Bathmat Marketing
Branded products that are relevant, memorable and/or useful have an undeniably long shelf life. 10/14/2019 | Bill Petrie, Petrie's Perspective
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Like a lot of kids growing up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the vast majority of family vacations were taken by car. More specifically, in my father’s 1978 Cadillac Coupe De Ville. In that whale of a vehicle we traversed the entire state of Texas, commuted between Dallas and Chicago more times that I can remember, and took it to both coasts. When traveling long distance by car, there are usually a few stops where a stay in a hotel is mandatory. In the case of the Petrie family, that hotel was always a Holiday Inn.

I recall those stays vividly not because the rooms were amazing, or the food was anything to write home about. No, those stays have stuck with me because I grew up in a household where the bathmat I used every day formerly resided in that same mid-scale hotel chain. In other words, my parents stole a hotel towel and repurposed it for my entire childhood.

Why did my parents liberate bathmats from hotels? The answer is simple: it was useful. To this day, I still remember that towel, the brand of the hotel, and the odd square-like designs on it. The number of impressions both the towel and the brand has had on me must number in the thousands and I don't think there is a marketing executive in the world that would say the cost of the lost towel exceeds the strength of that brand connection.

Branded products that are relevant, memorable and/or useful have an undeniably long shelf life. Like many in the promotional products industry, I attend a fair amount of trade shows every year. The irony that the trade shows I attend center around the merchandise given out at other trade shows is not lost on me. Even so, there is one common sight at all trade shows: there are always a few booths that seem to be more crowded – and more talked about – than any of the others.

The buzz and energy created by an overly busy trade show booth is undeniable, and usually results in more than a bit of jealously among other exhibitors. Invariably those with less busy spaces will go and see what all the commotion is all about. As the busy booth is approached, it's easy to see what all the excitement is about: a cool, useful, or memorable promotional product.

These are the products that won't find the bottom of a hotel room trash can as a casualty of a full suitcase. Rather, they will be kept and used for months and, in some cases, years. For the company that made a modest investment in a memorable product for the show, their brand will be top of mind for the same amount of time. As promotional marketing professionals, it’s our job to help our clients be the busiest booth at their next trade show. In other words, we need to help them win the trade show popularity contest and have their promotional products kept by their intended audience.

Next time a client asks for a quote on the same pens given out at the last dozen trade shows they attended, take the time to understand the budget, the target audience, and what the client wants that target audience to do as a result of being at their trade show booth. By doing so, you can not only help them draw more of their target audience to their booth, but you can put their brand in the right hands for years to come.

Remember, when your client provides relevant, memorable, and/or useful branded products to their audience, they keep their brand at the forefront for many months after the event. By collaborating and joint venturing with your client, you can create merchandise that not only draws people to their booth but moves their audience to action. 

Bill is president of PromoCorner, a digital marketing, media, and advertising agency, and has over 19 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at

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