Let's Get Real
Digital versus Promtional Advertising 3/1/2019 | Gregg Emmer, Marketing Matters
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Remember that great banner ad you saw yesterday afternoon? Neither do I. And nobody else does either! Yet money is streaming (pun intended) into digital media at an incredible rate. Predictions for 2019 (according to MoffettNathanson Research) are that digital media will see an 18% increase on top of a 21.9% increase in 2018. At the same time TV advertising is down 4%, newspapers down 7.1%, radio down 1%, magazines down 7% and the only segment with any growth is outdoor (billboards, transit, etc.) which saw a 2% increase.

It is interesting to note that the only advertising venue with durability - an ad that lasts for more than a few seconds, is outdoor which is the only one with an increase.

So where does promotional specialty advertising fit in a digital world? First, we have to understand the limited scope of digital advertising. Advertising generally has three distinct missions. D2C (direct to consumer, B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer). Digital is essentially “targeted broadcast” advertising to consumers. I know that sounds like an oxymoron because you can’t be targeted and broadcast too - but you can, and digital is. But there are important situations where digital fails.

B2B is one area digital can’t handle well or maybe at all. Sure businesses send email to other businesses, place banner ads on focused industry websites and some produce content/blogs to reach their market. But the nature of B2B sales is very different from consumer buying. Consumers go online and seek out information on things they already have decided to buy (65% of the time according to the most recent statistics) and may make a purchase very quickly. B2B is a different process.

Businesses generally make buying decisions much more slowly, with many considerations of potential benefits or problems. Messages that have durability have a much higher likelihood of having influence than yesterday’s banner ad.

Even in the rapidly changing world of commerce, a message delivered on a well selected promotional item - something real, will have a significant impact that a momentary digital (virtual) ad can’t touch.

The newest ad trend in digital is 10-second video ads. Research has shown that too many people will stop watching a 30-second ad before it completes. While that attention may increase the influence on the consumer is undoubtedly going to take a hit. But what if the 10-second ad says “click here for your free gift” and takes the consumer to an expanded message, website and a redemption form for the free gift - which you obviously sold to your client with their logo and messaging?

Promotional specialty advertising is the only media that does well as a stand-alone message delivery system or as a component in a multi-media campaign. The durability of the ad message is and always has been the key to our success in the advertising industry. The more you focus on message delivery, cost per impression (CPI) and absolute targeting (no waste), the more successful you will be.

If your focus is on products, prices, quotes, discounts, and terms - if you allow yourself to be just another source for stuff, 2019 might be a tough year for you. If you use derogatory terms that focus on the tools we use - swag, giveaways, freebies, and others, your clients will treat you and your work accordingly. If you think using those terms is modern, clever, campy, “in” - you are wrong. If you don’t respect our tools and our work neither will your client. And just because you find some misguided writers using those words in industry magazines - all that means is that their editors are not doing their job!

Every negative comment about our industry is directed towards the ‘promotional products’, not the highly efficient and economical work being accomplished. Our industry association is forever defending the industry but adds to the problem by calling itself a product association.

Never hesitate to ask a client how they decided on the product they are asking you to quote. Find out what they want to accomplish and build back into the transaction the unique value you provide.

In the August 2016 edition of this column, I suggested (not for the first time, however) that if you use the word ‘products’ in your business name that you might want to consider changing it. One reader of this column recently let me know her experience. She changed her business name and used that as an opportunity to explain to customers and prospects why. She emphasized the work she does not the tools she uses and the response has certainly impressed her. She told me that most conversations now start with “I want to ...” rather than “What’s your price ...”.

You have no competitive advantage if you sell products, but if you create excellent message delivery you will be an important partner for your clients.

Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at gemmer@kaeser-blair.com.

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