Marketing August 13, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2018 6,518 Reads share

How to Choose the Most Effective Promotional Products for Your Business

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Promotional products are branded gifts that have your company’s name and/or logo on them. They are one of the oldest forms of marketing, advertising and branding. To date, it is still one of the best ways to keep your brand top of mind with customers and is also one of the most affordable ways to advertise.

However, there are 3 keys to making sure that the promotional products you choose are the most effective in advertising your business. The promotional product you choose must be:

  1. useful to the recipient,
  2. relevant to your brand, and
  3. it has to represent your company well.

#1. Useful Promotional Products

In order to be able to be effective in advertising your company or your brand, a promotional product must be useful to the recipient. A useful promotional product means that the recipient will want to keep it and use it.

Trade shows are one of the most popular places where companies give away promotional products. Whether it is an inexpensive pen or a more expensive item, the risk is the same. It needs to make it home with the person you give it to and has to work well and be of use to them.

  • Long term use – Research has shown that when a promotional product is useful it can be kept for anywhere from one to 3 years on average and that keeps your logo and company name top of mind for a very long time. When a product is kept for so long, there is also a large chance of transference of your brand when the recipient continually uses that product. Others will see your recipient using the product and not only see your name but can often automatically get the impression that the owner’s use of your product is a positive recommendation for your company.
  • Short term use – However, keeping an item for a long time doesn’t necessary make it useful. Offering a branded drink or snack at a trade show can mean a lot and make a big, positive impression to trade show attendees that are thirsty, tired, or hungry. Depending on your strategy, you might try offering both a short term use promotional product as well as a more expensive, take home type give away.

Many companies also opt to offer one type of product to customers or long time, loyal customers, vs. booth visitors who have yet to buy. Of course, promotional products are not only used at trade shows. Retailers might offer them as incentives to purchase or as an added bonus to give customers when they make a purchase.

Businesses that offer services like salons or restaurants can offer promotional products that will be useful to the recipients and at the same time serve as a continual reminder to come back often.

#2. Promotional Products that Enforce Brand Relevance

One of the qualities of successful promotional products is that it has to be relevant to your brand. This is a quality that helps drive home to recipients what your company does. This helps recipients and users associate your company with the product they have been gifted. For example, pens are popular promotional products, but if your company doesn’t have anything to do with writing, then it may not be the best choice.

Here are some examples of relevant promotional product ideas that often can work better than a general promotional product like a pen, note pad, or magnet:

  • Sunscreen with your logo on it if you are a dermatologist.
  • First Aid kit personalized with your brand if you are a hospital or clinic.
  • Recycled note paper if your company represents being conscious about the environment.
  • Branded road side assistance kits for car companies or car insurance companies.
  • Promotional drink ware or branded aprons for a restaurant or food company.
  • Electronics for digital companies such as a branded USB drive, a mobile device case or holders.
  • Promotional brushes, combs, or spritzer bottles are great giveaways for salons.
  • Clothes and clothing accessories are another popular category for promotional products and can help remind customers of your company while they advertise it to others who they encounter each day they wear it. Although they might be considered generic to any business, they are a strong influence and can make a very big impression.

#3. Promotional Products and Gifts Must Represent Your Company Well

Overall the promotional product you give away should represent your company well. It doesn’t have to last long, for instance, if it is a food item or a labeled water bottle, it can serve a short purpose and be done. However; if it is something that is designed for recipients to keep them, they have to work well.

Surveys have shown that promotional products can elevate customers’ opinions of your company; but, a faulty or cheaply made promotional product can give a negative impression of your company, even though it is a free giveaway. The bottom line is that the promotional products you give away should have a positive impact on recipients.

Remember that research shows that on average, recipients will keep promotional products for a year or longer and a good portion of them keep it for 3 or 4 years. It is better to invest a little more in a quality promotional product to ensure that it does its job and represents your company well for the long haul.

Summary and Takeaways for Your Company

Choosing to use promotional products to advertise your business is an excellent choice. However, the important part is abiding by the 3 rules for effective promotional products. When you choose to use a branded gift, it must be useful to the recipient, has to be relevant to your brand, and must represent your company in a positive light. When promotional products meet these 3 criteria, they can often be kept for a long time and can positively influence their impression on your company and make them more likely to continue to do business with you.

In addition, another positive aspect of promotional products is that some transference can occur and it can act as a referral to others who see your recipient using your branded products. When surveyed, many recipients say that receiving promotional gifts enhances a positive impression of your company. That positive sentiment and being top of mind can be all your company needs for continued repeat business from every customer you give a branded gift to.

Images: “Vector Packaging and Souvenir dummy/


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Richard Larson

Richard Larson

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