New Relic, San Francisco headquartered company, went from a start-up to an IPO with 17,000+ paid business accounts currently over the globe, and a 50+% share of Fortune 100 clients, since its inception in 2008 generating over 75K+ low-cost leads. This article covers the basics of creating a killer lead generation strategy with better ROI than most lead-gen channels.

What you will learn in this article:

  • How to build an effective brand recall without spending heavily on print, TV or digital media
  • How New Relic got 75K+ leads in 1 & 1/2 years and scaled to IPO
  • How to craft a similar strategy for your company and key things you should keep in mind

First, let’s talk about building a cost-effective brand recall

As far as the Travel & Tours Industry in India is concerned, Kesari Tours rules the roost, being around for 34 years and generally being the largest tour operator throughout India.

But, truth be told, their advertising isn’t specifically restricted to hammering me with endless TV commercials, large billboards, or even a whole serving of Ads on Google (Sure, they may do it, especially in the holiday season with smartly placed TV sponsorships, a newspaper spot reserved to discuss past tour experiences, and so on.)

However, the real marketing is actually done by their customers; they really know how to put their customers to work and do most of the advertising for them. That’s how you stick around for 34 years and retain your numero uno position!

How do they do it and how have they built a sort of brand omnipresence without having to muscle their way through a big ad budget?

Here’s my answer…

A few weeks ago, I was about to fly to Indore from Mumbai. In the Airport sitting area, I was seated next to this senior gentleman. Now, the really interesting thing is that he was a walking-talking ad for Kesari Tours.

Walking-Talking Ad

This gentleman had a really functional travel bag, neatly designed  (Also called as a duffel stroller bag). Not only it looked convenient for a man his age to carry around, but it was splashed with a gigantic ‘Kesari Tours & Travels’ logo, one you could easily spot from at least 30 Feet away. He had a pouch sticking on his waist for his phone/wallet and a cap sitting on his head.

Create Lead Generation Machine
Kesari Tours Stroller Bag & Cap

Guess what? All of them were generously splashed with the ‘Kesari’ Logo. Here I was in the middle of the airport, with endless billboards advertising travel luggage and holiday packages for various brands (on a costly budget, you bet), and here is this man; advertising the ‘Kesari’ logo for free wherever he went.

It made quite an impact on me, not to mention the impact Kesari Tours made on their intended demographic - 'The Travellers’ and a heck lot of them!

This is why, today, I am going to write on the impact smartly-created promotional products and gifts can make on your brand and how it can boost your advertising ROI.

The numbers and results are staggering!


Hard data reveals promotional products, be it gifts, brand merchandise, etc. beat other forms of advertising by a large margin as far as the immediate costs are concerned and the impact they create!

The Advertising Specialty Institute’s (ASI) 2016 massive survey, with over 100,000 consumers across major cities of the world, provides pointed, highly specific results around the value of promotional products.

The survey goes deep into finding the reach of these promotional products and their influence on buying decisions as well as consumers’ perceptions of the advertiser.

Here are some quick findings -

* More than 40% of recipients wanted environmentally-friendly promotional products.

* The most owned promotional products are T-shirts (58% amongst surveyed recipients), followed by drink-ware (53%), writing instruments and outerwear (50% each). In fact, all common promotional products have strong ownership.

* If you are looking to create a good opinion about yourself, USB drives are your best bet in cities and performance wear in rural areas.

And the best part? These promotional items were sometimes used for over an average span of 12 months!

Every second you show an Ad on TV costs you money. Whereas a promotional product advertises your brand as long as it lasts... free of cost!

Bags and Wearables can make the most impressions because they are most frequently used in public where they are seen by many people.

Okay, what about the costs compared to other forms of advertising?

As if the above is not good news enough, promotional products cost the least when it comes to cost per impression compared to other forms of advertising at just 0.7 cents (Newspapers - 3.2 cents, Prime-Time TV - 2.5 cents and so on (1 Cent equals around 69.20 Paise in Indian Currency at the time of publishing this post).

Promotional products are way more targeted as they serve prospects and customers in the same geographic areas the brand operates in.

This kind of targeting is generally very hard to achieve with other forms of mass marketing.

How cool is that?!

Oh, and when was the last time you took a big billboard out on a ride with you?

The gentleman I talked about earlier and thousands of Kesari travelers are doing just that, they are gladly taking Kesari's advertisements out on a ride with them without being paid to do so.

Is there anything cooler than your customers advertising and promoting your brand?

This is more than enough highly specific and relevant advertising your brand could possibly ask for.

Is it really possible to measure the impact of Giveaways on your ROI?

If I haven’t made my point enough with the above statistics, modern advertising technology does offer a way to calculate the exact ROI of promotional giveaways and contests.

