Marketing: Put Your Name on Portable Items

A broad definition of a marketing sign may include any public display of your brand or marketing message. Your message can appear on quite a few items people carry around with them or even wear. These messages are just as legitimate as a message on a signboard. And they’re often a lot easier and cheaper to make.

The following sections share simple, small-scale ways to get your message across, including T-shirts and bags.

Try your hand at T-shirts

Your customers may think of a nice T-shirt as a gift for them, but you know the truth: That T-shirt is a body billboard! It’s amazing how many people are willing to go around with your advertising messages on their clothes (or even on their bodies — temporary tattoos are also a marketing option).

Don’t overlook this concept as a form of outdoor advertising. In fact, use it as much as you can. People happily display marketing messages if they like them.

You can easily implement this quality premium strategy by looking for good-quality T-shirts made of good-quality fabric and by having a real designer create your compelling, fresh design. (A cool design on your T-shirt is practically guaranteed to get your target audience to want the shirt.) Make sure you use an experienced, quality-conscious silk-screener to put that fine design on those good T-shirts.

To find companies that provide customized T-shirts, search for listings of silk-screening shops near you. (Although silk-screening shops screen onto many different materials and products, directories generally list these shops under the T-shirts heading.)

Marketing with bumper stickers

Don’t overlook bumper stickers and car-window stickers. If you make your stickers clever or unique enough, people eagerly seek them out so they can deface their nice new cars with them. But because people do, and because the cost of producing bumper stickers is very low, why not come up with an appealing design and make stickers available as giveaways on store counters or as bill stuffers?

Commercial or brand-oriented bumper stickers appeal to people who think the brand is so cool that it enhances the car — a hard thing to achieve. An alternative is to keep your brand identity small and star an appealing message instead. A clever joke, an inspiring quote, or something similar is appealing enough to get your message displayed.

You can even include a nice bumper sticker in a direct-mail piece, where that sticker can do double duty — acting as an incentive to get people to retain and read the mailing and giving you cheap outdoor advertising when they display the sticker on their vehicles. (Contact local print shops, sign makers, or T-shirt silk-screeners; any of these businesses can produce bumper stickers.)

Putting your name on bags

Department stores believe in the importance of shopping bags as an advertising medium. But many other businesses fail to take advantage of the fact that shoppers carry bags around shopping malls, sidewalks, subways, trains, and buses — giving messages on those bags high exposure.

To use bags effectively, you need to make them far easier to read and far more interesting than the average brown paper or white plastic shopping bag. You should also favor designs with comfortable carrying handles, even though they cost two or three times as much.

Why? Because if you do, people will carry the bags at their sides where they’re easy to read instead of hugging them to their chests or stowing them in someone else’s bag that has better handles.

A modern take is to order high-quality reusable shopping bags with your name and logo, plus attractive artwork or a message about green shopping, and give them to your customers. Reusable bags bring your message out shopping, not only in your store but in many others, time after time.

QR codes (those square versions of bar codes) belong on every bag, especially on reusable ones. When people scan the QR code with their phone, it links them to a web page offer or a website.

Any signage you can reach with your cellphone should include a QR code, which allows the sign to become a doorway into creatively interactive offers, interesting or useful content, and whatever else you think may be a good way to help your customers and engage them with your business or brand.

Stay dry (or shaded) with umbrellas

Similarly, umbrellas (available from premium companies) can broadcast your logo, name, and a short slogan or headline — although only in especially wet or overly sunny weather. The advantage of putting your logo on a high-quality umbrella is that people are likely to keep and use the umbrella for a long time.

Plus, umbrellas are a lot more businesslike than T-shirts, so they make good gifts when formality is called for. (A bank could offer a free umbrella to each person who adds a new account, for example.)

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