I'm always looking for good ad premiums that are inexpensive and that homeowners will use. Peaden's Robert Wilkos came up with a brilliant way to keep the Peaden name in front up customers. After a happy call, he mails them a shopping bag with the company logo.
Personally, I would never bring my own shopping bag to a store. When I'm handed similar bags at a trade show, I usually leave them in the hotel room. However, as a marketer I can't judge the effectiveness of a promotion based on my preferences and biases.
It seems like every grocery store is selling reusable bags with the store logo. And while I think it's flat out silly to give the store $1 for a reusable bag when the store provides disposable bags for free, I have noticed people using them. Since the stores provide recycle bins for the disposable bags, I wonder if people buy reusable bags because they want to make a statement. If so, there's emotion involved and it's always beneficial to be associated with positive emotions.
Moreover, the bags are cheap. Depending on the quantity, the cost is around a buck a bag. Look around. You might find even better pricing.
What do you print? Your logo, your website, your phone number, your unique selling proposition, a promotional message, or anything else you want. Since the people who use the bags will handle them weekly, whatever you print will be burnt into the consumer's subconscious.
You can send the bags to your customers after a happy call or with a satisfaction survey like Peaden. You can also give them out at home shows (though I suspect bags given out at home shows will follow the route of trade show bags). Personally, I would assemble a promotional kit with product and service literature you want to emphasize, insert the literature in the bags, and hand the bag to customers following a service call. One of the pieces of literature should be a note suggesting the consumer use the bag when grocery shopping, followed by verbiage about your company's recycling methods.
(c) 2009 Matt Michel