ReThinking Promotional Product Top 10 Lists

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There are promotional products distributors and internet merchants who will tell you that they have a perfect list of hot promotional items for trade shows … sort of a one-size-fits-all list of products that will work for every situation. Do yourself a favor:

Run from those people.

The truth is, the perfect promotional product for your particular trade show situation depends on a lot of variables including but not limited to:
• your budget,
• your audience,
• the format of distribution,
• the product or service you offer,
• what you want to accomplish,  
• location of the tradeshow in relation to your business.

All list-peddlers want to do is separate you from your money.

Here’s what’s important to know about any top 10 list: What’s it based on? If the list is compiled by a manufacturer, it’s probably based on the top 10 items they sell to distributors. If the list is complied by an industry trade association its likely a list of the top items sold by distributors nationwide.

And that’s the first problem with top 10 lists, they are often compiled based on sales volume … not effectiveness.

For a top 10 list to be truly effective, it would have to be specific. For instance,
you’d want a top 10 list of promotional items for your industry based on R.O.I.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that type of list is available for your specific product or service. And let’s say the  #1 item is book matches. Fine. So you buy a boatload of book matches. The question remains: What do you do with them?

And that’s the second problem with top 10 lists: the list doesn’t tell you HOW to effectively utilize the wonderfully popular products.

And as for the list-peddlers? They focus on the products and speak in generalities such as, “This is a neat item”, “People will love this”, or “This is a VERY popular item”. But they don’t tell you how to effectively use the product to prospect or promote your product or service.

When faced with a list peddler, ask them this question, “How do I effectively use that item  to positively affect my prospecting ROI without simply giving it away?”

Their blank stare will speak volumes. If they finally do stammer out something along the lines of, “Well, you hand it out to those who come by your booth. Your name will stay in front of them until they’re ready to buy from you” …  run.

And here’s the third problem with top 10 lists: If you’re buying one of the top 10 most popular products, then others have probably bought the same product  … or else it wouldn’t be on the top 10 list. 

Top 10 lists sound like a good idea at first. But when you realize how they are created, you quickly realize that they are a sucker's bet. Next time a promotional product distributor says, "Well, here's a list of the top 10 most popular items", show them this article — then show them the door.

Michael Crooks owns Crooks Advertising Alliance, a creative strike-force specializing in creative problem-solving. An author, speaker and promotional markerter with international reach, Crooks has a unique ability to strip away the status quo and expose the obscure obvious.

The article you just read is from his soon to be released ebook, "ReThinking Trade Show Giveaways." Visit www.CrooksAdvertising.com and sign up for his newsletter, CrooksView Creative Digest and be notified first when the book is available. Contact Crooks though his website to inquire about presentation topics for your organization.

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