There are a number of tools at your disposal in marketing your business with a promotional item, and you want to include as many of them as possible in the equation to try to create future business for yourself. Robert Cialdini is the author of a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which was written in 1984 and is still referenced frequently today. According to him, there are six ways to activate a sales response in people, or influence them to take action on your behalf. The rules are summed up at MindTools.com, and a few of them can apply to a promotional item.
One of them is reciprocity, which is at the very heart of the giveaway of a promotional item. You give your potential client an item, and they in turn feel obligated to return the favor to you in the form of business. Another powerful tool is the power of liking, and given that most people like getting free stuff and also like the people who give it to them, this one is at play for the promotional item as well.
Social proof is the concept that if a lot of people are doing something, there must be a good reason and people will recognize the popularity and be drawn in. One way to apply this is to get your promotional item out to as many people as possible, which will in turn make more people in the area want to check out the giveaway and get in on it.
You can also try to invoke Cialdini’s principle of “commitment and consistency,” at the point of the giveaway. His research shows that if people say they’re going to do something, they are significantly more likely to follow through on it. So you might give them your branded item and then ask them if they’ll check out your website or brochure. Get a yes, and you’re a lot more likely to reel them in.