Uncovering a Prehistoric Promotional Product

Promoting Your Brand from the Inside

When my grandparents moved out of their house, my brother and I helped setup an estate sale. We were trying to decide how best to display the knick knacks from their 55 years under one roof. We came upon a real gem – a pen and letter opener kit from a time long forgotten.

In the bakelite plastic handles of the pen and letter opener was a worn, but recognizable inscription for a long-forgotten brand: Ovaltine. Ovaltine was a favorite malted milk drink from the 1930s and 1940s that was a fixture in many homes across the U.S.

ovaltine letter opener

Back to our story. What did I just discover? It was like uncovering prehistoric advertising.

Promotional products are the oldest form of marketing. The fact that this letter opener and pen still exist are proof that promotional marketing has been around forever, but also, can have a shelf life if they are the right quality and meet a timeless need.

The reason for the long-term effectiveness of promotional items points to centuries old cultural norms around the rules of reciprocity. If you give someone an item, the recipient feels compelled to give something back. Even though a promotional item isn’t given with that express intent, the compelled expectation is universal throughout the world.

As we look at ways to engage future business prospects, we can utilize this innate human tendency to provide a good quality, useful product that carries our brands forward. In my case, the letter opener and pen have carried into the 3rd generation.

What makes a promotional item right for your business? Here are a few suggestions:

4 Top Promotional Product Ideas

  • Give items that your target audience will use in the environment where decisions about using your products or services are made. If your target client is C-level executives, give them something they will use in their corporate offices, around their desk so your brand will be top of mind when a decision for your services is made. Golf-related items are exceptions of the amount of business transactions on the golf course.
  • Use promotional products to support a marketing message that differentiates your company. If your service is in the construction industry, provide a tool like a Leatherman. For a software company, you might consider a technology product that interacts with your computer like a USB flash drive or Bluetooth speaker.
  • Personalize them. We’ve mentioned this before at Think it Then ink it, we understand that people love to see products with their name or brand on them. It’s a little like having pictures of your kids on your desk. This could be from customized pens to congratulatory screen printed t-shirts for an award your client won.
  • Consider a product with a long shelf life. Something that differentiates you from everyone at a trade show or as a leave behind. Something that will make your investment worth it and create good feelings. Appreciation is a motivator for promotional clients too.

Uncovering the Ovaltine letter opener and pen at my grandparent’s house made me immediately associate good feelings to a brand I’ve never known. I don’t know if my grandparents were big Ovaltine fans, but do I know that the letter opener was well-loved by the amount of use it shows. Let’s create useful promotional products together. Who knows, the right product could last a lifetime.

About Us

Think it Then ink it is a promotional products and branded apparel company in Verona, WI. We build brands with logoed corporate, team, and event products from our vertically integrated design and fulfillment center. One of our unique capabilities is our specialized corporate branded stocking program that provides on-demand access to your customized products. Find out about our custom web apparel stores or available products and services at ThinkitTheninkit.com or call us at 608-845-5300.

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