How to choose effective promotional products

Promotional products find their way into our homes and our lives, carrying the names and messages of the companies who’ve released them into the wild. You may not realise just how many of these items you own, but a quick check of the pen-pot on the desk or the mug-shelf in the kitchen usually reveals more of them than you’d expect.

According to statistics, eight out of ten consumers own between one and ten promotional products, while fifty-three per cent use one at least once a week. Six in ten keep these products for up to two years, and only one in five will throw away an unwanted product – most will pass them on for someone else to use.

So at a time when marketing budgets are being trimmed (and here’s why we recommend they shouldn’t be, by the way), it’s clear promotional products can play a key part in ensuring you get effective, long-lasting exposure for your brand.

It’s clear that promotional products are both effective and holding their own in the face of competition from newer forms of marketing. And there’s a huge industry behind them, commissioning research and offering a bewildering range of items.

So, in a world where brand recognition has never been more important, how do you choose the most effective promotional products, the ones people will actually keep, appreciate and remember you for? Here’s five factors you should consider to ensure success…


Have a clear purpose in mind before you start looking.

What do you want this gift to do for you? If you’re thanking a valuable client to wish to cement the relationship and build long-term loyalty, you’ll need to think in terms of luxury and subtle branding techniques.

However, if you’re launching a new product and want to inform potential customers about it, you’ll probably need something that can carry information and more distinctive branding than just your name. (That’s one reason why we love a notebook – it can convey so much in a single object.)


Consider what your target audience will find useful.

77% of consumers say a promotional product’s usefulness is the most important reason to keep it. So you need to understand your audience and the way people live and work. For instance, a branded paintbrush would delight an interior designer – a fashion designer, probably not so much.

Personalised pain brushes - and effective promotional product for some

Your gift can be for immediate or long-term use; for example, if you are hosting a training seminar you know a notebook and pen are likely to be put to good use right away.

An up-market cosmetics and skincare store, on the other hand, recently sent out a beautiful leather passport cover, from an equally prestigious luxury goods company, as part of a promotional gift. They knew their customers would not only appreciate the quality and high-fashion colour, but were likely to have the income to support frequent international travel over the longer term. (The brand’s name was foil-stamped on the front inside flap, and the maker’s on the back cover – an ‘open-and-shut’ case for subtlety, collaboration and style!)

People hold on to useful products like these, and that reinforces and maximises the benefit to you. And as one branding site reminds us about promotional products, “… as long as they’re being used, they’ll stand out in any crowd!”


Think about your brand and what it stands for.

Your product should be relevant and represent your values, so don’t focus on its desirability to the exclusion of everything else. The product you choose will be acting as a brand ambassador for you out in the world, without you there to introduce or explain it, so it needs to chime perfectly with your ethos.

If you’re in the health and fitness industry, for example, sending sweets or chocolates isn’t brand-consistent. Nor, of course, are items made of single-use plastic, if you’re a renewable-energy supplier.


Assess the quality and design of the options you’re considering.

Don’t assume that a low budget means you have to settle for ’tat’. Let’s face it, no-one wants to receive tat – it doesn’t suggest you value the recipient very highly. It’s possible (dare we say, probable) you’ll alienate people by giving them something cheap and badly made, due to the wastefulness and lack of ecological awareness this implies.

A negative reaction to your product runs a real risk of turning into negative thoughts about your brand. So if you have a limited budget, opt for a more modest item – but ensure it’s well made. If you can’t afford to send someone the chic leather laptop bag that’s caught your eye, a cheap-and-nasty nylon version with poor stitching is not a good substitute. Instead, opt for a business card holder or travel-card holder in leather. Scaling back is fine, but don’t skimp on quality – small but beautiful is a much better way to go.


Factor in the method of delivery.

Even if you have chosen what you think will be the perfect product based on the above, don’t forget to consider how the item will be distributed.

If your items are being mailed out you need to allow for this. Heavy items can add significantly to your budget, odd-shaped items can cause you a headache too and delicate products need to have specialist protective packaging. If you don’t think this through and plan for it before ordering your products, your project could end up massively over budget or you could end up sending recipients a broken item – neither of which is good.


Packaging up promotional goods to ship

So there you have it; consider these five factors and you should end up with effective promotional products that work for you and delight your lucky recipients.

Talk to us if you think branded notebooks, diaries and pens would fit your needs and be treasured by your target market.