While working at Menards, I got my fair share of promotional products. For holidays (from Christmas and Thanksgiving to Columbus Day and Labor Day) and birthdays, John Menard would send a little gift in the mail to each and every employee as a thank you. Sometimes we’d get things like personalized ornaments (like the one you see in this post’s main image) and sometimes we’d get smaller items like pens or cups. Either way, that is a lot of gifts considering Menards has more than 45,000 employees!
I know this may sound awesome to some of you, and at times it was. But, many times we were sent things that we really had no use for. I will list a few examples of the good and the not-so-good so you can see what I mean.
Company Giveaways That Didn’t Quite Deliver:
Race Car Replica in Case: For random holidays, Menards employees would receive souvenir race cars. This was a repeat gift, so let’s just say I have many Menards race cars from the five years I worked there! This is a cool gift for some people (mainly those that are big race car fans, and particularly of Paul Menard), but this kind of gift wasn’t for everyone.
Embroidered Hats: We would often receive hats in the mail from Menards. I know what everyone is thinking — hats are awesome, so why not? Well, they would be if employees were actually allowed to wear them in the store. I would have enjoyed wearing a hat to my place of employment, but I most likely would not ever wear a bright green logo hat outside of Menards!
Champagne Flutes: One year, everyone in the company received champagne flutes. I am sure a percentage of Menards employees enjoyed that. If I received that now, I most definitely would. However, if you choose this route, then you have to keep your underage employees in mind as well. Menards had thousands of employees who were under 21 and couldn’t (or, at least shouldn’t) make use of this gift’s true purpose.
See what I mean now? The above products were not useful for many of the company’s employees, but Menards may have taken that into account and used it as a strategy. For example, many of us would just give away half of the stuff we got because it was not useful to us (or because we had several already); instead of throwing them away, we gave them to people who did enjoy them (my grandpa and dad got a lot of the stuff I had received). So, duplicate company merchandise isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it’s another way for companies to expand their promotional strategies!
Company Giveaways That Delivered:
Logo Pens: Pens were required as part of our work uniform at Menards for many different tasks. We would all lose them, customers would accidentally (sometimes purposely) take them while signing, or we would break them. So when we would get pens in the mail, it was a plus because we knew we’d be set for a while.
Personalized T-Shirts: T-shirts were probably a favorite shared by most employees. We were all required to wear collared shirts every day to work, but on certain holidays we would receive a t-shirt in the mail that we could wear to work for a certain amount of time. It was nice to be able to wear something a little more comfortable at work every now and then!
We also received planners, calendars, plastic cups, mugs, pizza cutters, lunch boxes, and decks of cards over the years. Once in a while, they’d go above and beyond and personalize something amazing, like the ice scraper with a glove attached to it (one of my favorites). These aren’t all things we necessarily could use at work, but they were all nice little gifts that we all could make use of at home.
Quick tips for employee gifts, rewards, and incentives:
- Think of what you’d like to receive as a gift before giving it to employees.
- For evergreen giveaways (aka timeless products), pick something that can be used all year round.
- For season-specific incentives, consider what would be the most useful to your staff in their primary climate.
- Provide employees with a reason to wear or use your company items! If you give away hats like Menards did, then think about having a casual-dress day once in a while so people can actually take advantage.
All of the promotional products that Menards sent were beneficial in some way, whether it was a gift to the employees, a convenience to use at work, or just a way to promote their business a little bit. Even though they gave away some iffy gifts and duplicates, they also sent us swag that was actually useful to us. Can you say the same for your company?
What’s the best promotional product you’ve ever gotten from an employer? Do you have any insights on Menards’ employee gift strategy? Any other takeaways?