What are promotional products and why should I care? It’s a question that’s worth asking, especially if you’re a business owner with a marketing budget. After all, there are plenty of other ad strategies you can try, from billboards and commercials to sponsored Facebook posts. So why should you spend your hard-earned cash on promotional items?

The answer can be found in the alphabet! Go from “A” to “Z” to learn all there is to know about this marketing strategy.

A is for Affordable Advertising

Even if you’re a Mom & Pop shop and not a Fortune 500 company, you can afford to buy promotional products. This is a big deal after COVID-19 when many small businesses were hit hard and were even forced to close for good. In fact, 60% of closures due to the pandemic are now permanent according to CNBC.

So does your business only have about $200 to spend? Congrats – that’s enough for 500+ branded pens! Got a bit more in the bank? Splurge on high-end items like custom jackets or wireless speakers. No matter what, there are great logo promotional items for every budget!

B is for Bulk Orders

Wholesale, in mass, oodles…however you want to put it, you will likely buy promotional items in bulk. The good news is personalized water bottles, sticky notes, and other giveaways don’t have an expiration date! Keep them in your stockroom, and you have years and years of advertising ahead of you.

C is for Customization

Think of it this way. Your favorite t-shirt is probably printed with a graphic design, whether it’s a band logo, movie quote, or cute pic of a kitten. Customization makes even the most ordinary items more special, so go nuts! The better your design, the bigger the impact from your promotional products.

D is for Drinkware

Who doesn’t start their morning with coffee, or carry a water bottle to the gym? People get a ton of use from these items, which is why drinkware gets more than 1,400 impressions in its lifetime.

From custom mugs, and travel tumblers to plastic cups and shot glasses, these are some of the best promotional products out there! They will stay in a person’s kitchen cabinet for use and will be used for everything from lunch breaks to after-school snacks.

E is for Engraving

An etched design is perfect for a ton of occasions, whether it’s engraved keychains for an anniversary, plaques for an award ceremony, or wine glasses for a banquet. Give this decorating technique a try if you want promotional giveaways that are more classy, long-lasting, and refined.

F is for Favors for Weddings, Reunions, & Other Events

Source: etsy.com

It’s not all business! Promotional products are also commonly ordered as party favors. These custom items may just show up in the goody bags at weddings, family reunions, birthdays, baby showers, graduations, and many other milestone events.

G is for Gifts & Giveaways

You can use promotional items in a ton of different ways. First of all, they’re excellent for holiday gift-giving. Dad, mom, and Great Aunt Sue will love a personalized teddy bear, jacket, or scented candle! Second, they’re wonderful free giveaways at events like fundraisers, 5Ks, or college job fairs. Drawstring bags or baseball caps are surefire winners!

Finally, logoed items make wonderful items that you can sell in your gift shop or at your merch tent at a concert, fair, or festival. People enjoy showing off their love for certain brands or properties, which explains why 85% of people have bought custom branded merchandise at some point.

H is for Happy Feelings & Good Vibes

Freebies always yield happy feelings, and people can’t help but be excited about them. Want proof? Psychology Today published a study proving how this works. When participants were asked to choose between a Lindt truffle for 26 cents, and a lower-quality Hershey’s Kiss for 1 cent, they didn’t mind going for the truffle. However, when the cost was lowered by 1 cent, a majority of the participants went with the free Hershey’s Kiss instead!

It just goes to show that free elicits big smiles and happy feelings. You can’t go wrong handing out promotional giveaways to an audience, whether it’s at a trade show or grand opening.

I is for Instagram Pics

Source: @gowestward

Over 1 billion people are active users on Instagram. This social media platform is a favorite among millennials and Gen Z’ers, and these folks absolutely love posing pics of their custom merch!

You’ll see custom water bottles on the beach, cool koozies at a concert, and personalized whiskey glasses from distillery tours. All of that exposure means more eyes on your brand, and you’ll be known as the company that gives out or sells awesome swag and merch!

J is for Justifiable ROI

There’s a stigma in the promotional products industry where some naysayers think of this stuff as “trinkets & trash.” Don’t let those bad eggs spoil your experience!

85% of people do business with a company after receiving one of their promotional products. This strategy has a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other form of advertising.

