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Why Giving a Pen Away Still Works: The Effectiveness of Promotional Products

It’s easy today to get carried away with the more fashionable marketing strategies. Content marketing and social marketing being some of the latest techniques that people are finding effective. But what happens of the more traditional ways of promoting your business?

You’d expect that offline promotions would have taken a hit in the face of the growing presence of online marketing. Surprisingly though, they are as popular as ever, and do you know why? Promotional products work. Here are some of the reasons why you should be investing in promotional products to raise the profile of your business…

They open the lines of communication

Promotional products are a great way of opening the lines of communication with potential clients. This is down to reciprocation. When you give a gift to someone, it naturally promotes a feeling in that person that they should reciprocate your kind gesture some way. The product breaks the ice effectively and they feel obliged (in a good way) to listen to you and engage you in conversation. All that from something as simple as a pen or a notepad that can cost just pence!


They draw attention you, your company and your brand

At a trade show, it can be difficult to be noticed with so many competitors vying for the attention of potential customers and clients. In marketing, there is nothing more powerful than the word ‘FREE’, so why not get people’s attention by offering them some branded promotional merchandise? Promotional products can also work in your favour another way, away from the trade show booth. If you’re giving some really interesting items away, people will actively use them, and anyone else who sees them will be intrigued by them and ask about them. This can drive even more people to your business or website.

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Increase brand recognition and brand exposure

Conventional advertising is usually limited by time. Whether TV, print or online, there is usually a set period of time that an advert will run for. However, promotional products are a unique form of promotion that potentially could go on advertising your business for an unlimited amount of (13)

Simple, inexpensive items such as pens, notepads, key rings and USB sticks are very, very useful and will be gladly used by potential clients and customers over and over again. This repetition of use is key, as the secret to increasing brand recognition is the repeated exposure of name, logo and slogan. This repeated use will imprint your company and its message on your potential customer’s minds.


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When you review your marketing activity, don’t forget the more traditional types of raising your business’s profile such as promotional products. In an age dominated by online and social marketing, using promotional products as part of a multidisciplinary approach to marketing can set your company apart from your competitors, and keep you one step ahead. Unbeatable in terms of cost-effectiveness, can you afford not to use them?

5 Marketing Trends of 2015

As 2015 creeps ever nearer, we thought it would be a good idea to identify what will be; in our opinion, the five main marketing trends of 2015…


Mobile will begin to dominate

With the vast majority of people having a smartphone or tablet, the way we use the internet is changing. People don’t surf the web on large monitor screens anymore, preferring to do so on their much smaller phones and tablets on the move. Therefore, in terms of online marketing, strategies that were effective on large monitor screens are no longer as effective as before, because they don’t translate well to the smaller screens of tablets and mobiles. Your marketing strategies should reflect this. Priorities should be ensuring that your online advertising is relevant and accessible on smaller screens, and that your website is fully mobile responsive.


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Whichever market your business operates in, chances are it is going to get more competitive in 2015. This is where companies don’t just have to work harder to survive and thrive, they have to work smarter. Micro targeting is a way of delving into your business’s marketing metrics at a very specific and detailed level and identifying the most profitable niches to target. Effectively, you will be developing buyer personas for these niches, enabling your marketing activity to talk to them much more effectively.

Video advertising

Video advertising has been growing significantly in the last few years. One of the major reasons is its reach. Youtube reaches more young adults below the age of 34 than any other comparable medium, such as TV, radio or the printed media. Social is key to effective video advertising, and quality video content that is not an overt ‘advert’ can be shared across the globe.




Native advertising

Native advertising is also known as ‘organic advertising’ or ‘sponsored content’. Essentially they are adverts that are presented in formats designed specifically for the platform being used, taking advantage of the way that its users engage with it. Examples can be Twitter’s promoted tweets, Facebook’s suggested posts or the ads that appear between Flipboard pages. Expect to see more and more companies using this form of advertising.

Back to basics

As digital marketing begins to dominate with an almost limitless number of opportunities to market your business, it has left some more traditional forms of marketing somewhat redundant. However, this should be used to your advantage. There are some great deals in terms of offline advertising and marketing, and if used carefully and consistently, they can be a highly effective method of marketing your company. Used in conjunction with your online activity, using such things as promotional items and more traditional forms of advertising can distinguish and differentiate your company, however competitive the market.

Nobody knows exactly what will happen in terms of marketing in 2015, but by engaging with the trends above, it will ensure you are doing everything you can to stay ahead of the game and ahead of your competitors.


So Why Is Your Brand So Important? – 3 Rules To Live By

Having a good brand is crucial in modern business. It’s importance isn’t about getting your target customers to choose you over your competitors; branding is about getting your prospects to see your company as the only one that provides a solution to their problem or need. Branding is an immensely powerful business tool and if done well, will differentiate you from your competition and identify you as the clear and identifiable market leader.

