If you own your own business, you've probably have had moments of indecision concerning where to advertise and market your services. So how do you know what to spend your marketing dollars on, and what to pass on? How do you avoid wasting your money on marketing that isn't going to result in more clients and more sales? How can you ensure you'll get the "biggest bang for the buck?" The answer is to go back to your marketing plan and look at your goals and objectives. You'll also want to look at who you identified as your ideal prospects or target clients. Then you simply evaluate these potential marketing activities based on their ability to help you achieve your objectives, and their ability to put you or your company in front of your ideal prospects.
Sponsorships and donations?
While sponsorships and donations are in part a goodwill activity and can be very worthwhile for that reason alone, if you are evaluating them from a marketing perspective (and I recommend you do, especially if you get asked to sponsor or donate frequently) you need to make sure they will give you exposure to your ideal prospects and contribute toward reaching your objectives. The value of the exposure you receive should be worth the investment you are making. Consider what it would cost to reach those prospects in another manner to help determine the value of the exposure.
As far as purchasing pens with your company name, the same tests apply. Ask yourself how you will use the pens. Will they provide exposure to your ideal prospects or clients? Will they reach your prospects in a manner no other marketing activity can? For example, if you are looking for repeat business from your clients, if they have a pen with your name on it that they see and use everyday perhaps they will be reminded to frequent your business.
Direct mail? If you are planning to do a direct mail follow up to clients who haven't done business with you in awhile, a pen might be a nice premium to include in the mailing, and it will continue to serve as a reminder long after the direct mail piece is read and thrown away. But do NOT order the pens if you don't have a plan for using them and an objective for what you hope to achieve. Just having pens with your company name without these two items defined is definitely a waste of your money.
Whenever you are questioning whether you should take advantage of a particular marketing opportunity, ask yourself these three questions:
Will it provide exposure to my ideal prospects or target clients?
Will it help me achieve my marketing objectives?
Is this exposure worth the dollars I am investing?
If you can answer "YES" to all three questions, and you have marketing budget available, then you'll want to seriously consider the opportunity. If your answer is "no" to the first two questions, and the opportunity doesn't put you in front of your ideal prospects or help reach your objectives, you'll want to "just say NO!" to that particular marketing opportunity. If the answer is "yes" to the first two questions, but "no" to question number three and the opportunity is well-suited to your marketing plan but the value just isn't there, you may want to go back and negotiate more exposure or a lower price. And, last but certainly not least, if you don't have a marketing plan to help you evaluate these kinds of opportunities when they come your way, my advice is simple: You NEED to get one.