Marketing: Post-COVID-19: What Role Will Promotional Products Play In Marketing?

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Now that states have reopened and people are back to work, at least to some degree, business will be different, but how? Will client budgets be right-sized and constricted? What will events, such as trade shows, look like in our post-coronavirus world? To what extent will virtual communications opportunities remain? How will companies approach hiring practices when they begin to hire again? Will there be challenges relating to employee morale and productivity? Is social media going to have a hangover? Will businesses be eager to invest and spend money?

Here are a few predictions and ruminations that I hope help as we all dig out and get back to business.


This is the No. 1 question buyers ask: “What’s new?” “What’s hot?” Suppliers: now is the time for research and development. Give marketers answers to those questions that will generate excitement and sales. 


I think logos should be subordinate to great design and messaging that will better represent the meaning behind brands. I respect the need for consistent logo impressions, but most logos have a disconnect with meaning. To reinforce my point, would you prefer a mug with just a Starbucks logo or a mug with a beautiful design and a more subtle treatment of the Starbucks logo?
 


Home has been a new work domain for many of us for the past few months and may remain so for a while. Working from a bed with barking dogs and toddlers running around wearing superhero capes has become mainstream. So, what are the appropriate premium giveaways we can provide to work-from-home employees and customers to assist them in their home environments?
 


Masks will become the new hat. They are a trifecta power product. They are fashion. They deliver function and they are deeply connected to purpose. And we all know that the fifth “P” of marketing is “purpose.”


Businesses will spend less on travel this year and possibly next year too. Office footprints will shrink as some companies downsized their number of employees and others are allowed to work from home permanently. How can you redirect those savings into investments in marketing—and in great marketing programs that produce results?


With a slower return to face-to-face interaction at all levels, I predict there will be a resurgence of direct mail. You can help your client be successful by delivering on creativity, logistics and clever ideas—not lame giveaways or mail pieces with excess packaging that clog landfills.


Look around you and you will notice that directives play a bigger-than-ever role in reminders for physical distancing, washing/sanitizing hands and wearing a mask. We will be asked to play a growing role in health and safety. There are big opportunities here.


Branded gear that is easy to access will be critical to reinforcing the connection with customers, prospects and employees. Consider how to use 24/7 online storefronts through social media engagement, referral appreciation and affinity programs to remind buyers that your business cares about them and it wants to participate in helping them rebound.


I hope empathy will linger in boardrooms. Corporate compassion (the “human brand”) is essential in attracting and retaining talent and customers. Once inaccessible, consumers now have access to public insights through social media, comments and ubiquitous cell phone cameras. The business behind the marketing jingle has been exposed. Buyers now know what companies are really about and consumers vote with their dollars. Brands need the speed of trust and connection. So, marketing should align with who brands really are and what brands represent, or marketing will be a liability.

There must be a renewed focus on taking care of employees, being good to Mother Earth, supporting community and using brands for good. So, how can promotional products help marketing and human resources departments with recognition and retention efforts? There is a heap of opportunity in the answer.

So, now the question is, “Where to from here?” If we can anticipate the changes in business after the pandemic, the promotional products industry will thrive. It can prepare and prevent versus repair and repent. This creative industry is known for its ability to deliver long-lasting impressions, calls to action, to evoke emotion, to be a medium for connection, and to drive business and recognize those who deserve the bright light. We will adapt by creating new products, services and thinking to deliver marketing success. Now is the time for transformation.   

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Danny Rosin, CAS, is co- president of distributor Brand Fuel, Inc. in Morrisville, North Carolina. He is also co-founder of Band Together NC, board member for the Triangle Area American Marketing Association and The Table Raleigh, cofounder of PromoKitchen and PromoCares, and serves on the PPAI board of directors. 

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Comments (1)
Karon Long
July 1, 2020
I love this article. It's very insightful. In addition to the points listed above, you should research, explore and take advantage of all the low cost and no cost marketing options/strategies at your disposal. Things like completing and optimizing your LinkedIn profile. Make yourself accessible and grow your connections to engage with your prospective market and industry peers. Don't use it for sales banter. That is a cynical reason for connecting and a turn off. Take a genuine interest. Like and follow companies and people, note their achievements, enjoy their posts, join groups they are in, LISTEN and engage. To paraphrase a famous quote from the movie Field of dream if you build it they will come!
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