Stickers are no longer just “bumper stickers”. The days of big, white, rectangular stickers for car bumpers are disappearing and being replaced with promotional stickers of all shapes and sizes for application to windows, water bottles, laptops, equipment, signs, phones, people… anywhere.
Advertising/marketing has shifted to more permission and connection based models. Advertising that interrupts or is lost in a sea of other pitches is (usually) no longer cost-effective, especially for small businesses. The power of stickers lies in the fact that when displayed they are not perceived as advertising at all. They are personal endorsements, recommendations and badges of support for a message, product or organization.
For over 65 years, stickers have been helping politicians get elected, building companies, establishing brands, advertising, starting conversations and increasing exposure. Yet despite being long-lasting and having a low cost per impression, not enough attention has been paid by marketers and businesses to the power of this sticky marketing tool. Here are nine reasons astute businesses shouldn’t ignore this powerful, low-cost marketing medium.
Promotional stickers are physical, off-line forms of social media and broadcasting. People were ‘liking’, posting, pinning, tagging and starting conversations with stickers long before the Internet. Designed and distributed properly they continually generate low-cost exposure, impressions and word of mouth marketing.
Promotional stickers are not always a give-away item, of course. They are also an inexpensive way to brand products, packaging, signage and serviced equipment. You can’t always rely on others becoming advocates that spread your message and brand, but you certainly can do it yourself, whenever possible, in tasteful and effective ways.
Besides branding and efforts to increase exposure, stickers can be leveraged in other ways to enhance and strengthen marketing programs. Free stickers can be traded for addresses. Opinions and conversations can be encouraged on-line in social media to engage fans and customers. Valuable information or promotions can be delivered on the back of a sticker. Stickers improve the open rates of direct mail. Stickers can strengthen communities and awareness of a particular message. Cooperative campaigns with others can reduce costs and increase distribution and impressions. Successful or interesting sticker campaigns can generate excellent PR. And, much more…
Who do I want to communicate with (who is my market)? Where do I find them? How do I make contact? What are their interests (what do they want/need)? What is my unique offering, message and/or story (identity)? How do I communicate and broadcast my message/identity cleanly, simply, graphically and quickly to my market and prospects? 8.
Compliment and Enhance Other Marketing Efforts
Promotional stickers, done right, can also become profitable products themselves. A brand name, slogan or image can become a sticky product. You don’t have to be Life Is Good or a popular band to create stickers that fans will pay for. If you’ve got retail options, a unique angle to a specific market, or fans and advocates, you can definitely create a sticker with enough perceived value to warrant people wanting to show it off, and willing to pay for the privilege. Just make sure the sticker fits the customer’s personal needs and preferences, not just your own marketing/branding needs.
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Think off-line marketing is passé or not as effective as social media for word-of-mouth? Think again. Recent studies show that 90% of people trust word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know (Nielsen). And, 90% of word-of-mouth about brands is taking place off-line (Keller Fay Group). Yet tools, like stickers, used to encourage and amplify off-line (as well as on-line) word of mouth are often overlooked by many businesses. This is an obvious mistake.
To sum up, marketing is about relationships; communicating what makes you unique and of value to the people who will benefit and are willing to support you. Stickers can be used in a number of ways to strengthen that bond and encourage that the word is spread. That is sticker marketing – utilizing one of the lowest-cost, highest exposure marketing tools available to make and strengthen connections. But, remember, like any form of marketing or advertising, sticker marketing requires proper planning, design and execution to maximize its effectiveness.
Because of the succinct nature of a promotional sticker, the process of development and design can help clarify and focus other marketing efforts (logo, website, advertisements, business cards, headlines, press releases, etc.). The same core questions need to be asked and analyzed:
Regardless of whether promotional stickers are displayed in public they can still be very cost effective. Whether handed out or mailed, quality stickers have a higher perceived value than other promotional mediums (business cards, brochures, flyers, etc.). They are viewed more as a gift than “advertising”. And, like promotional products they are harder to throw away immediately and can engage the recipient… “Where could I stick this?” “Who could I give this to?” “I haven’t donated in a while.” “I need to stop in there.” “I love these guys.”
Jeff Nicholson is the founder and Creative Director at Freely Creative, Inc. and Websticker.com, a marketing company specializing in the design and production of promotional stickers, decals, and labels. He is the author of Stick This! Using Promotional Stickers To Build Identity, Create Word Of Mouth and Grow Sales.