Today's blog post comes from Tom Killingsworth, owner of Hadley Promotions in Phoenix, Arizona. Visit him on LinkedIn, or email him questions at Thanks, Tom!

Tom KillingsworthRehab therapists should continually market their services to stay top-of-mind with current and potential customers as well as referring physicians. One way to do so is through promotional marketing. As the owner of a company that provides imprinted products and branded merchandise and apparel (with many customers who are service providers or work in medical facilities), I’ve seen the value of promotional marketing materials first-hand. I’m not alone in my observations, though. According to recent Promotional Products Association International studies, promotional products have the highest advertising recall (memory) rate, more so than television, print, and online advertising. Furthermore, 73% of people use a promotional product at least once a week; 43% use a promotional product at least once a day; and 58% will keep a promotional product for one to four years. In short, using promotional products is a very effective and targeted advertising medium for any business.

Business development marketing—as opposed to special event promotions—is the most cost-effective way to use promotional products. Here are my tips for getting started:

1.) Put consultants to work to find the right item for you.

Contact a few promotional vendors or your consultant if you have one, and ask them to provide you with a few product ideas. Consultants attend trade shows, have knowledge of all the new items, and have access to current specials. They’re there to help you choose the promotional items that meet your practice’s marketing needs, so make sure you provide as much information as possible about the type of marketing you’re looking to do. Also, while you’re speaking with a consultant, ask him or her to help you determine quantity and budget ($3–$5 per item is typical).

The right item should be a useful product that your recipient will actually keep, such as acrylic tumblers, counter mats, and stylus pens.

2.) Craft a message.

Adding a message to a tangible product creates a marketing experience that the audience can see, touch, and hear. Make a lasting impression by tying in the promotional product with your message.

For my self-promotions this year, I sent out a desktop mobile phone holder with the message: “I’m willing to stand on your desk and hold the phone.” It may be a bit corny, but it’s memorable and makes people chuckle a little. (Of course, I think it’s clever and brilliant.)

When crafting a message, consider how you’re different than your competition or how you can make people’s lives easier. For referring physicians, you may want to express how much you appreciate incoming referrals or promote a new treatment technique. For potential and current patients, you might want to craft a message about how you can help with injuries or reinjures.

3.) Continuously market and follow up.

Whether it’s providing branded bottles of hand sanitizer at a local 5K race or branded pens at a referring physician’s office, it’s important that your engagement doesn’t stop with the item. Continuously look for ways to interact with potential and current patients, even after you’ve sponsored an event. And schedule meetings with referring physicians to put a face to your logo. Any opportunity to keep your brand and logo top-of-mind is great, but you can’t simply bombard your audience with promotional products. They can serve as your foot in the door, but you have to see the interactions and relationships through. 

When it comes to promotional items, the perceived value is often greater than the actual cost of the item. Furthermore, giving a gift to someone establishes a feeling of reciprocity in some way. Hopefully, that gives way to more referrals or continued customer loyalty. 

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