Whether you are in the process of building a brand or you are managing an existing one, there are several fundamental rules you should always keep in mind to develop your brand and make it work for you.

1. Communicate Your Brand in Everything You Do

Your brand isn’t just a logo, a clever strap-line or wonderful new website design. Your brand is EVERYTHING. How you interact with your customers is your brand. How your employees dress at business functions is your brand. The state of the building your business is housed in is your brand. Branding is all encompassing and your company shouldn’t just have a brand, your company is a brand and it should live and breathe it. As well as being clever, clear and compelling, your brand should be consistent and applied to everything you and your company does.


2. Be Social and Engage

Branding is at its most effective when the brand actively engages with potential customers, and a good brand should have a strong and distinctive personality. This can be portrayed through active use of social media channels. Increase friends and followers by engaging with them and providing targeted, useful and interesting content.

Excellent offline engagement strategies include the clever use of promotional items. Instead of the usual pens or mugs, there are a variety of innovative and exciting items that can be used as part of your brand engagement strategy. Focus on items that sit with your brand’s message and have a unique and interesting quality. This can be a powerful way of communicating your brand to potential customers.

mug pen

3. Dare to be Different

Branding isn’t about being better than your competitors. Successful branding is about being different from them. Dare to be different! It’s amazing how in nearly every business sector, you will find scores of companies all citing the exact same reasons as to why they are different. In reality, all this is doing is reinforcing the customer’s image of them as all being the same, and making the  choice of who to use even more difficult. Dare to be different and get yourself noticed!

Never Forget How Powerful Your Brand Can Be

The power of branding and differentiation can be seen with the Stella Artois lager brand. Launched in the UK in 1976, it was a moderately successful brand with reasonable sales figures. Their 1982 rebrand however revolutionised their fortunes. More expensive than competitor’s drinks, Stella Artois embraced this with the slogan ‘Reassuringly Expensive’.


Differentiating their product at a stroke, they turned this negative into a positive. Customers bought the lager in their droves, as they now saw Stella Artois as a premium, quality product that was worth paying that little bit extra for. Three simple words saw Stella Artois become the UK’s most popular lager, a distinction it still holds to this day.

All the best,



Colour Psychology And How It Can Revolutionise Your Marketing Activity

Colour has enormous power. It can help sway our attitudes, our emotions, inspire us or even scare us. When we see colour, it sets off a chain reaction of events in our brain that ultimately results in the thyroid glands releasing hormones, causing fluctuations in emotions, mood and behaviour.

Various studies have shown that over 85% of all product assessments are largely to do with colour, with colour being over 80% of the reason people purchase a particular product over another. Colour, therefore, and the appreciation of its power should be at the core of you promotional and marketing strategy. Choose the right colour and you will get results.


The four core principles of using colour in marketing and promotions

Colour should be used:

  • The right way
  • At the right time
  • Targeting the right audience
  • For the right purpose

An example would be promotional items aimed at children that you find in cereal boxes or at fast food outlets. You will generally find that they will be bright, bold colours, such as reds, greens and oranges. You would not generally find promotional items aimed at children in brown or dark green.

Here are 3 tips involving colour that can revolutionise your marketing and promotional activity

Men and women like and dislike different colours

Women like:

  • Blue
  • Purple
  • Green

Men like:

  • Blue
  • Green
  • Black

Women dislike:

  • Orange
  • Grey
  • Brown

Men dislike:

  • Purple
  • Orange
  • Brown

It’s not surprising that men and women like and dislike different colours, but by choosing the right colour, you can immediately target a particular demographic. Choosing blue or green targets both men and women, whereas choosing purple for example will particularly appeal to women. Surprisingly, pink was not one of the most popular colours chosen by women.

Blue is the colour that cultivates trust


Blue is very popular, with good reason. Blue has demonstrable psychological effects. It promotes a subtle message of peace and serenity, as well as trustworthiness. This can be utilised in choosing colours for your promotional and marketing activity. Facebook’s main colour is blue. Their core values are trust and transparency. They didn’t choose the colour blue by accident!

Orange equals speed, haste and rapidity

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Orange is fun, but also creates a sense of haste and rapidity. Orange is loud, it’s active and it can also signify a feeling of togetherness. Several major brands use orange extensively, and it is easy to see why. TNT, the RAC and Easyjet all promote a sense of haste in their service. TNT will deliver your parcels faster, the RAC will get to you at the roadside quickly, and Easyjet will get you to your destination as quickly and as efficiently as possible. If your promoting a product or a service where speed is key, orange can be a great colour to choose.

Choosing the right colour is key in marketing and promotion. Choose the right colour, and it will do much of the work for you. Choose the wrong colour, and you can exclude whole sectors of society. Choose your colour carefully, and reap the rewards.



