What small businesses can learn about promotional items from the collector’s market

Limited edition items featuring desirable brands make collectors pull out their checkbooks year after year.

If the recent boom in television shows like Pawn Stars, American Pickers and Storage Wars has taught small business owners anything, it's that the power of branding drives not only business markets, but also the collector's market for corporate promotional giveaways. These products given away to clients help to establish a brand identity, reflect a market niche, and create a larger sense of customer identification with the brand.

Limited edition items featuring desirable brands make collectors pull out their checkbooks year after year. Considering several cases of successful corporate brand marketing that have gained desirability in the private consumer market should offer insight for businesses as to how customizable promotional giveaways can increase customer understanding and support of the brand.

Coca-Cola
The Georgia-based soft drink giant boasts one of the world's most famous corporate logo, and it is also one of the largest private company trademarks for collectors. Coca-Cola is internationally synonymous with America itself, and Coke campaigns have been particularly effective at building nostalgia around Christmas by using its famous Santa Claus image. In April 2012, a Coca-Cola soda fountain from the Chicago World's Fair 1898 sold for $4.5 million at auction. This shows just how far loyal customers are willing to go to own a piece of their favorite company's history. Coca-Cola is a true icon, and businesses should consider their strategies when it comes to brand identity and publicity.

Planter's Peanuts
In top hat, cane and monocle, Mr. Peanut-themed promo items are highly desirable on the collectors market. An aluminum coin-operated peanut scale featuring the brand's iconic mascot was sold by Morphy Auctions for over $7,000 in 2011. Because this product also reflects that company's function, collectors are willing to invest in it. Companies looking to increase their use of business promotional items should decide how to best match giveaway items with the types of services provided.

Mobil Gas
The iconic Mobil Pegasus design is one of the most sought after logos amongst collectors of petroliana. These items are hot amongst men looking to decorate a garage or man cave. An April 2012 eBay auction saw a bid of $4,400 on an antique Mobileheat sign, which did not meet the seller's reserve price. This is a great case of niche marketing that small business owners can learn from: knowing target clients is the most important step to choosing effective business gifts.

McDonalds
The world's leading fast food company has seen great success in tying its promotions in with film and entertainment franchises such as Star Wars and Disney. McDonalds has been including toys and other giveaways with Happy Meals since 1977. This is a case of target marketing at its best. The prize inside the meal is often more desirable for children than the food itself. McDonalds often offers these giveaways as a set, encouraging consumers to come back and collect them all. Companies can learn lessons from McDonalds in terms of niche marketing and associating a brand with a iconic entertainment brands.

While small businesses don't have the same capital flow as large, multinational corporations, it is clear that promotional giveaways and other products customized with a company's logo can pay dividends when it comes to product recognition. Small investments including personalized pens, bags or USB flashdrives build rapport between a company and its clients. These promotional products offer a unique advertising approach and may end up being collector's gold one day.

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