You may be planning to start a company, you may be a year or perhaps two years in and still consider your business as a start-up, either way the thought of branded gifts, merchandise or other promo items is likely to have crossed your mind. However, what to buy, whether to buy at all and what to do with it are all questions you will have faced as well as the all-important…is it worth it question. The truth is there are no hard and fast answers because every start-up is different but there are a few major points to consider so here is a useful guide for start ups on how to deal with branded merchandise.
Do You Need Any?
This is probably the first real question you should ask yourself or your start up team. Not where to get some, what to get but do you actually need any branded stuff. While there is no answer for this in this article, we can look at some points that may help you come to a decision.
Is there any budget? It is not advisable to start borrowing money at an early stage of the business for items that may well be non-essential and possibly even a bit ego based. Yes, branded merch is cool, and it makes the business feel real but not at the expense of financial stability.
Is there anyone to give it to? Often start-ups are still building their client base and if there are only one or two clients to give this stuff too it will probably just sit around gathering dust. Of course, if you have events booked then the passing public might be a good target so it could be worth it.
Is your branding done and dusted? Most start ups think they have it all sorted but ask them again in two years’ time and the logo may have changed, colours, styles and even the direction and type of business may have changed. Branded products may be best bought once things have settled down to save wasting money on something you don’t even want to give away in a few months because it doesn’t represent the brand properly.
Where to Order From?
If you have come to the decision that you are going to order some branded promotional gifts or products, then the next big questions is not what to get but where to get it from. Most good providers will be able to source anything you need so do not let the product type dictate the choice of company. Look for a UK based company you can actually speak to on the phone if you need too and look for a good quality well written website with some decent reviews. Sites like Action Promote have a real phone numbers, chat windows to help you and are clear about who they are.
It is really important to consider quality when thinking about where to source your products from. Whatever you order will be representing your brand so make it count. Going to a company that sells on low price may leave you a little red faced at best and looking like a cheap company at worst.
What to Order?
This is a question that is as unique to every sector and vertical as it is to every company within them. Different companies have different potential clients and customers and their tastes will vary and need to be catered for.
There are two ways to look at this decision
- Order products that you like, and you feel reflect the business owners and the ethos in the hope they dictate the type of client you want.
- Ignore your own choices and go for products the potential customer will like regardless of any personal feelings on them within the company.
Which path you choose is really down to the sort of company you are. If you are a business that wants to service a niche filled with people just like yourself then option 1 is a good idea. It could be baseball caps like the ones you like to wear and backpacks you will use every day. It might be high end notebooks and golf clothing that you would use, and your clients would too. However, you may be looking to reach an audience very different from yourself, you may be a young entrepreneur hoping to get a long list of older wealthier clients to offer services too and in that case choose the products they will like and you probably won’t.
Budget and More
There are of course other questions, but they are very specific to the business. Budget should be a big question and the answer is to go small for a start-up; it should be comfortable and not literally break the bank. Questions around will it work depend on your campaign goals. The general advice is consider branding an almost unmeasurable goal but one that can yield over time in a big way. Perhaps consider longer lasting products with regular use to maximise the branding aspect. Ultimately if you make nice things that your target customers like already in other guises then you are in with a good shot of them liking what you give them and maybe becoming a customer.