K is for Kitchenware

We were all stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many restaurants were forced to temporarily or permanently close. This has led to 53% of people now eating at home more frequently.

The heart of the home is the kitchen, so make sure your brand is part of every meal. You can’t go wrong with cups, ice cream scoopers, reusable food containers, or bamboo cutting boards.

L is for Low Minimum Orders

As mentioned, most of the time you will order promotional products in bulk. But that doesn’t mean you always have to buy a bunch at one time. Low minimum promotional products are a good option if you have a small event and don’t want a ton of leftovers.

M is for Merch for Bands, Restaurants, Gyms, Tourist Attractions, Etc.

Source: imgur.com

The market for licensed merchandise is expected to reach over $396 billion by 2023. Fans of your brand will buy promotional items at your restaurant, gym, arcade,, zoo, resort, or concert. Just set it up in a tent or gift shop, and it will sell itself!

N is for New & Trendy Items

Promotional products companies are always on the ball when it comes to trends. When face masks became a must during the COVID-19 pandemic, distributors started offering personalized options on their websites. With the rise of legal cannabis, grinders, rolling paper, and other accessories became available. You can basically add your logo to anything, and that includes the latest and greatest items.

O is for Online Ordering

Back in the day, promotional products had to be ordered via catalog. Now everything is digital! Fire up your laptop and you can add text, photo, or your logo to napkins, badge holders, hats, mouse pads, and anything else you may want with just a few clicks.

An estimated 1.8 billion consumers bought goods online as of 2018. People want to be able to buy everything from groceries to business promotional items from their laptop, or better yet, cell phone.

P is for Personalized & 100% Yours

Promotional products are reflective of your personal experiences and interests, whether you love skiing so buy a beanie hat from your favorite lodge, or you shop organic and now use the reusable grocery bag you got for free at a farmer’s market all the time. These items can’t be replaced easily or found at a store, which is why people hold onto them anywhere between 8 months and 10 years.

Q is for Quality Logo Products

The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) ranked Quality Logo Products#38 on their list of top distributors for 2020. There are over 30,000 distributors out there, so this puts us in the top 0.12% in the world.

We care about making your order fast, easy, and fun. You get to work one-on-one with your own sales rep, there are ZERO hidden fees to throw off your budget, and we also make a few bad jokes along the way. It’s going to be a good time and a painless experience!

R is for Reusable Time & Time Again

We all need a pen, towel, magnet, or Frisbee at some point. Why not grab one that has a logo printed on it and that you maybe got for free?! Your customers can’t use a Facebook ad, or and you’re hard-pressed to find anyone who has a billboard at home. Consumers can, however, use promotional items in their day-to-day lives. Every interaction with your brand matters!

S is for Screen Printing

Your logo or company name doesn’t just magically appear on the promotional products. A good chunk of these items are customized via screen printing, a process that was first used in ancient China in the beginning of the 20th century. The printed ink is long-lasting and vibrant, which makes for stylish promotional products that are impossible not to notice!

T is for Trade Shows

Trade shows and promotional products go hand in hand, kind of like peanut butter & jelly or Hall & Oates. Business order them as giveaways for the crowd, whether it’s something small like bag clips or something more high-end like stainless steel travel mugs.

Trade show attendees spend 8.3 hours visiting the booths and displays, and 30% of them will wear or use the swag items they receive. This makes coming to the trade show with some kind of promotional gifts a no-brainer.

U is for Under $1

A majority of businesses spend between 20% and 30% of their annual budget on advertising. In the grand scheme of things, promotional products are one of the most affordable options. You can even get a ton of cool giveaways for under $1 each, which means more bang for your buck!

Source: mms.com

You can get promotional products from truly incredible, well-known brands like Bic, Sharpie, Puma, and M&Ms.

Plus, there are a ton of lesser known, but equally awesome vendors who work on your orders. Some of our favorites include: Hit Promotional, Prime Line, and Gold Bond!

W is for Win Over the Crowd

Every generation, from Baby Boomers to Gen Z’ers, love promotional products. In fact, they’re regarded as the #1 form of advertising across all generations.

People love buying merch, and even more, receiving it for free. Promote any cool promotional items or freebies you’re offering on social media, and just like that you’ll get attention from a whole new audience!

