Thursday, October 02, 2008

Grading Your Promo Items with the Three A’s--Mary Caelsto

Before I purchase a promo item for myself, I like to grade it. Just like in school, you want your promo items to get straight A’s, and there are three criteria by which I grade promo items.

Affordability. Appeal. Attraction.

Basically, these three things break down into their respective questions. Can I afford it? Does it catch a reader’s eye? Will it attract them to my sites and books?

There aren’t quick and easy answers to these questions, and in fact, these questions actually produce more questions. But that’s okay. The more questions you ask about your promotional items BEFORE you buy them, mean less missed opportunity and wasted money. So let’s start there, with the bottom line.

Asking yourself if you can afford a promotional item is only half of the equation. Sure, we all have a budget and we have to stick to it. But something can be cheap, and still not “affordable” in the sense that it isn’t giving you the most bang for your buck. For example, you can print off strips of paper with your name and url on them and wrap them around a bag of mini chocolate bars. I bet the investment for something like that would be under $10, so it’s definitely affordable. But, readers are going to rip off that strip of paper, eat the candy, and throw the wrapper—and your name and website address—away. I bet ten minutes later if you asked who had provided the candy, very few would be able to answer. So while such a promotional effort may be inexpensive and affordable to the author, in the end, it may have been a waste of time and money because it didn’t generate any website visits or sales.

The good news is that affordability goes hand in hand with the other A’s. So if you find something within your budget that meets your other criteria, then there’s a good chance it’s a winner.

Appeal simply means if someone sees your item, will she, or he, pick it up and look at it. In the example above, candy has good appeal. I mean, who doesn’t want free chocolate? The appeal level of homemade bookmarks, for example, versus professionally designed and printed ones is significantly less. So is the cost.

A good way to determine appeal would be to make a list of the things you pick up for promotion. Add to the list the things that you would like to receive. Then, you can start researching costs. If you have an item from an author and you like it, ask the author where she, or he, purchased the item. If you belong to a romance or marketing group, ask the members what kinds of promotional items make the biggest hit.

And no matter what promotional item you want it to attract visitors to your site and buyers to your book. This is where the chocolate bar example fails. One use, a moment’s pleasure, and it is gone. Anything that lasts beyond one use, whether it’s a bookmark, business card, pen, or lip balm, is going to give you more chances to attract that reader then something that is a throw-away item. Sure, having your name imprinted on condom wrappers might be fun for an erotic romance author, but in the heat of the moment, the wrapper is going to be torn and discarded. There’s a good chance your name won’t be seen at all.

However attraction can be a double-edged sword. A stuffed animal can be adorable and entice people to pick it up, but if it just sits on a shelf, it may not be the best promo item to choose. A candy dish filled with candy can receive a high grade on the attraction scale. But, if the reader can take your label off of it and use it without your information, then it’s just another candy bar in disguise.

Finding the right balance between affordability, attraction, and appeal doesn’t have to be difficult. Sure, it may take some thought and planning. In the end, you’ll have something that you can use effectively to promote your name and hopefully win some sales.

About the Author
Mary started Jupiter Gardens Promotions, a division of Jupiter Gardens, LLC because she wanted promotional items without paying a high price. When she discovered her hidden talents for making bath and body products, she decided to share them with others. After all, bath and body products receive three A’s. They’re affordable. They appeal to consumers. And, the more times someone uses the item, the more times he, or she, will see your name. If the consumer can attach your name (in their mind) with a lovely scent and product, all the better! Visit the JG Promotions store at or visit the JG Promotions website using the address above to see all the product offerings from Jupiter Gardens Promotions…nurturing your inner worlds by taking the worry out of promotional items.


Angie said...

Good post. Sometimes just having a framework in which to organize your thoughts about something is a huge help.


Mary Caelsto said...

Thanks, Angie! I tend to think long and hard about my promo items and crunch numbers quite a bit. I've discovered some awesome deals that way, and figured out that some deals, well...aren't so awesome. LOL!!! :)