The Secret to Getting Attention

How many times have you received a promotional item sporting a brand logo and thought “wow, that’s really cool?”

More often than not, the swag received at trade shows is unmemorable.

Cheap pens, coffee mugs, lame t-shirts, pads of paper and beverage koozies featuring a company logo are commonplace. If you go to an expo floor, you are sure to walk away with your share of stuff that you’ll wonder why you picked up in the first place.

Specialty item vendors make a killing printing up custom stuff, most of which gets tossed shortly after it is received.

My question is, why would you pay to create something that is not going to stand out? Why not get attention by providing something that your prospects and customers will actually remember?

Back in 2008, I came across a little novelty item that made me smile. It’s called the Slingshot Flying Monkey. Basically, it’s a stuffed toy monkey with rubber bands in his arms. When you deploy the little simian, he flies across the room and makes a wonderfully obnoxious screeching sound sure to alert the dog.

I found a way to purchase the monkeys in bulk and created a custom patch sporting my company’s logo. We stuck the patch the cape of the masked monkey and sent them to peers and associates during the holiday season along with a note.

As a result, I received emails and letters thanking me for the creative gift. Some told me their kids got a hold of it and were driving them crazy with it. Others said the dog enjoyed the new chew toy. But for the most part, sending this item accomplished the goal of getting attention.

Being a 13-year old disguised in a 51-year old body, I still make a habit of bringing a flying monkey with me when I speak and finding an opportunity to send it flying into the audience from the stage. You’re never too old to have fun!

In fact, the flying monkey became so associated with my brand that I challenged my team to battle it out in the Flying Monkey Office Olympics.

Flying Monkey Office Olympics

In 2010, I was inspired to write a book based on the various ways that people could make money online with their content. The book was called KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays.

Inspired by Staples’ famous “easy button” (that was easy), I thought it would be cool if there was such a thing as a KaChing Button. When pressed, the button featuring a green dollar sign would make the ubiquitous and universal kaching cash register sound.

When my efforts to find such a button turned up nothing, I decided to manufacture the button myself.

The KaChing Button was an instant hit!

That year, not only did I send them out as gifts to peers and associates, but they were also sent to editors along with a review copy of the book. Needless to say, the button went a long way towards getting attention.

Today, the KaChing Button is sold via, and they are purchased each and every day.

I always enjoy when someone makes a video demonstrating the KaChing Button, as Mari Smith once did.

Mari Smith demonstrates the KaChing Button

So what are the things you should consider when creating a promotional item that will serve its purpose?

1) Does it get attention?

Unless your custom printed pen is gold-plated or hi-tech, odds are it won’t get attention. Unless your t-shirt sports a cool design (and most do not), it won’t get worn. It will get tossed in the Salvation Army donation bin. And unless your coffee mug makes people smile when they are having their morning cup of Joe, odds are it won’t get used.

Your promotional item must first grab the attention of the recipient. Imagine how you would feel if you received the item (and try not to be biased). Does it grab your attention? If not, it probably won’t make much of an impact with the recipient either.

2) Will the recipient keep it?

The custom pen might get tossed in the drawer, but the odds of it being used or of anyone actually paying attention to what is on the pen are quite small. A USB storage device with a custom logo could be worthy of keeping. But I’ve got a couple dozen of them in my drawer and I couldn’t tell you what logos are printed on them. I don’t care. I just kept them for their potential utility.

You want to create something people will keep because of its uniqueness AND utility.

3) Will the recipient USE it?

Once you have overcome the first two obstacles, you now reach the stage that makes all the difference.

Not only does the KaChing Button get attention and remain in the possession of the person receiving it, but it is used on a regular basis. I hear all the time that their button sits on their desk within reach. That way they can press it when a sale is made or just because they want to smile.

The keep it AND they use it. Now THAT is brand reinforcement. And they remember where it came from.

It’s not difficult to come up with your own promotional item that will grab attention. It merely takes creativity, a playful spirit and no fear of flying monkeys.

(for more from Joel, visit

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