Here’s a quick example chart I gathered from one of my mentors Isaac Rudansky at AdVenture Media. The below chart demonstrates, using some assumptions, the ROI on a Facebook Chatbot Giveaway Campaign. The increase in CTR and Engagement Rate is assumed after taking into account past experiences with Chatbot Campaigns with Giveaways.

Marketing Strategy
The ROI on a Facebook Chatbot Giveaway Campaign

While the real ROI is impossible to calculate (it’s practically limitless), I included the above chart just to demonstrate it is entirely possible to calculate the ROI and find out if it is positively affecting your bottom-line or not.

Now, let’s talk about New Relic and its killer viral marketing strategy

In January 2012, New Relic, a real-time analytics platform wanted its target group to sign up for a free trial of the platform. To tempt people to sign up for the trial, they offered an incentive in the form of custom T-shirts. Within the time frame of one and a half years, they shipped more than 75,000 T-shirts all over the globe!

Promotional Product Strategy
New Relic's Free T-Shirt for Developers

Barring a few cases of fraud from people looking to get more shirts than the restricted 1 shirt per user, what would 70,000+ new leads over 1 and 1/2 years do to your business? New Relic went from a start-up to an IPO with 17,000+ paid business accounts currently over the globe, and a 50+% share of Fortune 100 clients, since its inception in 2008.

It’s 2019, and the good news is: Doing promotional gifting and merchandise still isn’t advertisers’ “most favoured” medium. You know what this means? It still hasn’t been ruined by marketers and you can take incredible advantage if you follow the correct strategy to execute this.

How to craft an effective promotional product strategy

Just like any advertising channel; it’s not wise to just jump into without building a clear strategy. I have put down key points you should consider before spending on promotional products.

#1 Create Products relevant to your industry

Like in the case of Kesari Tours & Travels, a durable and useful luggage bag, not only conveniences customers when they are actually traveling on a Kesari tour, but also advertises to a highly relevant audience - other tourists!

Nothing screams social proof as a customer showing off merchandise with your brand logo on it

Let your Promotional Merchandise and Products do all the talking for you. In the case of New Relic, as it turns out, the T-Shirt design and customization was highly enticing to their target audience of Coders.

#2 Create Useful Products

As demonstrated in the above discussed ASI 2016 survey, when it comes to your prospects, the usefulness of your promotional merchandise is a key trait that trumps all other traits. If your promotional products creatively solve some challenge or issue your prospects/customers face, then your products are sure to be used and preserved.

In the case of Kesari Tours, the usefulness was one of the key traits with all of their merchandise, be it the travel bag, the cap, or the waist pouch.

In the case of New Relic, their customized T-Shirts helped their target Audiences feel special and celebrate their own identity – one of being a “Data Nerd”.

#3 Create Products High in Quality

Your promotional products, merchandise, and gifts speak volumes about the kind of brand you are! I know if I purchase a pair of Nike shoes, they will last. I know they will fit me just right, and provide a degree of comfort most other cheap brands may not.

The same with your promotional products! Building durable, lasting products screams your brand is durable and lasting. When you give away cheap merchandise, the brand story you are generally selling is one of, “Hey, we are really cheap, don’t take ourselves too seriously, believe in cheap publicity, and don't think very highly of you, the customer either.”

Whereas, with quality promotional merchandise, the brand story you are telling is one of, “Hey, we are a high-quality, professional brand, believe in ourselves, don't believe in offering cheap merchandise, and wish to build a lasting bond with you, the customer."

It almost conveys you are not advertising anything (even though you are), because your products are not the cheap kind your customers are almost always used to when it comes to promotional items.

The choice is yours.

Gifting cheap merchandise is just bad news for your brand publicity. Don’t do it!

#4 Create Products, Not Advertisements

As consumers grow more and more sophisticated, nobody really likes showing off freely gotten promotional merchandise or products selling a brand logo, unless of course, your brand logo itself is a selling point, like in the case of Nike shoes.

Many of the times, it is better to entirely do away with the brand logo, use a classy logo design, or just use a really tiny-sized logo on the gifting item. But remember, not all size fits all; what works for Kesari Tours may not work for you, the audience profile, placement and product make a big difference.

The brand logo on the product should enhance the product experience. The same is true the other way around – the product should work to enhance brand perception.

Adding a human touch to your promotional gifts and souvenirs can go a long way in building a lasting connection between you and your audiences.

Likewise, great packaging on the promotional gift items, too, goes a long way in enhancing customer experience and perceived value of your gift item.

In Summary

Promotional gifts can be a cost-effective marketing and advertising tool creating leads and brand awareness at scale for you. It’s important that you remember that product design goes a long way in how the product is perceived and received. There is a certain level of vanity involved in the gifting industry, and it’s generally better when the promotional merchandise is not just useful, high in quality, and durable, but also beautifully designed and tasteful!

At 5by7, we are obsessed about creating cool, useful promotional products where you can put your logo or brand. You can order online here or speak to us at +91 98101 00308.



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