly, marketing and advertising have shifted dramatically towards digital techniques, and classic marketing methods seem to be going extinct.

One of the oldest and most effective of these classic methods is the free printed promotional items. They include pens, water bottles, keychains and other free gifts that companies give away in hopes of generating business and loyalty. This style of marketing has stood the test of time because of its effectiveness, but can these printed promotional items still be relevant in the digital age?

Same Old Humans – Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World

The Internet, eCommerce, smartphones and social media have caused more marketing changes in the last 15 years than in the entire history of the field. But while human behavior has also shifted towards the digital world, our minds still work in the same way as they have for thousands of years. The same things that caught a person’s attention and drew an initial reaction in the Middle Ages will do the same in 2017.

Of course, our society and mainstream consciousness has changed significantly over the years, but will still have the same brain chemistry and natural thought patterns that we always have. Smart marketers understand this and know that while trends may change the industry, humans are still the same creatures as they were before the digital era, and some of the same rules apply when trying to entice a certain reaction.

The Psychology of the Free Gift – Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World

In the marketing world, the desired reaction is usually an impulse to buy or simply be in favor of a certain brand or product. One of the simplest ways to achieve this response is by giving away something useful. In a New York Times article on the effectiveness of printed promotional items, the psychology behind this was highlighted.

In the article, Jerry McLaughlin of Branders says “If you give something away, the recipient is honor bound to give something back. In every language and culture, research has found there are really pejorative words for people who get and don’t give back. We humans are hardwired to respond if we get something.”

From a simple colored envelope or free mailing labels to USB thumb drives, consumers naturally react positively to a useful physical item and feel the need to give something back. While the response may be subtle, this type of reaction cannot be achieved with a pop-up, video, blog or any other strictly visual stimulation.

The Advantages of Printed Promotional Items – Printed Promotional Items in a Digital World

In addition to the efficiency of the responses gained by giving away free items, there are a number of other benefits that this style of marketing can provide for small business owners. Brand recognition is one of the most important of these benefits, and providing customers with a useful item that has the name and logo of a company printed on it is perhaps the most effective technique of them all.

For these gifts to be most effective, they must not only relate to the industry of the company, but they should be useful in settings where the consumer would be making a decision about the specific service or product. For instance, gifts targeted at executives should be items that are useful in the office, the golf course or other environments where business decisions are made.

This sort of targeted advertising can reach an audience in a way that no digital ad ever could, and this is one of the major reasons why promotional items will always be a key element of effective marketing.