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Strictly Business: Giveaways--What's Hot, What's Not
Posted May 30, 2006 Print Version     Page 1of 1

One of my favorite words is lagniappe. Pronounced lan-yap, it's Creole for "a little extra," and it's a mighty handy word to know when you're down in New Orleans. "How about a lagniappe?" will invariably get you an extra scoop of bread pudding, a little more wine in your glass, or an extra raw oyster on your plate.
     Regardless of where you're located, lagniappes are good for your business, too. If you give your customers a little extra when their work is handed over to them, you'll get an extra measure of appreciation in return—and good customer relations is all about having your clients appreciate you more than the next guy.
     Here are a few suggestions for your own low-cost lagniappes.

Escape from the Pens! An imprinted pen is the world's most common giveaway—which is exactly why you should avoid giving them away. Yes, we all need them on a daily basis, but I have at least a hundred pens from a hundred different companies, and if yours is in my office somewhere, I most likely couldn't find it if I searched all day.

On the other hand, if I had a notepad with your name and phone number printed on it—or a pen holder that carried the same information—I could definitely put my hands on that quickly, which means I'd be more likely to call you.

There are hundreds of printers online who will print up sticky Post-it type notepads with your company name, logo, and phone number and/or email address. Do a search for custom-printed notepads and find the best deals for yourself. Ditto for pen holders.

One last word on pens; if you were a repeat customer, at some point I'd probably give you a very good ballpoint pen (Cross or equivalent) with our business name and phone number engraved on it.

Key Chains? Maybe. I also have more key chains than I can count or use—or would use, since most of them are of the cheap, plastic-rectangle variety. But there's one key chain that makes sense for videographers to use for giveaways. It's a mini-version of a film-type clapboard, and I was introduced to it at the 4EVER Group convention in January. Very nifty little item, since most everyone is enamored with the movie industry, and you can have these key chains imprinted with your logo, website address, and phone number for about a dollar each. Suppliers include www.casad.com and www.companycatalog.com.

Relevancy Counts! For years, we've tucked a store-bought bag of microwave popcorn into every video, photo, or film transfer that we produce. Why not go the extra step and hand out popcorn with your own logo and Web address printed right on the bag? Branders.com is just one of several resources who provide personalized microwave popcorn bags. These nifty lagniappes also run about a dollar each in quantity.

Want a Refill? Personalized coffee cups are cheap enough; the problem is they're not all that unusual and people generally have a good collection of "gimme cups" already in place. How about providing your prospects with a personalized coffee cup and a bag of custom-imprinted coffee? The coffee is a little more expensive, but I think it's a nice touch. You'll find several varieties of preprinted coffee bags at www.gccustomservices.com.

Free Archival DVD. Case Marsh of Marsh Video Productions has routinely given out free archive copies of client projects. "At one time," notes Case, "most of my colleagues scoffed at the idea—DVDs cost about $10 each then." On the archival disc, he prints, "DVD Video Archive Copy—This is a complimentary copy of your DVD. Please don't treat it as just another DVD to view. Store it in a safe place in case you need to copy it."

Case also prints the name of the program and his name and contact information on the disc, then puts it in a nice jewel case and seals it with tape. I think that last step is the real key because it puts the copy in the same perceived category as sealed software recovery programs—valuable but not to be disturbed unless it's absolutely necessary. Case's idea will cost you but a few pennies, but in the eyes of your customers, it's a real lagniappe.

An Attractive Idea. Most people use and appreciate refrigerator magnets. One popular variety these days is the magnetic business card. You can have your business card printed on magnetized plastic just about anywhere, including online at www.vistaprint.com, or you can order them at your local office supply store. You can also just buy pre-sized adhesive-backed business-card magnets and build your own. A nifty little idea and cheap enough.

Rulers Don't Rule. Rulers, squeeze balls, drink cozies, and those little plastic envelope openers provide questionable value to your clients and prospects. I recommend you consider something that's both useful and somewhat out-of-the-ordinary to set you apart from the competition.

For example, if you're considering a modest direct-mail campaign or want to give a small gift to your existing clients, put some thought into what might be an appropriate lagniappe; perhaps it's a small tape measure bearing your company imprint. You could send these to prospects (they're about $1.50 each in quantity) with a letter headlined, "Does your video presentation measure up to that of your competition?" That might just be the something extra that gets you the sale you need.

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