Dead Giveaways: How to Avoid a Lifeless Promotion

What’s the point of working your ass off on a promotion if it royally flops and brings you ZERO new customers? Besides having a touch of branding experience to show for it, your promotional efforts and your money would be wasted on low-attendance events or unwanted items. If your last promotion met an unfortunate end, then take a look at your logic before you blame your customers, the weather, or the products themselves. Your giveaway may have been dead on arrival! If you’re using promotional products to generate new leads and to inspire new conversations, then you need to pinpoint the best (and most logical) giveaway items before you hit that ORDER button.

I could blab on and on about the importance of knowing your target audience, but that’s already been said a billion-and-three times. Unless you conduct extensive research on your clients by spying on them or hacking into their computers, it can be a challenge to find a product that exactly matches their individual tastes. However, it is possible to find giveaway items that recipients would enjoy and understand…and it doesn’t take a ton of effort. Would you like to hear my advice? USE COMMON SENSE. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way – it’s really that easy!

Want a one-way ticket to Failtown? Go ahead and order personalized cigars for the participants in your Relay for Life group (it seems nuts, but you can bet that someone has done it). Choosing the wrong giveaway item can destroy your reputation and cause controversy. You may think it’s quirky or humorous to intentionally contradict your company message with a promotional item, but your customers will probably be confused. Be careful with mixed messages. There’s a fine line between humor and offense and you don’t want to cross it with your giveaways!

Bagged Candy

Choosing a dead-on-arrival giveaway item is as easy as taking candy from…your dentist.

The cigars were an extreme example of bad product selection, but let me provide you with a more reasonable one. How would you feel about a dentist who gives his patients a small bag of candy after each visit? I love candy as much as the next person, but I would feel weird taking sweets from someone who just spent an hour cleaning my teeth. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way, either. You may think it’s clever to provide goodies at your dental practice…but it’s really not. The kids may love you for it but parents will be whistling a different tune! A dentist’s office has plenty of marketing opportunities when it comes to giveaways and promotions, including custom dental floss, tooth-shaped stress relievers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, pill boxes, or dental kits…and those are just the obvious ones! Trust me, dentists and dental professionals, you can think of something much better than candy.

We all have common sense and we are all capable of using it to our advantage. You don’t need to be best friends with your intended audience to figure out what would make them happy! Empathize with your audience by taking what you already know about them (no matter how insignificant it may seem) and finding a promotional product that seems like a good match. For example, a customer in Seattle will probably appreciate a personalized umbrella or a well-made rain poncho. Customers of a travel agency are likely to use colorful luggage grippers or inflatable travel pillows from direct mail giveaways. This isn’t a foolproof method to determine the perfect giveaway item, but it’s a start. I don’t mean to insinuate that logic should always win over innovation, but it’s crucial to understand the difference between a creative promotion and a downright offensive one. There’s nothing wrong with being wacky (in fact, some of the most notable promotions have been wacky) as long as you use common sense and preserve the integrity of your brand while doing so!

Take charge of your promotions and giveaways instead of allowing them to defeat you! Do you have any more examples of lame or confusing promotions? What’s the craziest promotional item you’ve ever received in a giveaway? Comment below and don’t forget to visit us on Facebook and Twitter! Thanks for reading the Quality Logo Products blog. 🙂

Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.


  1. D-Rok

    It’s funny how important it can be to remind people of “common sense” things like this. We all overlook the obvious in our pursuit for innovation and progression. Thank you for reminding us not to get carried away!

  2. Vernon

    I can’t remember if I read about the company Blue Dot here or not, but I think that is one that kinda borders on madness.

    To everyone who doesn’t pickup furniture on the side of the road this sounds like a really good marketing promotion. To folks that get furniture this way, some may not want their face all over a documentary stating this is how they furnish their house.

  3. McFly

    I think a dentist that gives out candy just wants to get across the message that he/she would want to see you back sooner than later. =P

  4. Scooby DOO!

    The way to avoid a lifeless promotion is to, wait for it, CALL QLP.

    So get on it Kazanski!

  5. QLP Kid

    Cigars to a relay for life team…hahaha

  6. Big Boss Man

    Jill – I think you hit the nail on the head with this post.

    To often people worry about what is cool and what THEY want to order – FAILING to take into consideration what their customer’s REALLY want.

    I understand your logo is purple, and for branding purposes you want to add your logo to something that IS purple, but this doesn’t exactly mean that I, your customer, want a raging purple tote bag just because it has your logo on it.

    Sure everyone in the C-Suite likes to hit the green every time they can break away from the office, and they think it would be really cool idea to order some nice custom golf balls with their logo on them, but the customer they are intended for may have never played anything BUT Tiger Woods golf for XBOX.

    Take it from the Big Boss Man… If you want to buy something for yourself go visit EBay or Amazon and leave the product selection process to the real experts… Everyone at QLP! 🙂

  7. Marcus Wendt

    I wouldn’t take candy from MY dentist, that’s for sure! The most bizarre trade show gift I ever got was a battery operated fan. In the middle of January. In Colorado. Enough said! I liked this blog, thanks for sharing the info.

  8. Paul S.

    Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  9. QLP Jill

    Thank you all for the comments! 🙂

    @Vernon – You bring up an interesting point with the Blue Dot giveaway. It would be rather embarrassing to get featured in a documentary for picking up furniture…
    @McFly – Yep, that’s probably it! I think some dentists assume it would be a funny way to market themselves, but it sends extremely mixed messages.
    @Scooby – You got that right! 😉
    @QLP Kid – Hey, you KNOW that someone would be silly enough to do something like that!
    @Big Boss Man – First of all, you said “raging” and “purple” right next to each other, which I find hilarious. Second of all, thank you! It’s easy to focus on what YOU want instead of focusing on your customers’ wants.
    @Marcus – That IS a strange giveaway. They should have put more thought into that promotion, don’t you think?
    @D-Rok and @Paul – You’re welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  10. face cleansers

    Lovely! Very well-done! 🙂

  11. S.S.

    Thank you!!!! 1000 times!!!

  12. strategy sales

    Good post, I always like them!

  13. auto insurance

    wonderful post, thank you.

  14. BK

    thank you so much.

  15. Cheri U

    All of this is good information, thank you for sharing!

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