Small Business Brief


Small Business Promotional Items: 5 Key Benefits

Who doesn’t love a freebie?

Businesses give out trinkets–pens, whistles, notepads, playing cards, and an array of other small, inexpensive items. They continue to remind us, often years later, of the occasions when we received them.

Most small business promotional items are things we would seldom if ever buy for ourselves, yet there’s something special about receiving them as “free gifts.”

In this article, we’ll discuss promotional ideas for small businesses and what might be popular promotional items to give away.

Background: The Psychology of “Free Stuff”

Why do people jump for joy at the prospect of getting something for nothing? There are many possible reasons.

For one, they might be tired of all the regular expenses that pile up in their lives, especially if they’re worried about stretching small paychecks. This may or may not be a needless worry.

In other cases, free stuff just makes people feel special–unexpected gifts .

For others, it might be  about checking out a new business, or one celebrating something, and wanting to participate fully in the experience–especially when the gifts afford a moment of frivolity that takes their minds off more serious things.

Benefits of Small Business Promotional Items

So you can see why promo items for businesses could be quite helpful in drawing customers or clients.

The five items below describe the benefits of specific categories of company promotional items in general and how they can help small businesses in particular.

1. What Kids Will Like

Kids seldom understand why their parents spend so much time at “boring businesses” like insurance agencies or financial planners. But they like the souvenirs the parents bring home for them.

Kids also enjoy collecting things, like commemorative coins, lanyards, or bottle openers. A lot of adults do too for that matter. Shop here to see what treasures you can find.

A business that understands this, and targets kids with simple gifts like whistles, tops, or toy cars or trucks (all with the logo emblazoned on them) are making connections with future consumers.

2. What People Want in the Moment

It’s a hot summer day somewhere down south. People are hot, tired, and thirsty. Or it’s a cold winter day somewhere up north and people want something warm and soothing. Whatever the obvious need might be, you should be ready to meet it.

What about some free coffee–either iced or hot? Or how about sandwiches? We love going to trade shows where vendors have platters of small sandwiches (the kind you can walk around with) catered by popular local food businesses.

If you’ve ever had something you want and need appear unexpectedly in the right place at the right time, you know how memorable that can be. You know that someone was on her/his game, and you really appreciate it.

3. Things People Really Need

What are things people actually have to pay for, whether they like it or not? These are things that could be branded with your logo and other information, and people would see that frequently.

What are some of these things people really need? People always appreciate notepads. We tend to like thermal coffee mugs as well. And we go nuts over reusable grocery bags.

Anything that gets lost or left behind easily is a good idea: earbuds in branded cases, non-prescription sunglasses, pens–decent quality ones, folding umbrellas, windbreakers, running socks, pet toys, and work gloves–to name just a few.

Don’t forget that these items also need to remind people of your line of business, though.  So don’t get carried away. Dental floss is a common necessity, but it doesn’t do your business any good unless you’re a dentist!

4. Branded Consumables

Unlike the “in the moment” items discussed above, these are things people want–even they don’t necessarily need them. We’re thinking about luxuries here, things people wouldn’t buy for themselves unless they were splurging.

  • Gourmet chocolate bars, labeled with your logo and business information. A bulk purchase of the candy probably would be less than $2.00. And how much do printed labels cost?
  • Luxury soap. Again, buy in bulk and use labels for your business.
  • Gourmet coffee
  • Gourmet cookies

Beauty salons have this idea figured out well, with the sample sizes of products they give out at holidays and other key times. Sometimes they give these for clients’ birthdays. Think how good that would make someone feel–about the salon!

5. Things that Make People Want to Come Into Your Business

Like branded consumables, these are what we call experiences. But people, need to actually come to your business and experience that as well. And the nice thing about this is it can offer employment to local freelancers.

What about chair massages at an insurance firm? Cooking demonstrations in a gourmet market? Live music at a supermarket? Storytelling at a bookstore? Fortune telling at a trendy boutique? Or car maintenance demos at a dealership?

If people have had a good, memorable experience at your business, it’s likely they will think of it when they need something you sell or a service you offer.

Memories Last

Often, good memories–or objects that remind us of them–can last beyond the lifetime of the entity that made them available to us in the first place. In fact, some are handed down to children and grandchildren. Many of us still have these items.

One example we have is a spring-loaded spinning top promoting the Silver Top brand from Duquesne Brewing of Pittsburgh. The item dates back nearly a century. That company is no longer in existence, having closed in 1972.

Small business promotional items are valued for sentimental reasons, especially because these kinds of businesses are so vulnerable in today’s global market. In many cases, they evoke nostalgia for our childhoods–whenever they were.

So think about the things we’ve said here. All of them are all really about the lasting pleasures people can derive from even the smallest gifts. We know that small businesses can’t always afford very much, but that’s not what matters.

Use your ingenuity to choose, purchase, and perhaps label or package some small but unique small business promotional items. They will make people feel good about themselves and your business.