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While you’re building your business, you may find yourself short on time and running fashionably late to get everything done. If you want to market your business while looking good, consider what branded merchandise can do for you. To help you get started, explore how two small businesses introduced merchandise into their offerings to grow brand recognition and create new revenue streams.

1. Construct a wear-worthy logo

A common misconception is that a logo doesn’t need much attention. Just throw one together, and you’re good to go, right? Not quite. A logo is an important representation of your business, and it’s often the first thing your customers see. It communicates a lot in an instant and is, therefore, one of the most vital things to get right. To get a top-notch logo, you can hire a professional or use a do-it-yourself service.

What worked for Shampooches Dog Grooming — a dog groomer in Alton, Illinois — was refreshing the logo it had been using for years. The original logo was eye-catching and colorful, but felt homegrown. The logo designers at Deluxe simplified the logo’s colors and refreshed the design to more accurately represent the salon’s personality. When it comes to printing merchandise, fewer colors and clean lines mean clearer and less expensive printing.

For Bluff City Outdoors — a bait and tackle shop in Alton — the major challenge was logo inconsistencies. For the shop to reap the benefits of a professional logo, it needed to have a memorable design that appeared the same everywhere. For example, using one logo on your storefront and another on your website creates confusion. The Deluxe logo team created a single, unified logo for Bluff City Outdoors, one that featured a unique typeface with small hooks instead of serifs.

Old logos (left) compared to new logos (right):

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2. Choose the right products for your business and industry

Promotional items help your business appear professional and get more attention for your brand. But they’re not one size fits all: different industries should consider different products that fit their customers’ needs. For example, financial advisers may want to sell portfolios or day planners, while breweries could consider offering pint glasses and coasters. When you created your logo, you already pondered the focus of your business and the value it provides to customers. Now use that same vision to come up with a product set that will be of value to your visitors.

Once Shampooches had a logo, it worked with Deluxe to explore which products were right to sell to its dog-owning customers. Branded T-shirts, dog toys and dog collars were a natural fit. Not only were these products commonly needed for the salon’s target market, but the dogs could serve as walking, wagging billboards, barking out brand recognition as they go.

Shampooches also printed greeting cards with their logo — although they don’t bring in revenue, they’re important as relationship builders. Shampooches gives cards to commemorate puppy’s first groom and to express sympathy when a beloved dog passes away.

In the case of Bluff City Outdoors, hoodies, keyring floats, coolers, can cozies and outdoor tents are useful to customers who love to spend time in the great outdoors. And, because they represent a new form of revenue, the business is better suited to be profitable in the slower season. Additionally, the store’s use of branded retail packaging extends the customer experience after the sale by sending each customer on his or her way with specially designed Bluff City Outdoors bag.

Examples of promotional products for small businesses:

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3. Create the space to sell

To sell well, you’ve got to find the right place to reach out. A retail store may better serve customers by placing branded products behind the counter so satisfied customers checking out can easily spot them. Likewise, an online retailer may have a special webpage for branded merchandise, and it may send an email campaign advertising its branded items.

Shampooches put its new, branded products in the front of the salon, right next to the other products it already offered. This way, the branded products blend effortlessly into other offerings, and customers who’ve had a great experience can purchase a collar to show off their canine’s good looks — and spread the word as to where the work was done.

4. Consider branded giveaways

You don’t always have to sell your merchandise; you can also give it away. Whether that means pens at a trade show or sunglasses at a summer fair, giveaways are an easy way to start a conversation with customers and help them remember you. Giveaways are often paired with store events, but not necessarily. You could mail a special discount or have a T-shirt giveaway when customers schedule an appointment.

Every business has specific challenges and opportunities when it comes to branding and promotion, but an important takeaway is to start with your logo. Find consistency and clarity in it so that, once you put it in front of customers, it’ll do the talking for you.

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