The founders and fearless leaders of Southwest Solutions started out in this industry 40 years ago as manufacturers. Things were a little different in 1970-whatever for Peter and Tammy, creating ceramic goods with logos on them. Everybody cracked open beers at 3 or 4 on a Friday, and paper catalogs were a cornerstone of business. After the post-9/11 recession hit, Peter & Tammy were forced to close their business after 30 years.
Times had officially changed. They both went off and got jobs marketing themselves individually as pool/RV/trash service/freight service/mortgage/you-name-it salespeople, and in 2014, they decided to re-enter the promotional products industry on a different side of the line (as distributors, not manufacturers), full of brand-new perspective from many industries and a host of wizened business experience.
What did they discover? Well, beyond the obvious things like Having-a-Nice-Website-Is-Necessary, and Yes-We-All-Email-Now, and People-Don’t-Really-Do-Drugs-At-Work-Anymore they discovered that *actually*, not much has changed. The allure of the promotional product remained the same. Sure, tastes have shifted. What appealed to a consumer in the 80’s is not the same as what excites buyers & decision makers today. But why promotional products work hasn’t changed a bit.
First off, for the uninitiated who might be wondering “what even are promotional products?”, we’d like to welcome you! You’ve come to the right place. Promo products are useful/fun/memorable, tangible items imprinted with an advertiser’s name, logo, or message, designed to increase brand awareness among consumers. They are a marketing tool that works powerfully in concert with other traditional advertising techniques (think radio, tv, print media, etc.), by allowing a brand to connect with consumers by engaging their sense of touch. Promotional products are practically the only form of advertising that allows people to interact with a brand on a physical level – which creates a memorable brand experience.
Promotional marketing materials happen on so many different levels that sometimes you don’t even know they’re right in front of you. Everyone, of course, can quickly imagine the “trade show swag bag” – the tote bag full of all the different cheap giveaways from all the vendors at the expo. Of course there ain’t nothin’ wrong with a good tradeshow giveaway, though as you get to know us you’ll quickly learn we’re not about the “give me the cheapest item you have” approach – we will always try to steer you toward quality over quantity because in the end it’s money better spent (value over price!).
But the cute t-shirts and water bottles in your favorite local coffee shop or gym merch stores? Promo. The koozies and race medals from that 5K you powered through? Promo. That mask your healthcare provider sent out at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic? Promo (how many people did you see wearing that lime green Humana mask?). The yellow Livestrong bracelets from back in the day when Lance Armstrong was a big deal? You guessed it, promo. The coffee cups with the cute new designs Starbucks releases seasonally? Promo! The notebook you receive to take all your new-hire training notes in at your new job? You’ll never guess. Jk, of course you will.
It’s all promotional products. The pervasiveness of promotional products is possibly one of the most impressive aspects about them. Did you know that 82% of people say they own at least 1 promotional product?
When I, Vera, joined this business in 2018, I thought (and as a Partner in this company I’m definitely embarrassed to admit this now): “who wants to just waste money on cheap crap people will throw away immediately?”. Well, the fact that my conception of promotional products was that limited only meant that I wasn’t paying attention. Some of the best promo products are the ones that people want to keep without even realizing they’re being advertised to. If I had thought harder about it, I would have realized that my most-used grocery tote bag was from Scholastic Book Fairs. Three out of the five chip clips I covet (which always seem to disappear when I need them most) have logos on them. At any given moment there are at least 2 logoed magnets on my refrigerator, my softest t-shirt was from my preferred farmer’s market booth at the Waco Farmers Market, and I’ve had a Lululemon sticker on my water bottle for 4 years.
If you’re in the same boat I was in – the USS Skeptic – then you need us. Who is your audience? What is your message? With those questions answered, and our deep knowledge of the hundreds of thousands of options out there (not to mention our picky opinions & wise roots), you’re well on your way to understanding how promotional products can build your brand, augment your marketing program, and help your business. Done right – done with us – promotional marketing is emotional marketing, because when the product comes alive in the hearts and minds of both you and your audience, it’s no wonder that 88% of promo recipients remember the name of the advertiser on the products. 85% of the recipients do business with the advertiser on the product. 83% of people like receiving them. Because Promotional Products Work.