Corporate Gifts, Promotional Products,

Do Promotional Products Actually Work? 3 Crazy Facts

Yes or No?

Full Disclosure – I (the author) have been in the industry of selling promotional products for 18 years and have a vested interest in you buying them. But, do they work?

Well, to be honest, a large percentage of the time, NO. This is because people don’t use them properly.

Plastering your logo onto a promotional product and letting it find its way into the hands of just anyone is NOT an effective way to spend your promotional budget. But, does this really surprise anybody?

Fact 1 – An Estimated 60% Of Businesses Waste Money On Promotional Products

Do you think paying 100’s of dollars to put your business logo on sign (that sits on the outside of your nearby sports locale) is good advertising? Well, it’s not. And either is aimlessly spreading 1000’s of pens, magnets, or stubby holders.

You need to get the right product into the hands of the right person, complete with a clear call to action.

But, most people fail in at least 2 of these requirements.

Consider the following stats from a recent survey:

● 57% of people were able to remember the advertiser on a promotional mug, versus 32% for radio and a mere 28% for television
● 77% of consumers say the usefulness of a promotional item was the main motivator for them hanging on to it
● On average, recipients will keep promotional gifts for 6.6 months before tossing them

Coffee Mugs

A printed coffee mug can be a marketing success or disaster – Depending on if you get it right

Prospects remember these gifts (because they are physical items) more than other forms of marketing – so, you’ve got to make it count with the right impression.

As you can see, your item has huge potential if it is carefully thought-out, delivered to a person who will benefit from it, and is of high quality.

With an average lifespan of half a year, your promotional products need a Call To Action that spurs an immediate response – otherwise, these gifts will be spending most of that time as “shelf life.”

But, what about “getting the right item” into their hands? Well, 53% of the time, a more favourable impression of the brand was achieved by the promotion when the company hit just two of the three criteria we mentioned above. That’s right – approximately half the time. So, what happened the other forty-seven out of one hundred shots? The advertiser missed the mark and got the opposite result of the one intended.

You really need all three if you want this to work.

We know that sharing the pointers with you that will increase your success rate leads to you leveraging the power of promotional gifts more often – that’s why we’re here to help.

Brace yourself for this next fact though, because this one always seems to come as a shocker for many.


Fact 2 – The Cheaper The Product, The More Likely It Is To Be Wasted Money

Our clients say to us all the time: “Does anyone really care whether I give them a 50 cent pen or a $2 pen?” Perhaps they don’t… but you do.

I find the more clients spend on each promotional product, the more likely they are to get it right.


Engraved keyrings have a high perceived value at a relatively low cost per unit


Think corporate gift, rather than promotional product. Buy a smaller quantity of a better product and get it into the right hands with your Call To Action intact. Then, you are getting a real value for your promotional dollar.

In other words, put some skin in the game – but do it right.

Does your current supplier or even Payless Promotions really benefit (long-term) from you placing a huge order of “average” products?

The better question is, wouldn’t we prefer that your campaign is successful and you continue having profitable promotional runs? This is why my team and I recommend opting for quality rather than quantity.

You’ll never regret putting a quality corporate gift into the hands of a few – especially when the items were brilliantly crafted, well-executed and a great match for the recipients.

It’s always possible, however, to massively regret a round of haphazardly blasted, cheap promo items that get a new landfill named after your brand.

Fact 3 – There Is a (FREE) Easy Cheat Sheet

Three simple steps:

Step 1 – The right product
Surprisingly, this is the least important. Just make sure it is relevant to your business (or its product/service), to your client, and to the value of your relationship.

Using “elevator pitch” common sense:

Here’s an interesting thought – is this item a corporate gift you’d hand to them in person?

If you had a few moments of their attention, face-to-face, is this what you’d like to offer them? If not, don’t send it.

If so, would it come at the beginning, middle, or end of the conversation? Seems insignificant, but this changes the nature of the gift and the usefulness/effectiveness of the Call To Action.

At the beginning – this is an item you can talk about.

In the middle – the conversation is needed to gradually introduce the item without it being awkward

At the end – you’re either confident that they’ll contact you, or the gift is a way to politely end the conversation and move on to the next customer.

Pretend you’re having this engagement with your clients on an elevator when designing and planning the items you’ll ship.

Here’s what I’m getting at – the nicer and more appropriate the item, the easier it will be to get it right (confidently) in almost any situation, as well as getting them to take your CTA.

If the item is cheap or low-quality, you’ve got a lot of thinking to do before sending it out.

For an optimal balance of affordability and quality, view some of the items we’ve assorted here.

Step 2 – Get it into the hands of your ideal clients
There is no point in purchasing the perfect product and then giving it to your kids to hand out at school. Putting the right product in the wrong hands is almost as bad as sending a horrible product to your ideal clients – in terms of marketing spend.

You get no bonus points for the number of uninterested people you can peg with your promotional gifts.

Also, just because it’s a “gift” doesn’t mean it’ll be received that way – you might actually irritate a few people with what’s perceived as a thoughtless gesture.

Get it to the people it’s meant for with a targeted approach. Allocate a considerable lot of your budget to this alone.

Step 3 – Include a Call To Action – Go back to basics
What do you actually want them to do? “Call for a free quote today”; “Call to compare your home loan rate now”; “Call Us Today And Mention This Magnet When You Order For a 10% Discount”, etc, etc. Identifying your desired action is a critical first step in any successful promotional products campaign.

I’ve seen some clients get a little too fancy when it comes to marketing tactics – sometimes, all it takes is keeping it simple and sticking to the fundamentals. Getting back to basics will prove useful, every time.

Marketing works (or at least it has since the dawn of time) by telling the customer what you’d like them to do.

This CTA is the whole purpose of any promotional effort.

I’ve seen, countless times, business owners leave out some form of “ask” on their promo materials, items or gifts.

I’ll save you the suspense – it doesn’t work. Return to basics by providing something of value, demonstrating your understanding of your target market, and calling upon them to take an action.

Get a high-quality product into the right hands, and ask them for their business.



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