Bottom Line Up Front: We’re setting you up for success with pitching and implementing branded merchandise gift, reward, & incentive programs with our partner InkSoft. Not only are they a great way for you to increase your customers’ brand exposure, brand loyalty, and long-term sales — but they’ll also earn you some impressive selling power of your own.
It’s 2020. Consumers are shopping less, spending less, and getting out of the house less — which means their needs and behaviors have changed. Dramatically.
So how do your customers stay relevant? How do they keep their brand front of mind, foster their consumer relationships, and somehow manage to build out their brand identity to an even higher degree?
It all comes down to Branded Merchandise – Gift, Reward, and Incentive Programs.
Also known as? Free swag.
We’re partnering with our friends at InkSoft to give you everything you need to pitch, implement, and drive results with this limitless marketing strategy today. For the complete toolkit, including access to the insight-packed Webinar and the 100% free Marketing Kit (to help you pitch your customers), click here.
Or, keep reading for the brief strategy summary below — and check out your complete toolkit later. We’ll see you there.
Let’s Look At The Basics
Branded Merchandise programs are part of an umbrella marketing strategy that has been used by brands big and small for decades — because it works. The strategy? Show consumers that the brand remembers them, cares about them, and values them, and they’ll keep coming back. But more than just come back, they’ll also serve as the brand’s own little, organic, marketers.
Free swag — whether it’s used as a gift, a reward, or an incentive — is cheap to make and impactful to send. Maybe the t-shirt is worn 10 times over a six-month period, or maybe the pen is kept on the desk for years to come. In either case, the end-consumer is working to spread news of the brand to every person, physically or virtually, they come into contact with while the item is being worn or used.
But it’s not just the brand exposure that this strategy nails on the head — it’s the brand loyalty, and brand identity, it enhances too. With free branded swag, consumers feel like they’re part of an “in” crowd, and that sense of community actually increases the positive impression they have of the brand. (It’s common sense: people like to be included.) When they feel good about their relationship with a brand, they’ll keep coming back to it — and telling those around them about it too. That’s brand loyalty.
With brand identity, the free swag works as a continuance of the brand itself, not only reminding the brand’s audience that hey, we still exist, but also building out its values and principles at the same time. For instance, a brand that sends its first-time customers a free, environmentally-friendly branded tee from Threadfast Apparel with purchase shows them that the brand cares about the environment.
A brand that sends its customers a branded merchandise gift that’s ‘Made in the USA,’ on the other hand, dictates a strong sense of patriotism. When there’s alignment between brand values and consumer values, the overall relationship — and the subsequent sales — last longer.
Pro Tip: Search ‘Made in the USA’ on alphabroder and Prime Line to find American made products.
Branded Merchandise, Three Ways
There are three main programs inside the Branded Merchandise strategy: Gift Programs, Reward Programs, and Incentive Programs.
It’s easy to understand why free swag Gift Programs are so successful from a marketing standpoint: people fundamentally love gifts especially good ones like this water bottle from Columbia. We love feeling remembered, and we love feeling valued, so when brands use gifts to get consumers’ attention — it tends to work.
Some examples of effective Branded Merchandise Gift Programs:
- A swag gift sent to a new customer, right after their first purchase, to leave a positive impression (and mitigate buyers’ remorse).
- A swag gift sent to a stagnant customer — to remind them about the brand and pique their interest for another purchase.
- A swag gift sent to a segment of top customers, in order to say “Thank You” for their continued business. (This can be timed with the Holiday Season for extra impact.)
This Hanes Unisex 7.8 oz., Ecosmart 50/50 Pullover Hoodie – P170 is the type of swag your customers should be sending as gifts — and yes, it does matter — click here to find out more.
What do people like just as much as feeling valued? Feeling rewarded for their efforts — and knowing exactly when those rewards will come. The Branded Merchandise Reward Program hones in on that feeling exactly, giving consumers the boost they need to interact with the brand more. (Or at all.)
Some examples of effective Branded Merchandise Reward Programs:
- A free swag product when the customer reaches their 25th order, for example.
- A free swag product for accomplishing a certain milestone: being a part of the brand’s email community for 1 year. (Think: a five mask set in case.)
- A free swag product for purchasing an order that hit a certain threshold: order 100 t-shirts, get a bag (to carry them in) included.
Want to find out which popular brand used a Reward Program that went viral this year? Check it out here.
And then there’s the Incentive Program — the best way to get consumers to do something they otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to do. Ever had a customer that needed their audience to fill out a survey? Attend a virtual event? Share a social media post? With Branded Merchandise Incentive Programs, your customers are giving them a reason to actually do the thing they’re asking them to do. (Plus, there’s all of that brand exposure/loyalty/identity building in it for them, too.)
Some examples of effective Branded Merchandise Incentive Programs:
- A free branded keychain + a 5% off coupon for signing up to an email newsletter.
- A free branded hat for attending a virtual panel.
- Getting entered to win an Instagram contest (for branded merch) after sharing the brand’s post and tagging three friends.
Psst — Monster Energy Drinks has one of the most creative Incentive Programs we’ve seen. Get the details here.
How To Implement — and Pitch — The Programs
The best part of these Branded Merch Programs is that they’re truly painless to implement for your customers — so long as you have the right e-commerce technology, and blank apparel supplier, in your corner. That’s why we’re partnering with InkSoft to give you the complete rundown on how to effectively turn these marketing tactics into profitability — for you and your customers. (Because making your lives easier is always our primary focus.)
Our friends at InkSoft have broken down the full gamut of the Branded Merchandise strategy, from how to pitch it to your prospects to how to implement it for your customers, and they’ve even thrown in an entire marketing kit — 100% free. With that marketing kit, you’ll have the email, site, and social messaging you need to start persuading your customers that this strategy is the way to go.
But beyond just that full breakdown and marketing kit, InkSoft is also hosting an insight-packed Webinar — specifically on Branded Merchandise Programs — so that you can understand the basics, learn the techniques, and start exercising the tips seamlessly.
InkSoft and us here at alphabroder are here to arm you with the competitive advantage you need to stand out this year. A big chunk of that comes down to the marketing and sales knowledge you offer your customers. So push yourself to learn more — and grow more — today.
Get all of the information, including the breakdown, Webinar, and marketing kit, here.
Trust us: extraordinary results are waiting.
Laurie is part of the marketing team for the leading supplier in the industry, alphabroder. During her free time, Laurie likes to ride horses, sail and spend time with her husband and her two children. Reach her at Lprestine@alphabroder.com