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Can Free Office Items Generate Sales?

Some sales reps think that if they get their corporate logo and contact info onto enough office items, and get those items into enough offices, prospects will ring the phones off the hook. But sending junk to prospects usually doesn't work, in my observation. It just makes you look desperate, while insulting the prospect's intelligence and taste. However, there may be a better way to get your contact info permanently on a prospect's desk. Here's what worked for me.

I recently got a package from a friend of mine who does sales training. Smart guy with good ideas, but for some reason he thought I'd want a ballpoint pen, a business card holder, a couple of refrigerator magnets, and a paperweight, all with his name and logo on it. As much as I like the guy, the junk went straight into the trash compactor.

And I think that's usually what happens. Even something useful, like a coffee mug, generally gets trashed, since most people have plenty. And why would they want to provide you with free advertising?

That being said, it turns out that I personally helped a sales opportunity along by sending a prospect a "logoed" office item. However, what I sent was a little different than the weird junk that my friend sent me.

Here's the story. I once found out during an exploratory conversation that a new client (an editor) was a big fan of the 18th century pundit Samuel Johnson. So I went to Cafepress and made him a coffee mug with this on it:

The cost? About $15 (including shipping). And ten minutes of my time. I sent the editor a little note explaining that I had found a great quote from Samuel Johnson in his role as an editor and thought it deserved immortalizing.

Two weeks later, I was writing my first article for his publication. Of course, that could have been a fluke, but I suspect that the reason this "office item" worked is that the coffee mug MEANT something and was clearly personalized for him.

I'll bet he's still using it, too.

So, rather than sending cookie cutter junk to a prospect, you might want to find out something unique about the prospect and then devise an inexpensive gift that will be uniquely meaningful to that prospect, and that prospect alone.

READERS: Do you hand out office items (coffee mugs, paper weights, etc.)? Ever get any business as a result?