Plan ahead to choose the right promotional product

Decisions don’t always come easy. Whether it’s time to reorder a magazine subscription or to replace that furnace, it involves thinking about what your needs are and whether you will be satisfied with your choice.  When it comes to big ticket items, like a furnace replacement the implications are much greater. The same should be said when it comes to choosing promotional products to brand your business.  There are nearly a million products that can prominently place your logo in front of others and you need to determine what your objectives are so you can choose the right item. The most popular items fall into a few key categories that include, apparel, writing instruments, drinkware, tech items, or bags and choosing the right promotional product is not always as easy as it appears.

My four tips for making a good choice include:

  • Budget – First, we must all consider our budget. How much are we willing to spend per impression? What will be the use and shelf life of the product we share, and how many do we need? Are we interested in holding on to the item for a few years or do we want to share it now and worry about our future needs later?
  • Objective – Are you hosting a special event and want to commemorate the occasion? Are you looking for new clients at a trade show and want them to walk away with something that keeps your name top of mind? Determining the objective will help with the product selection. According to a 2017 PPAI Consumer Study titled, Mapping Out the Modern Consumer, nearly 81% of recipients keep a promotional product for a year and 22% will keep an item for nearly 10 years. This item will leave many impressions and if the recipient uses the item only once per week, that’s still 52 impressions over the course of a year. This should be a major part of your consideration when selecting a product.
  • Time Frame – Always consider your time frame since this will assist with making the right choice to meet your objectives. Some items can be turned around quickly while others might need to be customized for your program. You’ll also want to see a proof of the product with your artwork so you can be assured that the final delivery is just what you ordered.
  • Shelf Life – The power of promotional products can have a major impact on further branding, exposure and influence of a business. According to a study conducted by LJ Market Research, more than 71% of respondents surveyed indicated they had received at least one promotional item in the last 12 months and that they could recall the company name on the promotional product they received.

So remember that a promotional product can have staying power. When you need to make a choice, first determine your budget, the objective, time-frame and use for the item. And if you have any items left from your program, consider using them as giveaways on social media to keep the impression fresh and allow others to see and enjoy.


  1. After 30 years of purchasing promotional items in support of brand support through trade show giveaways, I have learned that budget is relative. Some brands require you to associate the giveaway with stability and value, meaning a higher priced premium item. This just means the method of distribution changes to a limited distribution – again, claiming value and associating the act of giving to “cherished” individuals. Who doesn’t want to be cherished? I’ve got two levels of giveaways when I order – something for the masses, but is still relevant and will get used (pens, lens cleaning cloths, even SD cards or SD card holders if my product is related to the digital nature of these gifts.). Sometimes this will be a t-shirt with several clever sayings on the back of the shirt, that will encourage the recipient to wear the shirt for the saying and my brand happens to enjoy the exposure. Again, these shirts may be given at scheduled times, or to those who listen to a demo, or to those who are likely prospects. The second level of giveaway is for higher end (over $10 value) and may be limited to members of the press (press and social mention is sometimes more important than a lead in activating my brand) or to higher value prospects (multiple unit sales). This may be a baseball cap, a large capacity external battery bank, or something else that will get used frequently during the year. So budget is still adhered to – but I don’t have to budget for EVERYONE who comes to my booth or show – just the ones I want to cherish in some way.

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