A body shop in the Bay Area gave me a swag bag full of stuff a few years ago that included pens, a t-shirt, a baseball cap, a coffee mug and several other items displaying the shop's logo.
I could see right away that they were quality items, which is why they stayed out of my trash bin.
In fact, I wear the t-shirt and the baseball cap all the time because they're comfortable and I like the design. I realize that I've become a walking billboard for the business, but I'm okay with it because I'm getting some free high-end apparel and other cool stuff as part of the deal. As a marketing tool, it's working because the investment that the shop made in ad specialties has paid for itself---at least in my case.
Anything that has your company’s name on it is called an ad specialty. From my experience, almost every body shop in the country makes a practice of giving away at least one to three ad specialties to their customers, associates and vendors. It's a huge business; in fact, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) has identified it as a $19.4 billion industry with a network of more than 25,000 distributors and suppliers throughout North America.
Putting your logo on an item and getting people to use it is the biggest challenge for any business, but by taking a creative and strategic approach, many shops are getting maximum exposure out of their ad specialties. By thinking outside of the box and finding unique items, some companies have become well-known for their ad specialties, such as In 'N Out Burger, Ford Motor Company and Skechers.
Identifying a high-quality ad specialty and personalizing it for your current followers is also a great way to further strengthen your position with your customer base, according to Brad Healy, owner of Custom Concepts in San Jose, CA.
“If you've already fixed someone's vehicle, why not keep them in the loop by sending them an ad specialty every six months to remember you?" Healy said. "I show body shops how to use a form of personalization that is unique so that when others see your message, it comes through clearly.