Resources & Blog


20 Minute Marketing episode #20

Resources & Blog

20 Minute Marketing episode #20

Getting Personal With Branded Merch

We're excited to announce that the latest episode of 20 Minute Marketing is now available on all major streaming platforms. If you want to listen to the full episode, then you can do so here. During the episode, we spoke with James Biggin from Steel City. You can probably guess the topic, since the episode is titled "getting personal with branded merch".

James provided a handful of insights on how using branded merch effectively can help businesses to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. Additionally, we discussed the content strategy that Steel City have adopted across their social channels and how this has impacted their success. A unique part of this episode is that it was also recorded in an independent coffee shop in Sheffield City Centre, so you may hear some occasional background noise. Here are some of the key takeaways that we learned from James...

Liam | Reach Interactive

What is branded merch and what role does it play in marketing?

James Biggin | Steel City

Branded merchandise is one of the many tactics that are available to marketing managers. We're very honest at Steel City about the fact that there are plenty of different options that are available to businesses. With that being said, I believe that merchandise has a very, very important part to play. It allows you to get that key information in front of a company's clients or prospects. By that, I mean the people that companies want to deal with and already dealing with.

James Biggin | Steel City

It is great for building brand exposure. By using company branding on an item, businesses can build awareness and repetition with prospects. This means that your brand is in front of that client when it is time to make key decisions.

James Biggin | Steel City

It is also great for businesses because it can be used to shows your contact information. That's important because it means that when somebody is making that key buying decision, you know that they they're considering your business. Other ways that you can use branded merch is by showcasing USPS or product and service information.

Liam | Reach Interactive

It's not just about pens and mugs, right?

James Biggin | Steel City

It's almost limitless of what we can source and supply, which is really the exciting part of what our business and sector does. Pens are obviously the biggest selling category by sector, without a doubt. And, you've mentioned mugs as well, they've grown significantly in popularly. As people have become more environmentally conscious, people are using reusable cups and taking them to coffee shops for refills.

James Biggin | Steel City

Essentially, brands must consider a product that fits with their message and is right for the audience that they are targeting. It's important to understand that it shouldn't be a rushed decision. At Steel City, we don't want to come across as a smash and grab provider. We like to take client ideas and combine them with ours so that their message is right. In my opinion, companies should be looking to make their brand stand out at every opportunity and I believe that branded merch can really help with that.

Liam | Reach Interactive

It's worth sharing a funny story about the role of branded merch at Reach. A few years ago, you guys sent us an item via direct mail. It was a spin-the-wheel item that allowed us to put employee names in different sections of the spinner. The team at Reach would use it regularly to decide who was taking out the rubbish or making the next coffee round. Then, things got interesting. Our Account Manager, Adam, agreed to let the person who the spinner landed on pick his next tattoo.

Liam | Reach Interactive

So, it's funny how just something as simple as a piece of cardboard with a spinner on has had an impact on our brand and the decisions that have happened at Reach. Our example aside, how can branded mech help businesses create a lasting impact on their clients like that spin-the-wheel did for us?

James Biggin | Steel City

That's an amazing example you gave because I remember coming to visit Reach and I was very surprised to hear about the impact that item had. It was sent out to make people think about how they could use it, so to find out that it impacted someone's tattoo is incredible.

James Biggin | Steel City

To answer your question, we know that promotional items work. If they're well thought out, then they are usually kept and used for a considerable time. And not only are they used; they also serve as a constant reminder. If your item is cleverly placed, then it will be seen by businesses when they are making buying decisions.

James Biggin | Steel City

Our industry trade body, the BPMA has got some powerful stats about merchandise that we champion. The first one I probably pinpoint is that 83% of people purchase products or services from a company that has provided them with an item or branded merchandise. That's powerful and significant.

James Biggin | Steel City

Another statistic is that 87% of people have said that they will keep a promotional item for longer than a year. So, if you've got your branding, or call to action, or products or service on that item then it will be in front of prospects for a considerable time. I'd would suggest that that would be significantly longer than most printed collateral. Additionally, a lot of other marketing tactics that people will use will not have that sort of longevity.

Liam | Reach Interactive

Let's say that a business is going to send out a branded item. Is it better for them to send that item before a prospect purchases, during the onboarding process, or once a client becomes loyal to your company?

James Biggin | Steel City

There isn't really a right or wrong time. I think that if you are going to try something then you should try to become familiar with how it works. The more accurate you are, the better the results. It's best if you establish regularities and become consistent. Lots of industries have different habits and, in those industries, individuals also have different habits. The buying decision and sales pipeline can be very different. Therefore, you must cover enough bases to give you the best opportunities.

James Biggin | Steel City

I would advise that you should try and keep a constant drip feed. For example, you could be handing out items at events, giving thank you gifts or providing Christmas presents. You're essentially trying to give your sales team the best chance to be remembered. Then, when prospects need you, they'll know exactly how to get in touch. So, like I said at the start of my answer, I think it's about covering as many bases as you possibly can, without overextending your budget too much.

Liam | Reach Interactive

This question is a fun one. What is the coolest branded merch idea that you've seen come to life?

James Biggin | Steel City

This one is tricky. I think some of the products that are incredible are when they are heavily engineered, but not without difficulty. You can make USBs, power banks and stress items in the shape of your own branding. And, I love it when brands have a mascot and you can recreate the mascot on to a branded merchandise item. This is cool because it means that you've got an emotional touchpoint.

Liam | Reach Interactive

If every item at Steel City was priced equally, which one would you recommend sending to a client, a partner, or a supplier, to make a big impact?

James Biggin | Steel City

I'd probably lean towards drinkware. To be honest, I think that anything to do with the environment is having a massive impact on brands. Aligning your brand with a positive message can have a great impact. Items such as water bottles help people to stay hydrated but also prevent single-use plastic. Additionally, travel mugs and carry away coffee cups can have a big impact.

Liam | Reach Interactive

I'll ask one final question. What is the biggest myth, in your opinion about branded merch?

James Biggin | Steel City

I would probably suggest that it relates back to budget and that people think that they can't afford to do it. People think that they can't afford to use merchandise within their marketing tactics. When in fact, they really can.

Cutomer Account manager
by Liam Quinn | Marketing Executive

Hi, I'm Liam, Marketing Executive at Reach Interactive. I have a background in international marketing and love branding, social media and seeing how companies communicate with their customers.

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