Promotional Product Marketing Blog

Learn the best ways to market your brand with the use of promotional marketing products. Our blog gives you the best tips on ordering the right marketing merchandise to increase brand awareness within your target market. From creative marketing ideas to case studies of how others have used promotional items to promote their brand, we give you clear direction in aligning your promotional product campaign with your overall business goals.


9 Myths About Promotional Products – Busted


There are always some interesting myths swirling around about promotional products. Some marketers can spot these myths from a mile away and don’t give them any consideration.

But others are quick to latch on to the misconceptions. They become wary about using promotional products. They doubt the effectiveness of promos and sometimes write them off altogether.

When marketers put stock in the myths they hear, they’re missing out. Big time. In this blog post, we shatter nine common myths about promotional products. Read on for the myths and why they’re busted.

Myth #1: People don’t really use promotional products.

Why it’s perpetuated:

There are so many branded items out in the world, people simply don’t have use for them all. They can’t possibly use all the logo tumblers, t-shirts, and tote bags that marketers fling their way. Right? Wrong.

Why this myth is busted:

People love free stuff. And we mean love it. Eighty-three percent of consumers like receiving a promotional product with an advertising message, according to Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), and 53% of consumers use a promotional item at least once a week or more.

So go ahead – give people what they want. Unleash the promos on them. Just make sure they’re useful to your audience and relevant to your brand. Read this blog post on the do’s and don’ts of using promotional products.

promotional products myths: busted


Myth #2: You can’t measure the ROI of promotional items.

Why it’s perpetuated:

It’s impossible to know if all of your branded swag is really working. You hand out hundreds (or thousands) of bottles of hand sanitizer at a tradeshow. You freely give out tote bags at a career fair. You’re up to your ears in promotional pens – and you’ve been giving them out for years.

You can’t keep track of all of these giveaways and pinpoint their value – or at least that’s how it might seem.

Why this myth is busted:

Promotional products are completely (and easily) trackable. You just have to take the time to do it. You’re measuring the ROI of your other marketing efforts – don’t let promotional items fall to the wayside because you’re unsure how to track their effectiveness.

Some simple ways to measure the ROI of promotional products include:

1. QR codes (or, at the very least, unique URLs).

Create a landing page for your promotion and print the URL or a QR code (here’s more on how to do this) on your promotional giveaways. Voila – you can now track the hits/leads/sales that came directly from the products. See how simple that was?

2. Phone numbers.

If you’d rather speak to prospects than drive them to a website, just put a twist on the first idea by printing a new phone number on your promotional products. It’s easy to measure how many calls came in as a result of the giveaways.

3. A solid CTA.

When it comes to tracking promotional products, a CTA (call-to-action) is a must. Why? Because a CTA makes it super simple to measure the effectiveness of your giveaways. Print an offer directly on your promotional products, and you can see the kind of traffic it generates.

Test out different offers on different products. Dunkin’ Donuts is offering 99-cent refills when coffee fans bring in its promo tumblers, but you can offer any perk – a BOGO offer when you bring in a promotional Frisbee, 10% off your next purchase by wearing a promotional cap in store, half-price manicure when you bring in a custom nail file. (That sounds nice, right?)

Make your CTA simple and appealing, and recipients will take you up on your offer.

promo tumbler

Myth #3: Promotional products are too expensive.

Why it’s perpetuated:

Many marketers get a little sweaty-palmed when it comes to budgets. They think: “I barely have any money to promote my business … how can I afford promotional products?” As a result, promos are sometimes seen as frivolous, unnecessary.

The thing is, though, it’s not about the products – it’s about researching, planning, managing, and tracking. You’re not just throwing money into a bunch of branded merchandise and hoping for the best – you’re making an investment in building your brand.

Why this myth is busted:

Promotional products are one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising. They have a lower cost-per-impression (CPI) in the U.S. than prime-time TV advertising, national magazine advertising, and newspaper ads, and they have a similar CPI to spot radio and online ads, according to the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI).

The average CPI of a promotional product is just $.005, according to ASI. For a small investment, you can get the same type of exposure as businesses with bigger budgets. Your marketing dollars go a whole lot further with promotional products than with other forms of media. If you think you don’t have the budget for promo items, just take a look at these sale items.

promotional products myths: busted


Myth #4: Cheap is the way to go.

