So the question that started this article came from and is continued from the previous article - Branding or just Tchotchke Promotional Junk?
We are here to say that yes they do! However, use them on a more personal level, get things that will either be very usefull for your customer (because you know them personally) or something that makes a strong impact with a marketing effort. Even better is to add some sort of value to working with you.
In the early days of my career in advertising, we used to have to do a lot of things manually instead of the way things are today with computers. I remember the film houses (a company that made film for advertising printing, a process that is long gone these days) used to send out rulers or transparent tip/info sheets that had things like Fraction to Decimal conversions to help measure exact details quickly and easily. The had line sizes and type point sizes to measure your fonts, leading and lines quickly. Some of them had Proofreader's Marks and other useful tools to help make my day easier and in the end provides the film house a better product with less mistakes.
My point is that these tools made my life easier and also helped me do better work. To this day 15+ years latter, I remmeber one of the companies that did this - Lancaster UltraGraphics. You see this tool was such a big part of my everyday life that I still remember the company and enjoyed working with them even though it has been probably been 12 years since I worked with them.
Granted, your industry may be a little different than the film house's, but there are surely things you can offer your customers/prospects.
The key is either being extreamly targeted like the tools I just mentioned or tying the item in with a mailer or marketing message.
About 7 years ago we did a campaign about "How to Grow your Business". This campaign was a direct mail campaign. We started out with a standard trifold mailer that went out to the masses. Then on a smaller scale we were going to add a packed box we designed & branded that included a pot, some soil, a seed packet, a water bottle, and a mini brochure taking about not only how to plant the seeds and grow the plant, but also how this ties in with their business. This whole package was highly brand to my company which made a strong impression. Even doing this on a small scale and maybe creating this package by hand for only a few targeted prospects is going to be much more effective than randomly throwing your items in a bag and not getting out and meeting every person at the networking event.
I hope this information was helpful. It just makes me sick to see people waste money on ineffective marketing. This is why we ask the question "Are you brand wise?". These people were not sadly.
This photo came from the people mentioned throughout this article and the last article.