Online companies have a peculiar marketing niche. They can self-promote digitally so easily that perhaps buying promotional items to market their name seems fruitless. My experience proves the opposite is true. Just because a company depends on digital advertising and a digital store front doesn’t mean their customers aren’t real. Because customers are people, and people respond positively to gifts, online companies should invest in real promotional products as well as digital marketing.
Choosing what promotional item that best represents a digital company is a huge question that mostly depends on what the online company sells. Hopefully, this example will help provide a pattern useful to an online company marketing plan. This is an example marketing plan using the online company Status King.
Status King is a Facebook application that uses a status voting game to sell t-shirts. On their site, clever one-liner-type statuses are submitted, voted on, and three times a week the most popular status wins a t-shirt. All other visitors read and vote on the funny statuses and some buy a t-shirt with their favorite status and a profile photo of their choice. It is only a digital company there’s no retail space and all communication with the developers is through email. But the people who visit the game and buy the shirts are real. And Status King can use real promotional products to help their customers feel appreciated and want to promote the site.
Promotional Tip: Tie Promotion to Logo
Gifts are a universal way businesses show appreciation for their customers. A customer who receives a gift-even a promotional gift-feels happy inside and more likely to promote the company. The key to remember is: a promotional gift should connect the customer to the company in a memorable way. An obvious step is to look at the logo and/or business name and match it to a promotional gift.
The Status King logo is a cartoon-ish square with a smiley face and a crown hanging off the top corner. Because of the name and the logo, an ideal gift would be some type of crown.
Promotional Gift: Custom Stress Toy
Stress toys are inexpensive, infinitely customizable, and can be clever. I like the idea of a bright yellow stress-toy crown shipped with every t-shirt order. It’s memorable, it connects to the logo and business name, and it’s small enough to ship and be within a budget. In the imprint area, the Status King company could print something like: “Squeeze me, the Status King crown is within your grasp.” Whatever line they use, as I always advise, they need to include contact information on the promotion. Since this is a digital company, just the web address will do.
Promotional Gift: Food Shaped Treat
Food is ALWAYS an excellent promotional gift. I once had a toner recycling company that delivered a rice crispy treat in every new toner cartridge box. That kind of service gets remembered. I must admit though, I cannot remember the name of that company. I remember what they did, but their food promotion didn’t connect directly to their company, so I don’t remember their name. If Status King included a crown shaped rice crispy treat with every t-shirt-then that would get their name remembered better than the toner company and please the customer as well.
Promotional Gift: For Wearing on the Head
Something to wear makes for a very visible promotion, advertising wherever it’s worn. A simple foam crown would be a great promotion for Status King. It has a nice-sized imprint space and when worn on the head, it has excellent visibility. Perhaps the t-shirts shipped out around Halloween would be the time for a quick foam crown promotion–that would be the time people would most likely wear the crown. But even if the crown isn’t worn in public-customers would feel the warmth that comes from receiving a gift and be more likely to spread the news of the site to their friends.
Whether a company is made of bricks-and-mortar or digital real estate, its customers are real and appreciate the real extra mile of a promotional gift.