Bet the Farm on Branded Merchandise
In this post we are going to discuss a simple truth with powerful potential: People Love Stuff. (Especially FREE Stuff.)
People particularly like Stuff from places they like. A lot. And this is where you come in.
We have covered the importance of branding your farm, so hopefully you’re already comfortable with the notion that marketing is a necessity for the health and growth of your agribusiness.
One of your marketing strategies should involve Stuff. Some call it “swag.” For the purposes of this post, let’s use the terms “branded merchandise,” or “merch,” to refer to items for sale, and “promotional products” as branded items given away for free.
You may be thinking, “But I’m a farm. Margins are tight. Why would I spend money on Stuff?” Simple. Because hands down, branded merchandise is THE most effective form of advertising, with a terrific ROI (that’s “Return on Investment”).
Why? For starters, the recall rate with branded merchandise is far higher than with other forms of advertising; 85% of people who received branded apparel within a year remember the company it represented and 82% are more likely to have a favorable impression of that company, according to a 2016 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). That’s huge!
But wait, there’s more. A consumer study by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) in 2017 showed that 79% of people who received promotional items researched the brand, and 83% were more likely to do business with that brand as a result.
While helpful in quantifying the value of branded merchandise and promotional products, the statistics only serve to confirm what most marketers already know: Stuff Works.
The way we see it, there are three major aspects of the value of branded merchandise:
(1) The Loyalty Factor
Promotional products can actually help strengthen your repeat customer base. Not only do people love receiving Stuff that doesn’t cost them anything, they also respond positively to the gesture; everyone appreciates being appreciated.
If you don’t already have some form of loyalty card or “frequent flier” program, start one. If you do, consider rewarding those repeat customers with some small, tangible gesture of thanks. Swag need not be expensive; think pens, magnets, stickers, keychains.
Shirts are one of the most popular branded items sold and given away because they are a favorite way for people to show who or what they like and support. Branded shirts, often worn by staff, and then given away or bought by customers, is a way of essentially expanding your team to include your biggest fans, who become “brand ambassadors.”
When thinking about what products make sense for your agribusiness, remember that the most effective types of promotional items have the following qualities: they are useful, durable, relate to your brand, and are branded with your name and/or logo. (We would love to help you come up with some cost-effective ideas!)
(2) Added Exposure
Branded merchandise, whether given away or purchased, provides more visibility and awareness with potential new customers than other advertising. Why? Because tangible items last longer than ads, are often shared with other than the original recipient, and engage people in a tactile way. The PPAI study showed that 41% of people keep promotional products between one and five years, and 18% keep them over 11 years!
Take for example a coffee mug, which is then used to serve a guest a cup of the good stuff, and sparks conversation about its origin.
Someone asks for a pen, and you hand them one from your briefcase. We wonder what brand it displays (and if you’ll get it back!)
You serve wine to guests at your home. Which winery is featured on the glasses you pull out of the cupboard? They are likely to be one of many topics discussed.
Some wineries partner with local hotels and guest houses to have a complimentary bottle of their wine waiting for each guest. The tactic draws countless visitors to their tasting rooms.
(3) Putting the “Act” in “Action”
When branded merchandise is dangled like a carrot with a call to action, people are much more likely to act. (It’s surprising what people will do for free Stuff.) And this phenomenon is not age-dependent. Branded merchandise ranked as the number one method of advertising to create action across all generations – even before online or print, according to that PPAI study.
A giveaway can be used to encourage and reward engagement on your farm’s social media accounts (you DO have social media for your farm, right? If not, let’s talk.) Offer users a freebie if they take a certain action, such as like, comment, or share.
Another way to use promotional products to your advantage is by encouraging customers and visitors to come during slow times; many consumers are willing to shift the timing of their trip to score free stuff.
Give some thought to what kinds of branded merchandise would represent your farm business in the way that you want. Then plan to incorporate swag into your other marketing strategies, like social media, farmers markets and other events, and even traditional advertising, and watch your customer base and overall sales grow.
Founded in 1989, Spiral Design is a full-service design firm specializing in design for marketing. Contact us today.