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Custom bookmarks are powerful sales and branding tools when used correctly, despite being overlooked by most marketers who favor more obvious marketing techniques. With the right strategy you can turn an ordinary place holder into a sales-spurring wonder that packs plenty of return on investment. Here's how to leverage custom bookmarks to fuel sales.
First and foremost, you must consider who will actually be using your bookmarks - your customers - and how they'll be using them. Obviously bookmarks are used to mark one's place in a book, but consider what kinds of books or other publications your readers read before you begin planning your bookmark design and copy. This will help you identify with your customers by being relevant to their interests - whatever it is that they are reading. If your products or services are not necessarily relevant to your customers' reading materials (what, after all, does a lawnmower have to do with a Stephen King story?), you can come up with a relevant theme nonetheless (well, King did write "The Lawnmower Man").
Relevancy is key to getting your readers to pick up and use your bookmarks, so the more relevant they are to your readers' reading preferences or tastes the better. A bookmark with a clever take on a literary figure or genre is one thing; a bookmark that uses this clever take to lend a branded impression about a product is quite another thing altogether. Even better is a bookmark that encourages direct sales while it brands your company. A local coffee shop, for example, might distribute bookmarks with discounts for coffee on specific days (or even free coffee on special days). The effect would be threefold: encouraging customers to try the coffee (so they later buy), encouraging customers to sit and enjoy coffee in one's shop (thus more purchases and an increase in perceived shop popularity), and encouraging coffee drinkers to keep their bookmarks in their books for every day branding (which might have a fourth purpose through vicarious advertising and even word-of-mouth potential).
In the coffee shop example mentioned above, it's important to note that the longer a customer keeps a bookmark in his or her book the more profound its influence over time. Thus, time is money when it comes to bookmark marketing. A single one-shot bookmark marketing campaign can yield many direct sales, for sure, but the true power of bookmark marketing is in longevity. If the coffee shop has a special reward for finishing the bookmark's offers every month and always gives out a fresh bookmark when one is finished, the bookmark earns long-term popularity while the coffee shop earns long-term profitability.
Since custom bookmarks are cheap to print, your return on investment is practically guaranteed with intelligent distribution and great offers. In fact, you can get 500 bookmarks for about $60 and 5,000 bookmarks for around a nickel each.