Giveaways get the word out

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November 16, 2022

PHOTO: JERRY SCHAPPERT

These plugs were a small investment with a big payoff. PHOTO: JERRY SCHAPPERT

In a sea of swag, it’s tough for pest management professionals (PMPs) to know which promotional items really work. People love getting free stuff, no doubt. But how often does it generate a call or a referral? Or does it just disappear in a kitchen junk drawer?

WORTH THE COST?

I’ve serviced many a home and seen a competitor’s refrigerator magnet or wall calendar. The logo stares at me as I inspect the kitchen pantry. I do chuckle a bit, but then I think, “How much money have I spent on such? Is this same scenario happening across town as my competitor chuckles, too?”

A HIT AND A MISS

One year I decided to try flyswatters. I went online and found what I needed, diligently designed it and placed my order.

As most websites do nowadays, a banner ad suddenly appeared, showing another product with the bold type, “You might also like this.” Well, the company caught my attention with a tiny electrical socket protector in the shape of a house. I clicked back to the design area and sure enough, all my company info fit just fine, only much smaller.

With the $200 impulse buy made, I checked out for a total of a $1,200.

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

My plan was for members of a local community group to deliver the flyswatters along with their monthly newsletter, which they agreed to do. As for the socket protectors, I was going to put one or two in each home where I conducted a wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection. My thought was, the new homeowners would see it, and it would serve as a silent salesman 24 hours a day.

The day came when my package arrived, and I was ready to put my plan into action. When I opened the box, I saw my bag of socket protectors and they were a pleasant surprise. Although small, all the text was legible and looked really good.

Pulling out the much larger bag of flyswatters was disappointing, though. They were all of 9 inches long and barely looked like they’d even swat a fly, literally. I chose the size, so it was my error. But in any case, they were more of an embarrassment than anything else. I went ahead with my distribution plan but as expected, I received few to no calls from neighborhood residents. Lesson learned.

On the bright side, my socket protectors generated interest, and we received quite a few calls because of them over the next two or three years — long after my bag was empty. I definitely got my money out of that order.

I still have a box of forgotten swag sitting in my office: a couple handfuls of keychains, a few T-shirts, etc. It’s not enough to amount to any real giveaway campaign, unless you count the 100 or more flyswatters I just can’t bring myself to pass out any longer.


Tips from the Pest Cemetery Crew

“BugBoss Swag Buckets! They include about $100 worth of stuff. I donate them to random raffles and events, and they always get the most entries.”
— Brian Zahringer, Co-Owner, BugBoss The X-Terminator, Clintonville, Wis.

“Potato chip bag clips with our company name and phone number.”
— Cindy Jones, Co-Owner, Prestige Pest Control, Pooler, Ga.

“Rather than a widget, we give away our time. We cook for apartment residents yearly; it lets them know we are family. We also provide free spray treatments to all apartment managers’ personal homes, whether off-site or on.”
— Steve Fletcher, Owner, Accurate Pest Control, Republic, Mo.

“We have a client who owns a custom cookie business. We have her print our logo on them, and we give them to key commercial clients as a thank-you.”
— Trent Heard, Owner, RedHawk Pest Control, Madison, Ala.

“We do $20 gift cards for local businesses in a giveaway drawing for those who share our posts.”
— Mark Whorton, Owner, Whorton Pest Control, Owens Cross Roads, Ala.

About the Author

SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at bugdoctor@embarqmail.com.

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