Today’s businesses have seemingly unlimited ways to market themselves. Facebook ads. Google AdWords. Billboards. Super Bowl commercials. The question most marketers seem to be asking themselves is not just “What marketing method is right for this business?” but also “How much is it going to cost?” More than ever, marketers are concerned with getting eyes on their ads for the best price. Sure, you can boost an ad on Facebook for $5, but will anyone take the time to read it? More importantly, will anyone buy or use the product after seeing your ads?

When you’re looking for a cost-effective marketing idea that’s going to get your message or product in front of tons of customers, promotional products are a great way to enhance your marketing campaign. There’s a product that matches the personality of every brand – tens of thousands of products, in fact. Promotional products are a simple, affordable, and practical way to get your name out to prospective customers.

According to the Ad Specialty Institute (a marketing and education organization serving the promotional products industry), it’s hard to beat promotional products when it comes to cost per brand impression. Brand impressions are defined as any time an ad is viewed or seen. Every car insurance commercial you see during the 7 o’clock news is one brand impression.

Where TV and magazine ads both cost 1.8 cents per impression, ad specialties (promo products) cost an average of .6 cents per impression. Impression costs for social media depend on varying factors like how many followers an account has and how much a business spends to manage ads. So in some cases, social media or internet ads might cost less per impression, but one research study notes that the cost of CPMs – the cost per thousand impressions – is on the rise, from $3.17 in 2012 to a projected $6.64 in 2017.

Looking at data provided by the Nielsen Company, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, and Columbus Dispatch, we were able to see just how some promotional products stack up against other forms of advertising based on how many brand impressions one marketing dollar can get a company.


You read that right – bags get 1,000 impressions per $1 spent when billboards only get 500. That number drops down further as you go to TV, radio, and magazines.

ASI also notes that, “promotional products deliver the same or better ROI than most other forms of media, without the interruption inherent with other forms of advertising.” Customers can fast forward through commercials for shows they record to their DVR or take an alternative route that bypasses your billboard, but they can’t ignore your logo on a shirt or brand name printed on a pen they use at their desk every day.

So just which promotional products are getting the most bang for your buck? Some simple math shows how much it costs to get eyes on your brand. ASI defines the number of impressions a product can earn a brand by “multiplying how long a recipient has the product to how many people [the recipient] comes into contact with each month while using it.” In the U.S., bags generated the most impressions – almost 6,000! Bags show off your brand to a ton of people because they’re used both frequently and in high-traffic public places. Other high-impression items include anything that gets daily or regular use or wear, such as writing instruments, caps, outerwear, calendars, and shirts.


Here are some other ways that promotional products build more brand impressions than traditional advertising:

  • Promotional products are kept an average of seven months – that’s over half a year of continued use in people’s home and offices. Having a product that long means reinforced brand exposure over a good stretch of time.
  • Most people pass on their promotional products. In 2013, 63% of people reported giving promotional products to someone else when they no longer had a use for it. That means your brand’s message goes beyond the initial market.
  • Between items like pens, shirts, drinkware, magnets, and tote bags, the average consumer owns about ten different promotional products at a time.
  • 53% of recipients feel favorably towards an advertiser that gives out promo products, and 36% of people who receive promotional products reported they would likely do business with the company that gave them the items.

If your brand can’t afford a clever commercial campaign, or you’re just tired of not getting results with banner ads, promotional products can help you make a great impression. Because promotional products get shared and gifted and build goodwill with customers, they definitely get people talking about your business and products. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising, so get your customers talking with a personalized promotional item that’s bound to boost your brand exposure!

Quality Logo Products®

are experts on all things printed and promotional. Let our team of awesome, incredibly good looking, and fun promo nerds help you select awesome promotional swag today!