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Marketing in tough times II: Focus on your core customers

In Part I, we showed that tough times create opportunities for companies willing to invest in marketing and advertising when their competitors aren't.

In this part, we'll look at how to put those valuable marketing dollars to work.

While most marketing efforts are naturally aimed at generating new leads, it's paramount during tough times to keep your top clients actively engaged with your brand and away from the welcoming arms of your competitors.

Promotional products offer one of the cheapest and most cost-effective ways to keep your firm at the top of your customers' minds.

A recent study by the Advertising Specialty Institute showed that 84% of people who received promotional items remembered the advertiser who gave it to them. Further, more than three-quarters of the people surveyed kept their promotional products for more than six months.

The study also found the promotional products offer one of the lowest cost methods of advertising, with an average cost per impression below that of print, radio and television.

So what items are most likely to build loyalty and keep customers? Pens and bags topped the list of items that are most frequently kept because recipients found them useful.