3 Reasons Why Branded Office Promotional Items Work

Corporate gifts are a great way of getting your brand out there and raising your company profile.

At SAPD we specialise in applying company branding to a wide range of top quality office products, from IT accessories to desk tidies and business card cases. Giving these items to clients as corporate gifts may seem like an unnecessary expense; yet here are three reasons why works when it comes to promoting your business and brand.

1. Excellent exposure for the brand logo

Most companies recognise the importance of a strong logo. It is a key visual representation of what the company stands for and is often the first thing that prospective clients will notice. A logo can make or break a business and a multi-billion pound industry has developed around the quest for that perfect visual tag which succinctly encapsulates brand identity.


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Once a company has put in the hard work developing the perfect logo, one of the most effective ways to achieve exposure for it is through office branding items. Whether you’re giving away mouse mats at a trade show, including free pens with application packs or adding complimentary post-it notes to a customer order, your branded corporate gifts will generally find their way on to a client’s desk. If you have carefully chosen a good quality product that will prove useful in their day-to-day work, you have guaranteed repeat brand exposure for the life of the corporate gift. Choosing a reputable promotional gift supplier to provide your branded office items ensures that your products last longer and consequently work harder for you.

2. An easy and affordable way to connect with your audience

Corporate branded desk items are a relatively inexpensive form of advertising that exposes your logo repeatedly throughout the working day and fosters familiarity with your branding. In most cases, corporate gifts are targeted at those who have expressed an interest in, or previously utilised, your product or service and are likely to require similar products or services in future.

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By offering a good quality branded gift at the point of enquiry or on completion of a deal, you are subtly ensuring your company’s continued presence in your client’s office. This means your company name will be, literally right under their nose the next time they consider a brand-relevant purchase.

3. Your most effective multi-taskers

Branded corporate gifts are the best multi-taskers in your client’s office. By serving a practical purpose in day-to-day work life they are working for your client. By being an ever-present instance of your logo they are subtly yet effectively working for you and raising your company profile.

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Investing time and money in great corporate gifts means that your brand can be continually promoted to your key clients in an unobtrusive manner, leaving you more time to focus on developing your offering and expanding your business.

Till next time,

Mark Gilmour


The History of Promotional Items And Why They Work

Promotional merchandise may seem like a recent phenomenon, but in fact businesses have been giving away promotional items for longer than you might think. The fact that this continues today is proof that it works.

Early promotional items

The first records of promotional giveaways refer to the commemorative buttons worn at the inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States in 1789. It is unclear whether these buttons were worn earlier to promote the campaign period or were simply worn to celebrate success.

blog george washington button

A more significant moment in marketing history was the production of book bags with the name of a shoe shop printed on them, which were given away to local school children. The ideas man behind this simple marketing project was the Ohio printer Jasper Meek, who convinced the shoe shop owner that this would bring in more business. With this, in 1886, the concept of promotional items was born. The industry had grown sufficiently by the early 1900s to prompt the establishment of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), a dedicated trade association.

In the early twentieth century promotional items were used to boost sales of breakfast cereal. A free toy was placed in the packet and kids couldn’t wait to find it hidden among the cornflakes. Parents succumbed to pester power and the toys proved to be an effective marketing tool for many years.


Free gifts would continue to be distributed, some with corporate branding others without, through the next few decades, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that there was a sudden explosion in demand for corporate gifts as we know them today.

Why do promotional gifts work?

Most people naturally enjoy receiving a free gift. Whether we can afford to buy the item ourselves seems to be irrelevant, hence the popularity of luxury “swag bags” among affluent celebrities. It’s just the joy of getting a freebie that counts. Whether the freebie is retained is determined primarily by its relevance to the recipient.

2704 Verve Basic - white dark blue 288 Studies have shown that over 80% of people decide whether to keep a promotional item based on its usefulness. The perceived value of the item matters far less. According to research by the PPAI, corporate branding on the freebie is a positive aspect with around 20 per cent of recipients retaining a gift precisely for the convenience of having the contact details to hand.

Out of sight out of mind

It’s a sad fact but true: companies are easily forgotten. It’s essential to make the connection with your audience and keep making it over and over again. It’s rather like parenting. Studies show that a child may need to hear the message to do something at least one hundred times before they will remember consistently without prompting. It’s the same with marketing. You may need to remind your customers many times before they will remember to use your services or products consistently without prompting. Just a small item can be enough to ensure that your company stays on your customer’s radar screen. Office branding items, such as those offered by SAPD, are ideal to support this connection process, with their constant presence on a work desk.

