Using Custom Promotional Items to Get the Word Out About Your Business

Print, TV, and radio advertising used to be the standard way of getting your business’s name out there. Although web and word-of-mouth marketing has become more valuable than ever, there’s another way to promote your company to potential customers: promotional items.

Choices range from simple, inexpensive items such as pens, magnets, and even coffee mugs to bigger investments like T-shirts, blankets, and logo mats.

According to an article in the New York Times, American businesses spend $20 billion a year on giving away custom logo items. It creates a sense of reciprocation – if a potential customer is given something, they tend to feel the need to give something back, even if it’s just signing up for your company newsletter or listening to a short sales pitch.

The key, however, is to make sure the items are something your customer won’t just throw away.


When mapping out your marketing strategy, consider promotional items.

First, invest in items that have your potential customer in mind. If your demographic is stay-at-home moms, an office supply item won’t be of much use to them. Along the same lines, if your potential customers are CEOs, they won’t want a chip-clip or other home items. Certain items – coffee cups, water bottles – are universal; others are not.

Next, consider the price of your items. You don’t want to break your budget, but research done by Promotional Products Association International found that the majority of items perceived to be less than $5 in value didn’t have as positive of a reaction as higher-end items costing $25 or more. This might not be much of a surprise to you, but recipients who were given the less-expensive items typically believed they were simply being targeted for advertising purposes. The study showed only one-third of recipients had a positive reaction to the items.


After making a deal, sweeten the pot with some high-end promotional items.

Along the same lines, consider how you’re distributing these promotional items. If you’re simply setting up booths at local fairs and festivals to cater to the general population, lower-end items might be more appropriate. These are the customers who won’t mind being targeted for advertising purposes.

However, if you’re dealing one-on-one with clients and want to give the impression that you’re also giving a thank-you gift, higher-end products might be preferable – you might even want to consider products that can be monogrammed or personalized with your customer’s name, along with the company name or logo.

When you’re ordering promotional items, which can be purchased at a myriad of specialty websites, don’t forget key pieces of information: your company name and logo, of course, but also a website or phone number so the customer can reach out to you. If you have a slogan or short description of what your company does, that’s helpful, too – after all, you don’t want the customer to look at their promotional product and forget what services the company behind it offers.

The investment into promotional products can be as small or large as you want it. The return, however, can be more than you expected.

Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., metro area. She has a degree in journalism.

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