Promotional products — commonly called swag, promo items, or merch — are branded items given away or sold to consumers. Examples of promotional products might include pens, reusable tote bags, water bottles, or T-shirts.
Giving away products for free seems like a counteractive move for a company that wants to increase revenue. However, studies have shown that most people keep promotional products for an average of nearly 8 months, and often give the product to someone else when they’re done with it. Furthermore, 85% of worldwide consumers who receive a promo item from a company remembered the brand name. Promotional products can spread a company’s message or increase brand awareness at a low cost.
But it’s important to choose the right promotional products for your brand to make sure your promotional products have lasting power with consumers. That’s why it’s so important to:
- Understand your consumers
- Create products that represent your brand and message
- Consider your product’s design and functionality
- Work with a trusted vendor to create a great product
Below, you’ll find some great examples and tips to help you narrow in on exactly which promotional products you should be choosing.
Step 1: Understand Your Consumers
Your company should be catering to a specific target market, so it’s important to know what that target market wants. If most of your consumers are parents or families, think about creating tote bags or mugs. If you mainly sell to outdoorsy young men or women, consider creating sunglasses or hats. For office workers or business entrepreneurs, you might create branded USB drives, power banks, or pens. When a promotional product fulfills the needs of your consumers, they are more likely to keep it and use it. The more useful something is, the more likely your promotional product will be used for longer, creating stronger brand awareness for your company.
Step 2: Create Products That Represent Your Brand and Message
Now that you’ve thought about your consumer’s needs, think about your company’s brand and message. The right promotional products should go hand-in-hand with your company’s mission. T-shirts are a common promotional product because a large quantity can be inexpensive to produce outside of the United States. However, T-shirts might not be the best idea for a company that advocates locally crafted, American-made products. Similarly, beverage holders or bottle openers wouldn’t work well for a company that caters to young children. A reusable tote bag made from recycled materials, on the other hand, would be an effective promo item for an environmental industry event. A tech company that advertises health and work-life balance could use lip balm, small gym towels, or mini hand sanitizers as promo products. Creating the right product will elevate your brand and please your consumers, so make sure your promotional products reflect your company (and its values) accurately.
Step 3: Consider Your Product’s Design and Color
You’ve chosen a product type that will appeal to consumers and spread your company’s message. Now, think about how you want your product to function and look. Since the product is representing your company, you’ll likely want to use logos and assets that expand your brand’s reach, rather than keep someone else’s logo (or no logo) on the product.
However, you can also use this as an opportunity to get creative with a new design or idea. Maybe your company has recently gone through a rebrand and you want to use a new logo or a different color palette to see if a new promo item performs better than previous ones. Using the right colors is a simple way to make a lasting impression. While your brand colors should remain consistent, you may consider the color of your product: Do you want your consumers to feel excited and energetic when they think of your brand? Use red. Do you want to be seen as tranquil or trustworthy? Pick blue. Are health and sustainability part of your company’s mission? Choose green. Color will play a big part in the design of your promotional product, so make sure you use them wisely.
Step 4: Work With a Trusted Partner
Once you’ve chosen the product and its design, it’s time to find a vendor that can fulfill your order — and become a trusted partner for future needs. To have the best experience possible, it’s a good idea to make a list of what you want from a vendor that designs your product.
You might consider:
- How often and through which mediums you want the vendor to communicate. If you prefer scheduled face-to-face meetings and frequent phone calls, it might not be best to work with someone who can only chat via email.
- The company’s reputation. Do they have good reviews from other partners? If they’ve had to deal with difficult changes or scandals, how did they handle it?
- Their work. Do you like how they source materials? Do they have apparel or product sizing that will meet your needs?
- The cost. It’s important to consider costs beyond just their regular rates. Think about savings for time or labor, the cost of the product, or additional costs like rush shipping.
Choosing a partner to create your products can be daunting. But when you choose the right vendor, it can lay the foundation for a fruitful partnership.
Success With Promotional Products
Using promotional products as part of your marketing strategy is an effective, low-cost way to increase your brand visibility and spread your company’s message. The right promo item for your company will meet your consumer’s needs and reflect your brand accurately. To design your product, be sure to partner with a vendor you trust and harmonize with. Most of all, remember that so many companies go the “traditional” route, choosing the most cost-effective or common promotional products. If you want your brand to stand out, make sure to evaluate each of the above steps to find a product that’s truly reflective of what your company offers.