Holiday season is the perfect time to say thank you to customers with a promotional gift. Promotional gifts can include things like calendars, coffee mugs and pens that carry a company's logo and contact information. These gifts represent an excellent opportunity to build trust and promote loyalty with customers. However, they also represent a marketing vehicle that can be used to spread the word about a business for months or even years to come. The right promotional products will both promote and brand the business. Here are things to consider when choosing the right gifts for Rudolph: Define your customers Do market research Chose a gift that brands your business Gather feedback for next year Treat Holday Promotional Gifts as a Marketing Campaign The list above intentionally follows the basic elements of a marketing campaign. The marketing value of inexpensive promotional gifts can be enormous provided the right amount of market research goes into carefully choosing the right products. Related: Tips and Advice for Customer Loyalty Programs A study by an independent research agency for the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) found that 83% of marketers plan to increase or maintain their promotional product spending despite hard economic times. Large businesses are embracing promotional product marketing because it is proven to work. Furthermore, the collected data from holiday promotional items can be used for marketing efforts for the coming year and for years beyond that. Define Your Customers Promotional products are unique in that they are useful everyday items and understanding who your customers are makes choosing the right gift much easier. Customers should be grouped roughly into age, sex and socio-economic groups. The tricky part is then figuring out what these customers will use on a regular basis. Related: Tips and Advice for Sales and Marketing Market Research for Promotional Gifts Market research for promotional products isn't as difficult as it sounds; start looking at the promotional items used by large corporations. These companies have entire marketing departments that agonize over which promotional items to buy and why. Why not use the research collected for a large company and apply it to your own needs? Chose a Promotional Gift that Brands the Business Branding the business with is a must with promotional holiday gifts. Many companies chose generic plastic pens as gifts for the season. They are cheap, disposable and they easily migrate to new customers. However, how do they look, feel, write? Does the quality of the pen make the business look spectacular? Does it fit the image of the company? Is it unique? These are all questions to ask before ordering 10,000 plastic pens. The tips above are provided to help small businesses make the most out of their promotional holiday gifts and integrate these gifts into marketing for their business year round. Promotional marketing products are a $13 billion dollar industry because they provide profitable ROI; dual purpose, they give to both customers and the business. Photo credit: progression.me Bio: Eric Thomas is Brand Manager for Brandme.com.au, Australia's leading promotional items supplier.