How to Use Promotional Products to Market Your Business

September 22, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Promotional products are one of the oldest – and most effective – ways of advertising a business. Every year, American businesses spend an average of $20 billion on promotional products, giving away anything with logos such as wearables, writing instruments, bags, desk items, calendars, glassware and many more items.

promotional products

The success of promotional products hinges on the idea of time-honored concept of reciprocity: if I you give something, you will be honor-bound to return the favor by giving something back. As such, big and small businesses have used promotional materials as part of their marketing strategies. Even non-profits and research institutions typically send potential donors with personalized address labels or tote bags to increase response rates.

Some of the types of promotional products popularly used today include:

  • Items that recipients can wear such as t-shirts, caps, jackets
  • Items that help recipients collect or convey things such as bags, notebooks, briefcases
  • Items that help recipients schedule their time such as calendars, desk planners, watches
  • Items that facilitate written communication, such as pens, pencils, markers
  • Items recipients can consume such as food gifts
  • Items associated with digital communications such as computer mouse pads and flash drives
  • Items that enhance health and comfort of recipients such as first aid kits

However, successful promotion campaigns don’t happen by chance. To realize goals, promotional products programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained.

Why Use Promotional Products

Promotional products can be an effective tool to market your business. They can be used as an advertising material, a business gift, and incentive (or all of the above). Specifically, promotional products can be used to:

  • To thank customers for their business
  • To make prospects aware of the company, product or service
  • To provide a token of recognition for their loyalty or service to the company
  • To motivate customers, prospects and even partners to do a particular task
  • To acknowledge membership in a group (e.g. appreciated contributor)
  • To communicate non-marketing message such as announcement of a get-together

Numerous case studies document the effectiveness of promotional products. A study by the Promotional Products Association International entitled “High End, Low End: Which Promotional Products Work Best” find that for promotional products costing $25 or more:

“More than a fourth of respondents (27 percent) felt significantly more receptive to the company and its objective and 44 percent felt somewhat more receptive to the company and its objective.”

Studies often find that promotional products can increase the direct mail response up to 75%. One fast-food restaurant’s investment of $181 in promotional products resulted in more than $1,200 increase in food sales

How to Use Promotional Products

The most effective promotional products are used in a cohesive, well-planned campaign. To make sure that your promotional products are effective, here are keys to consider:

Define a specific objective.

Whether the goal is to increase traffic at a trade show exhibit or to boost sales with current clients, the first step in any campaign is to clarify the purpose of the program.

Determine a workable distribution plan to a targeted audience.

Distribution of a promotional product is as important as the item itself. Research shows that a carefully executed distribution plan significantly increases the effectiveness of promotional products. For example, a pre-show mailing to a select audience delivers more trade show traffic and qualified leads than simply distributing items to passerby at the show.

Create a central theme.

Linking a recognizable logo and color to all aspects of a campaign, from promotional products to sales sheets to product packaging, helps create an instantly recognizable image. Choose products that help underscore your marketing message and differentiate your company.

Develop a message to support the theme.

Supporting a campaign’s theme with a message helps to solidify a company’s name, service or products in the target audience’s mind. For instance, to promote its services to small businesses, a bank created the theme “Are you tired of being treated like a small fish?” and sent fish-related products to its prospects along with promotional literature.

Select a promotional product that bears a natural relationship to your profession or communications theme.

A good example is a company that developed a magic motif for its conference at Disney World. Attendees received magic-related products to tie in with the theme “Experience the magic at DisneyR.”

Choose products that your recipients will use.

Avoid trends or fads; as well as products that have a shorter shelf life. You’d want the recipients to keep the products you send, not toss them aside. According to a PPAI study, the factors that likely make promotional products desirable enough to be kept and used by the recipients are as follows:

  • Usefulness of the item
  • Quality of the item
  • Attractiveness of the item
  • Uniqueness of the item
  • Knowledge or impression of the company or person who gave the item

Personalize the item. More than your company logo, recipients prefer seeing their name on the products. To the extent possible, make it the best of both worlds – print your logo on the product as well as the recipients’ names.

Use a qualified promotional products consultant.

A good promotional products consultant will help you answer all of these questions as well as offer a variety of value-added services, including unique product ideas, creative distribution solutions and insight on the different imprinting methods just to name a few.



Steve Ma. Reyna writes for He is also in-charge of advertising for

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Category: Other Marketing Strategies

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