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randykirk 7th August 2008 06:54 PM

Proper Use Of Promotional Products
After spending the last 17 years manufacturing bicycle style sports bottles for the promotional products business, today I attended my first trade show for that industry as a distributor. It was an amazing sensation to realize that I can now sell my clients from a basket of over 700,000 products from calenders to lip balm, and coffee cups to monitor wipes. But it got me to thinking about what makes a great give away, leave behind, or mailer.

Personally, I start with utility. So many items in the promotional products business are either totally useless or might get used one time, then tossed. That might be ok for Nike who just needs to keep reminding someone that they have a brand, but for most of us, we want to remind folks that we even exist, and not just once. We'd like them to think about us every day for a few years until just that moment when the need us.

Mugs, sports bottles, desk accessories, calenders, an such seem to fit that bill pretty well.

Next, unless I have a well defined demographic like 18-25 year old women with plenty of disposable income, I would want items that appeal to a wide demographic. Personal care items, pens, t shirts, and carrying bags come to mind.

I'll stop at three. We like it to have a "that's cool" or "WOW" factor. Right now anything recycled or able to be recycled is in that group. At the show, almost every single company had managed to find a way to be "green." The clear standout was reusable grocery type bags. The grocery stores are buying them and either selling or giving them away, but it seems like lots of other folks are interested in giving them to their customers with a big big logo on the side. This is great for multiple use and for secondary exposure of the message.

Anyone else have thoughts about the use of promotional products?

lena7 7th October 2008 11:18 AM

Another great promotion idea
free products are surely a great way to promote your business. i think everyone likes to get things for free and it definitely is one of the best ways if you have direct contact with the people you are dealing with.

Its probably best to give something that is pretty neutral, yet something that is fun and special at the same time.

in general, i say, give away things for free and people will be more eager to come back to you.

IV Studios 12th October 2008 04:21 PM

Tote-type bags are always a good giveaway. They come into service at the tradeshow itself. They see re-use many times over and each time, your brand is visible.

And as a memorable bonus, you can place another branded piece inside -- all the more effective if the bag/carrier has a pocket. The recipient may not find the 'hidden treasure' until later and it 'refreshes' your image.

jonny98002 30th October 2008 12:10 PM

Tote bags are definitely a great idea! Especially with some municipalities charging a "bag tax" on every grocery bag used. People are using their own grocery bags more and more.

Why not have them using a bag with your company information on it?

TradeShowGuru 2nd December 2008 11:25 AM

According to a survey done by the Advertising Specialties Institute, bags are your best bet. The survey reported that bags provide 1,038 impressions per month on average. Not bad, considering if you buy a bag that's less than 2 bucks.

Personally, I love drawstring backpacks. I think I have like 11 of them, and I use them all the time. I've found they're especially useful at amusement parks. You can stuff them right in the locker and go.

Re-useable grocery bags are a great idea, especially like Jonathan said, because of the bag tax. I'd swing more towards a tote bag that can be easily folded up and stuffed in a purse or pocket, or even one that has a keychain attached. I have a lot of non woven totes and I always forgot them in the car when I'd head into the store, but I got this little bag that folds up into itself and has a keychain. I just clip it right on my bag and go. Just speaking from a user-perspective of course.


DBeavers 30th December 2008 05:51 PM


As you stated, it largely depends on the target audience. What my hospital gives away at a public health fair set up in the local mall will be completely different from what a chemical company will use for either public marketing or for giving to employees.

And a commercial firm, such as a Motorola wholesale dealer will require other products for giving to commercial customers as well as government agencies that he serves.

While I find some products are aimed more at the 'one-time-wow-factor' usage, many of the other products will be kept for the long term, when given to the appropriate end-user.

One of my better selling items that many overlook are the USB memory drives. My typical order is for 100 or more, often with 256MB to 1GB. I'm working on one order of these for next month.

Calendars, coffee mugs, embroidered shirts, self-stick notes, and ink pens are my biggest sellers, but I write a number of orders for specialty items, including work gloves, executive desk items, bank deposit bags, and carpenter aprons.

Believe it or not, my biggest customer for the nail aprons is a hospital that gives them to their joint replacement patients. Whether they have a hip, knee, or shoulder replacement, they are given the nail apron to carry the ink pens, crossword puzzle books, tv remote, etc. and told to get out of the bed frequently.

What appears a total waste of money to one buyer or sales rep, may the the perfect product for a different use altogether.


michael123 17th February 2009 03:31 AM

Promotional mugs are a top choice among advertisers..:welcome2:

Refacer1 27th February 2009 09:20 AM

After searching forever for a give-a-way to my customers for well, just being my customer, I thought about it plenty. Seems as pens and such are the norm for this sort of thing. But pens get thrown in drawers or lost completely so I had an idea. (light bulb appears here) I get a lot of word of mouth advertising so I need something that people would not just throw away. Useful items so to speak. I have landed (in my internet travels) on the coffee mug. They may not be used every day, but some where along the line they will move it out of their way or pull it out to just say hey look what he (being me of course) gave me. Pretty neat Huh? I have picked one out that is my company colors. Also, (sigh they say as he goes on) I think the Beer Koozie or can cooler would be a good idea. These would be seasonal but people do use them far and away from their homes and even if it gets left behind when they leave well, there it is. Well there ya have it. That's my story and I'm stickin to it.

Micheal thomas 2nd March 2009 11:09 PM

That's a nice post. While you intend to work from home, it is recommended that you take time to prepare your business plan. There are many ways to start a home business. And promotional items is also one of the best way. Ensure you have enough materials when preparing one, as this will help you in setting your goals. You can use the help of consultants, the Internet, various books and other mentors who have had some experiences in the business.

userinsight 23rd March 2009 08:23 AM

A keychain that doubles up as a bottle opener is ideal for male clients. Small, but considered as a necessity for most men. On the other hand, small vanity mirrors are essential for women so it's not a bad idea either. :)

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