Promotional products are items used to promote a brand, raise awareness, support a team or share a message.
Promotional merchandise has been popular for more than two centuries. One of the first recorded uses of promotional swag was in 1789 when commemorative buttons helped George Washington win the presidential election.
Today, promotional products are a $24 billion industry with an excellent reputation for effective marketing. Custom-printed items, such as apparel and water bottles, give companies the exposure they need to be successful in a competitive market.
Before I tell you how these promotional tools can increase your bottom line, let’s start from the beginning.
What are promotional products?
Promotional products can be used to promote services, products, organizations and campaigns. Customized items are imprinted or decorated to draw the attention of a targeted audience.
The list of items used as promotional products is constantly growing. Businesses and organizations put their logos or unique designs on everything from umbrellas to magnetic clips. Often specific products are chosen to align with a company’s own products, services or culture.
Some of the most common promotional products today are can coolers and Koozies®, pens, T-shirts, lanyards, drinkware, tote bags, and lip balm. Tech items, such as chargers and earbuds, continue to gain in popularity.
Professional signage is essential for businesses who participate at trade shows, conventions, career fairs and training exercises. Custom banners and table covers are the No. 1 choice. They excel at achieving brand recognition and can be used multiple times.
Why choose promotional items for your business?
Affordability. One of the reasons promotional products are so successful is their low cost. Bulk-buying puts less burden on marketing budgets than other forms of advertising. Many businesses order large quantities of giveaways to use all year for giveaways, corporate events and employee gifts.
The cost per impression (CPI) of promotional products can be as low as 1.8 cents, according to the Advertising Specialty Institute. This means it costs an advertiser as little as 1.8 cents to make an impression with a potential customer. That is much less than nearly any other advertising resource.
This is a huge advantage for small businesses that need a smart return on investment (ROI) to stretch their marketing dollars.
Spending tip: Businesses with less than five years of experience spend up to 20 percent of their revenue on promotional marketing. More experienced businesses spend less.
Long-term engagement. According to the Promotional Products Association International, 81 percent of people who receive promotional products, keep them for more than a year. That’s a full 12 months for a prospective client to see your name and logo. Also, about half of all giveaways are handed down to others for even longer brand exposure!
Persuasion. Promotional products are the most effective tools for prompting consumer action such as making a purchase. Research shows that three out of four people would likely switch brands if they received a promotional item from a company they had not previously done business. The study also showed that 83 percent of people who receive promo items are more likely to do business with that brand. No other form of advertising including online, print, mobile and broadcast is as successful at persuading people of all generations.
Brand recognition. Instant brand recognition gives businesses an edge over their competition. Consumers place more trust in a company with a familiar logo or tagline. According to Marketing Charts, 82 percent of U.S. customers will remain loyal to a brand they trust.
Positive impressions. Studies show that customers are two and a half times more likely to have a positive impression of a promotional product than an online ad. What does this mean for you? The custom sunglasses you give a prospective client will make you both look good!
How to use promotional items
Every day companies and organizations are finding new ways to use promotional products for success. Often they discover that using swag to achieve one goal can indirectly accomplish another. Here are the most common ways to use promotional merchandise:
Giving employees a branded item such as a T-shirt or ceramic mug with your company logo shows your appreciation for their work. It also fosters positive relationships and makes workers feel one with the company. That, in turn, makes the brand even stronger and more attractive to others.
Another benefit to rewarding employees with customized products is the extended advertising you receive in return. Workers will expose your logo or message when they take those items on shopping trips, when traveling or working out, and at sporting events.
Trade show giveaways
Don’t bother setting up a trade show booth if you’re not going to give away promotional merchandise. You’ll be lonely! Useful trade show giveaways draw visitors and give you an opportunity to discuss your products or services. They also allow you to place your brand directly in the hands of future clients.
Increasing your customer base is important but don’t forget about the loyal clients you count on. Slip them a custom can cooler or pen with each purchase to show your appreciation. This is a really nice touch during the holidays.
New product/service marketing
Nothing sparks interest like free stuff! Get everyone excited about your new lunch menu or trendy fitness gear by offering a personalized keychain or sports bottle with each purchase. You’ll make a great impression and your logo will get amazing exposure. Win-win!
Spread your message and keep it fresh in everyone’s mind for months with a personalized giveaway item. Promotional products are excellent for informing people about health screenings, smoking cessation, sober driving and other important causes. (Stress balls are perfect for this!)
Tip: Awareness items are very successful when handed out at county fairs, community festivals, sporting events or at your place of business. Shop our fundraising and awareness products for inspiration.
You’ve got this!
Marketing a business or planning an event isn’t easy. But promotional products can help you reach your goals. Whether you’re opening a new daycare or organizing a corporate picnic, it pays to explore the world of customized merchandise!