Promotional merchandise: Keeping your message real in the era of ‘fake news’

- June 16, 2018 2 MIN READ

Watch the TV news and you’ll realise there are many versions of the truth. In the new digital business world consumers also find it increasingly tricky to sort truth from fiction. With cynicism increasing, how can legitimate business people reduce public doubt about internet marketing claims?

One way to sidestep the growing confusion is investing a proportion of your budget in promotional merchandise. When you’re holding something in your hand it’s impossible not to form an opinion based on the practical and emotional impressions it generates. These perceptions, both good and bad, coalesce to form an overall attitude about the company providing the gift.

Unlike other forms of business communication which rely almost entirely on emotive levers to manipulate perceptions, promotional merchandise allows customers to reach their own conclusions about brand values, avoiding the doubts which arise these days in the world of ‘fake news’.

Why you must manage consumer perception

Billions of dollars are spent every day seeking to influence consumers, but the final results are often not what we planned. Branded product marketing has great potential to create positive perceptions, particularly in this day of digital communication. With so few people conducting face-to-face business meetings, something tangible has the potential to be more effective than ever.

How can an attractive, good quality product with practical value create a negative impression with the person using it? Adding your logo to something as simple as a notepad or keyring which you give to people with whom you do business is a way to avoid the negative filters which drive so much online discussion and debate.

Simple products are often the best

A recent example of overcoming consumer cynicism with branded merchandise is the way in which companies have successfully used physical products to reinforce brand claims of ‘eco-friendliness’. Many claim a clean, green reputation but there is rightly a great deal of doubt about these claims amongst consumers.

The simple act of offering business contacts or consumers a promotional product which is made from recycled materials is more convincing that any number of unsubstantiated advertising claims. In a marketing world where bluster and misinformation is commonplace the reality of promotional merchandise cannot be denied.

The temptation exists for all marketers to spend their budgets online. Online marketing is easy to manage, is simply analysed and assessed and scaled up or down in minutes. But keeping a foot in the ‘real’ world can leverage your online exposure. As we spend more time engaging with a screen and less engaging with each other the more a thoughtful, branded gift becomes a powerful way to build and maintain relationships.