Do Ad Specialties Pay for Themselves?

by Ed Attanasio - Wed, Apr 29, 2015 8:10 AM

Body shops give away pens, hats, mugs, car visors, note pads, letter openers and a wide range of other ad specialty items to its customers, but in the end the main question is—do they bring more business to your door?

Are Ad Specialties Worth the Investment?

If you are a body shop owner and are spending a considerable amount of money on ad specialties, you should always ask yourself: are they a good use of your advertising money? Have you ever encountered a customer who actually said, “I saw your name on a coffee mug and that’s why I brought my car here.”

There are so many different ad specialties out there right now, why not stand out by doing something a little different, because most people have enough pens, mugs and baseball hats already?  Is your ad specialty being used by your customers or is it ending up in a garage sale somewhere with a $1 tag on it?

The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) is the largest media, marketing and education organization, serving the $19.4 billion promotional-products-industry with a network of over 25,000 distributors and suppliers throughout North America.

ASI logo

The ASI provided several statistics that are worth noting when making decisions on promotional products:

  • Nearly nine in ten (87%) recipients of promotional merchandise can identify the advertiser on the item quickly and easily.
  • Over one-half (52%) of the time, ad specialties leave a more favorable impression of the advertiser.
  • Promotional products deliver the same or a better ROI than other forms of media.
  • 81% of product recipients indicated that an item’s usefulness is the primary reason to keep it.
  • There are nearly 8,000 different automotive-related promotional products currently in ASI’s database.
  • The automotive industry buys more promotional items than all of other consumer product companies combined nationwide.
  • Study results show that most people own approximately 10 ad specialty items on an on-going basis and hold on to them for an average of six months--a far longer time period than any other form of advertising.

What's your ultimate goal in giving a pen, hat or key chain away? Who's your target audience? Are you trying to reach out to prospective customers? Or are you staying in touch with your VIP clients; those who seem to get into more accidents or have higher-end vehicles? Are you doing a campaign targeting your vendors, insurance agents, local community leaders or organizations? These are very important questions to ask because in the end, it all comes down to finding your target market and continually branding.

Specialty Ads Collage

Many automotive–related businesses use ad specialties as one of its main forms of marketing, because they believe that they work. Whenever you’re buying ad specialties, make sure you do the math. If you spend $200 twice a year to order pens and scratch pads, it’s probably money well-spent, because if you get just one customer as a result (average ticket: $2,500, for example) they pay for themselves. But, if you’re spending $3,000-$4,000 on baseball hats, golf tees, t-shirts, wine glasses, etc.—the costs are a little harder to justify.

Some shops get seduced by the fact that they have their name on a lot of items, and in some ways it’s a little bit of an ego boost, but always keep the bottom line in mind when acquiring any ad specialty item. Be wise and strategic with your ad specialties, and don’t order items that no one will use. That way they’ll stay “special”, and your customers will covet the items you give them.

At, we post each and every customer review we receive-both good and bad. We never filter our reviews to “help” a body shop look good and our strict processes prevent phony or fake reviews from being posted to our site. For pure, unadulterated and 100% objective reviews, rely on each and every time.

AutoBody-Review Logo

Ed Attanasio
Ed has been a professional writer for more than 35 years and his specialties include B2B reporting, blogging, ad copywriting, public relations and general editorial.