We can all thank Oprah for getting her oft-used phrase, “aha moment,” added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The term loosely means a sudden inspiration or insight. If you think of it in terms of marketing your own products and services, an “aha moment” can help you make a lasting impression on your customers.

As you plan new marketing campaigns, imagine sending something so creative, so clever, and so unexpected that it sets a new bar. Recipients will remember it for years. They’ll tell others about it. They’ll even get in touch to thank you personally. Has that happened to you yet? If not, maybe this is the year.

What shape could your campaign take that would deliver this “aha moment?” We thought about this ourselves, striving to create something for Cooley that was unforgettable and unique. Would it have been easier and less expensive to produce postcards or brochures to mail or hand out? Of course! But every other company in our field does that. We knew we could do better.

So our Brand Consultants put their heads together and came up with two different campaigns that would get people talking. These took more time to produce and, quite honestly, cost more as well, but in the end, they made the impact we sought.

One was a branded hat campaign, where we wanted to show clients that we could do variable printing, custom packaging, and custom decorating. The easy solution would’ve been to produce a generic hat and verbally explain these capabilities – but there’s no “aha!” in that. We elected to produce a custom box with a personalized letter inserted and a hat with the client’s name printed on the inside. This solution showed off all three markets we wanted to promote… visibly, tangibly, and make it memorable. We received numerous positive responses afterward, and it’s led to a number of opportunities as a result.

A second example took place at our recent trade fairs. We wanted to provide a gift to everyone (over 500 people attended), and we initially settled on a Cooley-branded keychain that costs about $1.75 each. While the branded keychain with just our logo would have been nice, we felt that many of them wouldn’t get used. Plus, they told little about our capabilities.

We decided to create a personalized keychain at each event through our “Initials” program. These branded keychains are heavier and sturdier than most, and they allow us to place the client’s initials on the spot as a welcome gift. Each trade fair had the cabinet of initial combinations ready, and as each client walked up to our booth, we handed them their personalized keychain.

The reaction, response, and buzz around this one product was enormous, and the ROI has more than paid for our cost of the item. We continue to respond to requests for them.

When you’re contemplating a giveaway item or marketing campaign for your company, it’s tempting to go with traditional and generic items. Are they quicker and less expensive to produce? Sure. But will they make a lasting impression and result in additional business? That’s worth thinking about.

In our experience, investing in a product or service that may cost you more or take longer to produce can definitely earn better results in the long term.

Consider all your options when it comes to substrate, format, fabric, decoration location, packaging options, and personalization. What a difference a creative marketing or promotional campaign can make to your bottom line – and to your corporate reputation.

Give your customers that “aha moment” to extend your product’s awareness and do great things for your brand for a long time to come.