Promotional Items: The Good and Bad

I recently returned from the ACFW conference held in Indianapolis. This is an annual gathering of the largest membered group of Christian fiction authors. It’s a great time to connect with fellow writers and hope some of the writing genius from authors like Dan Walsh, Tosca Lee, James Scott Bell, and Frank Peretti infuses life into my writing cells.

Promo1Most conferences have a “freebie” table where writers are allowed to leave promotional items to get the word out about their product. This year I thought I’d give you my take on them. The good and the bad.

Think of a promotional item with a goal in mind. What do you want it to do for you? Consider the return on your investment and what you hope to achieve. I think most people view a promotional item as a chance for exposure. Most marketing types will tell you it takes six-ten exposures for someone to buy your product. So a good promotional item is something a person will keep and look at over and over.

I’ve determined that giving away bookmarks is not a good idea. EVERY author/writer does this and last year when I had bookmarks I ended up taking most of them home. They are not unusual enough anymore and with the advent of e-readers I think many do not need them anymore either.

One way bookmarks could work is if you are a very popular, well-known author and they are signed. But, sigh, that is not me. Yet.

RedwoodNewsletterQRMy goal was to get people to subscribe to my forthcoming newsletter. I gave out full-size Hershey Bars and packs of gum with the stickers you see on the first photo. The sticker includes this QR code that links to a newsletter sign-up form where I’m giving away a prize worth over $75.00. It includes all three books of my Bloodline trilogy, a $25.00 Amazon gift card, a $25.00 Starbucks gift card and some fun Halloween items (yes, this is still happening, so sign up!) and goes on until October 1st, 2013.

I brought 108 chocolate bars (okay, I did eat ONE) and 36 packs of gum. I didn’t have to bring any home, which was great. People were interested enough to pick them up but, thus far, I’ve only gotten about six new newsletter subscribers, making it a very expensive venture with few results. Perhaps the QR code is not intuitive for people yet.

Other promotional items and my thoughts.

promo2 promo3 promo4 promo5 promo6 promo71. Luggage Tag: This is a good idea because not only do you use it but also other people along the way can see it.

2. Small button flashlights for key chains: I’m iffy on these. The writing on one is hard to read and the light is weak. They are fun to have but I don’t know if I would use them.

3. Ribbon bookmark: I’m personally not a fan. I am a no-wrinkle-on-the-pages kind of girl and putting a large plastic paper clip on pages would wrinkle them. Plus, it was not very intuitive to me what it was at first because it was attached to a business card.

4. Pack of sticky notes: This was given out by a publisher. Nice, as most authors love office supplies.

5. A bag of tea: This one I liked because I’m a tea lover. I think this would also be more economical than what I did, as mine ran about 50-60 cents apiece. I think it’s a good tie-in for some genres (romance, cozy mystery, historical set in England) but not so much for suspense. It might not work for my books.

6. Grippie lid opener: Someone can post in the comments what the real name of this is. I like this one for its durability. It’s something I’ll keep on hand and use and therefore will expose me to this author’s name multiple times.

7. Small composition notebook: This one I’m actually giving a gold star and I’ll tell you why. I still have the one from last year in my purse. Every time I pull it out, I see that author’s name. I actually looked into doing this myself but they run (at the cheapest) about $1.00 apiece and that was too spendy for me.

What about you? Which promotional items do you like? Which do you think you’d actually pick up and keep? What have you used as a promotional item and did you appreciate the return on investment?

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