Freebie winners

The epitome of brand success has to be when simple promotional promotional items become collectible items. A large fizzy drinks company’s promotional items handed out at various Olympic events were snapped up, not just for refreshment purposes, but also to acquire the limited edition branded bottle. This is a sign of a winning brand. To make your brand a winner, contact the corporate branding experts at

The Value Of Trade Shows In Marketing Your Brand

It would be easy to imagine in today’s world of digital marketing that some of the older methods of raising brand awareness, such as attending trade shows, might now be obsolete. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Trade shows are the perfect opportunity for the face to face contact that customers want, and should form a key part of your marketing strategy, combined with other forms of marketing.

Digital versus face to face

Research has shown that face to face contact is a fundamental human need, with the potential to prolong our lifespan. Albertsons, a leading American supermarket chain, closed down all of its self-service checkouts on the basis of customers’ preference for human contact. Digital marketing has tremendous strengths, but offering a personal touch is not one of them. However useful techniques such as remarketing might be, they cannot fool customers into thinking that it is personal service. Customer acquisition is not always easy to achieve via digital marketing. The average visit to a web page lasts less than a minute. That’s not long to get your message across. Contrast that with the amount of time one of your representatives could spend talking to a customer at a trade show, and you can start to see the benefits.

In order to get the most from attending a trade show, some planning is required.

Do your research

The event organisers will have expected attendee demographics. Make sure these match your target market before booking your place. Trade shows can only work if they allow you to connect with the right audience.

Identify your goals for the trade show

It might be new sales leads, reinvigorating relationships with existing customers, or gathering customer preferences and contact data, or all of these. Remember to measure afterwards whether your goals were achieved.

Get ahead of the crowd

Explore options to have relevant corporate gifts included in the welcome pack which is handed out at the entrance to all attendees. This gets your brand in people’s minds first. Make sure you include directions to your stand so that you can follow through on customer contact.

Attract people to your stand

All your representatives should be dressed in corporate clothes, so they stand out from your competitors. Use clear and consistent corporate branding to draw people to your stall, both prospective new customers and current ones. Trade shows are a fantastic opportunity to re-engage with existing customers, reminding them of what you offer and new products and services. Providing simple refreshments is another way to entice people to your area, and branded sweets packets to take away are a great option.

Keep them there

Retain people at your stand by providing something for them to do. People love competitions and these give you a chance to keep customers at your stall while they complete an entry form – perhaps using a branded pen which they get to keep. If possible, give people a chance to try out your product, or have simple case studies to review, with visuals of services you provide. Above all, talk to your customers, and make them feel valued and special.

Provide something extra

If your budget allows, sponsor a special feature at the trade show, for example a chill out zone or a VIP area, perhaps with a luxury branded gift.


So the answer to the question do trade shows still work, is yes they certainly do. Digital marketing complements face to face marketing, it does not replace it. Salt & Pepper supply a vast range of high quality corporate gifts and events products, so if you want to get your company noticed at your next trade show head to

How Lumpy Mail Can Benefit Your Business

Companies these days need to think outside of the box when fighting for market share with competitors. The internet has forced competition among companies to become fierce, many trading on a global scale, and being one among thousands of other companies providing the same products and services. These companies need something that separates them from their competitors, and the regular marketing of letters and leaflets is nothing special or innovative.

Innovative and creative solutions

Corporate gifts are an excellent opportunity for companies to take advantage of innovative corporate branding. Increasing their visibility to their target audience and ensuring that they make a name for themselves. There are so many great ideas that can make an impact on the customer, ensuring your name is seen, known and remembered.

The advantage to lumpy mail, and what sets it apart from regular marketing materials is that it is a useful item which showcases your company name and logo. This is the case whether you choose to supply customers with branded umbrellas, key rings, clothing or mugs. Each item will bear your name and logo, further promoting the business to those that see it.

Improve visibility, leads and revenue

Lumpy mail creates excitement within the customer’s organisation. There is nothing more exciting than a package arriving and its promotional materials from a supplier, items that can be used daily and enjoyed. While the customer is excited, you are looking at the number of leads it can generate every single time they use the item you sent to them.

Another advantage to lumpy mail is that it’s not that expensive, only slightly more than what you would pay for a batch of leaflets to be printed by a professional printing company. The difference is that many of your competitors are printing leaflets, you are choosing a marketing campaign that sets you apart from the rest, makes your company name memorable and can offer you a good return on your investment.

Make an impact

Every company sets a budget aside for their online and offline marketing efforts. What many companies don’t realise is that these two are codependent. Using lumpy mail can improve your website traffic, which in turn increases your sales turn over.

When choosing lumpy mail items, you want to make that impact on the purchaser for that company, ensuring you are the name they think of when they need the products or services that you provide. Stay away from the boring marketing campaigns that are being adopted by every other company around the world, be creative, be innovative and think out of the box.
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Lumpy mail has been proven to work. These items are useful items which are used by people on a daily basis, the difference is that they bear your company name and logo, maybe even contact information. So every time the recipient uses the mug you sent them or signs something with the branded pen, it is seen, remembered and imprinted in their mind for when they need you.