X is for X Marks the Spot

Searching for promotional products can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are over thousands of distributors out there and most of them have over 50,000 products.

Luckily, you can whittle it all down by reading reviews first and working only with the companies that will treat you right and provide the experience you deserve! From there, choose promotional products that provide value to your business or event.

Y is for Youth Appeal

Kids love promotional products, too! Even if they can’t read, they can get your marketing message loud and clear when you hand them free promotional gifts.

Are you a company like LEGO or Disney who has children as your target audience? Be sure to have a ton of cute promotional items to offer, from baby onesies to toys to coloring books!

Z is for Zippered Bags

Bags are very popular promotional items. They are found at grocery stores, theme parks, school bookstores, and at the entrance at conventions and expos.

From tote bags to backpacks, you’ll find them everywhere, which means customers might not hold onto them if they don’t have some kind of bonus feature. Zippered pockets are a good way to go!

The future of the swag industry is looking brighter than ever before. If you haven’t tried promotional items yet, now is a great time to start!

Get t-shirts printed with your company name, host a social media campaign and offer free giveaways, or open a pop-up shop with cute merch. Whatever you do, this is an ad strategy that will pay off for your business in the long run!

References

Specialty Advertising Association. The Promotional Products Industry. Retrieved from, https://saagny.org/About-the-Promotional-Products-Industry/

Joyner, J. (2019, March 1). What is the Average Marketing and Advertising Budget for a Company? Retrieved from, https://smallbusiness.chron.com/average-marketing-advertising-budget-company-30993.html

Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). (2020). Global Ad Impressions Study. Retrieved from, https://media.asicentral.com/resources/2020-Global-Ad-Impressions-Study.pdf

Sage World. (2015, April 30). 25 Insane (But True) Facts About Promotional Products. Retrieved from, https://www.sageworld.com/blog/index.php/2015/04/30/25-insane-but-true-facts-about-promotional-products/

Krockow, E. (2019, August 8). Why We Love Free Stuff Too Much. Retrieved from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stretching-theory/201908/why-we-love-free-stuff-too-much

Clement, J. (2020, November 24). Number of Monthly Active Instagram Users From January 2018 to June 2018. Retrieved from, https://www.statista.com/statistics/253577/number-of-monthly-active-instagram-users/

Business Wire. (2018, October 5). Global Licensed Merchandise Market to Reach $396.5 Billion By 2023. Retrieved from, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181005005213/en/Global-Licensed-Merchandise-Market-Reach-396.5-Billion

Wood, M. (2017, December 14). Branded Giveaways and Other Promotional Products: Do They Still Have an Impact? Retrieved from, https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2017/12/14/branded-giveaways-and-other-promotional-products-do-they-still-have-an-impact/?sh=ac3bf8077903

Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). (2020, July 22). Top 40 Distributors 2020. Retrieved from, https://www.asicentral.com/news/web-exclusive/july-2020/top-40-distributors-2020/

Thimmesch, M. (2013, August 17). 16 Powerful Stats on the Value of Trade Shows. Retrieved from, https://www.tsnn.com/blog/16-powerful-stats-value-trade-shows

Shea, K. (2018, October 30). Research: Citi CMO Offers Four Insights on the Link Between Events and Brand Loyalty. Retrieved from, https://www.eventmarketer.com/article/research-citi-cmo-insights-link-events-brand-loyalty/

Sundaram, A. (2020, December 11). Yelp Data Shows 60% of Business Closures Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic Are Now Permanent. Retrieved from, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/16/yelp-data-shows-60percent-of-business-closures-due-to-the-coronavirus-pandemic-are-now-permanent.html

Prodigi. (2020, February 7). The Big Branded Merchandise Survey 2019. Retrieved from, https://www.prodigi.com/blog/the-big-branded-merchandise-survey-2019/ Mohsin, M. (2020, March 23). 10 Online Shopping Statistics You Need to Know in 2021. Retrieved from, https://www.oberlo.com/blog/online-shopping-statistics

About the author

Bret Bonnet

Bret Bonnet is the president and founder of Quality Logo Products. He started the company in 2003 while he was still in college. Now QLP is one of the top distributors of promotional products in the country.