Why it’s perpetuated:

When it comes to promotional products, marketers sometimes have a one-track mind. All they want to do is get their logo in front of as many people as possible. To accomplish this, they seek out the cheapest products, never pausing to think about the impact on their brands.

Price should never be your only consideration. The products you choose are representative of your brand. Pick cheap promos, and that’s how your business will be viewed.

Why this myth is busted:

Cheaper is not always better. You’re purchasing branded merchandise – not a new phone plan. Promotional products make a lasting impression on recipients. More than three-quarters of people can recall the advertiser’s name on a promotional product they had received in the last 12 months, according to PPAI.

What you give people sticks in their minds. Do you want your brand to be associated with cheap throwaway items that will likely end up in the trash, or do you want people to associate your brand with useful, innovative promotional items that are relevant and targeted to their needs? Don’t go cheap just to save a few bucks up front. It doesn’t do anything to help your brand.

promotional products myths: busted


Myth #5: It’s better to invest in mainstream media.

Why it’s perpetuated:

TV ads get all the glory. Just think about the buzz that Super Bowl spots generate. Don’t forget about radio spots and print ads. Marketers go to great lengths (read: invest heaps of money with ad agencies) to churn out ads in these old-school mediums.

Well, guess what. The tides have turned when it comes to traditional forms of advertising. Mainstream media is swiftly losing its appeal – and its effectiveness. PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that traditional media advertising will decline by a 1.5% annual rate through 2017.

Why this myth is busted:

To get your message across today, you have to be personal. You must focus on the individual. Promotional products allow your brand to get so up close with customers that your logo is in the palm of their hands.

Consumers can skip past or tune out other forms of advertising. (Who actually sits through traditional commericals these days – unless it’s during the Super Bowl?)

But promotional products stick with them. Eighty-nine percent of consumers can recall the name of an advertiser on a promotional product they received in the last 24 months, according to PPAI research.

Customers can fill up that custom coffee mug every morning and be reminded of your bakery. They can slip on that promo t-shirt and think back to the fun times they had at the company retreat.

Promotional products are incredibly personal – and that’s something that mainstream media just can’t touch.

promotional products myths: busted

Myth #6: All promotional products companies are the same.

Why it’s perpetuated:

Promotional products companies all do the same thing – they put logos on products, and then pass them on to customers for various campaigns. It doesn’t really matter which company you work with as long as you get the promos you need.

At first blush, that’s how it may seem.

But actually, not all promo companies are created equal. There are more than 23,000 promotional product distributors, according to PPAI, and they’re all different.

Why this myth is busted:

Many promo companies are small mom-and-pop shops or even one-person shops. They don’t have a dedicated art department, production department, or merchandising team. They’re doing it all themselves. As a result, there’s a good chance your promotional products won’t look as great as they could – or even arrive when you need them.

Not all promotional companies know promotional products, either. They don’t know the different factories producing the items, and they’ve never felt or used the products.

When selecting a promotional products vendor, think about it like a partnership. You want a specific person handling your order from start to finish. You want him or her to answer all of your questions and be there for you in a pinch. Here’s a good write-up on how to pick a promotional products company. Give it a read before choosing your promotional products partner.

promotional products myths: busted


Myth #7: There’s nothing new in promotional products.

Why it’s perpetuated:

Considering that promotional products have been around for hundreds of years (the first commemorative buttons trace back to 1789 when George Washington was elected President), it’s easy to think that everything has been done before. That there’s nothing new and fresh.

Why this myth is busted:

Well, the reality is that promotional items are constantly evolving. Promotional products are a $19.83 billion industry, and every year, thousands of new products come to market. (Click here to get a look at some of the most innovative new items to hit the promotional marketing scene.)

The 53rd largest tradeshow in the United States is The PPAI Expo, which in January 2014, featured more than 1,400 exhibiting companies in 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space. Nothing new in promotional products? It’s quite the opposite.

promotional products myths: busted

Myth #8: Promotional products won’t work for my business.

Why it’s perpetuated:

You like the idea of using promotional products, but you’re just not sure your business is cut out for them. You think they cost too much, they’re unoriginal, or any of the myths we’ve just busted above. It’s easy to doubt the effectiveness of promotional items – especially if you’ve never put them to work for your brand.

Why this myth is busted:

Promotional products can work for any brand and for any campaign – whether you want to drive tradeshow traffic, boost brand awareness, or achieve something else altogether. After receiving a promotional product, 85% of consumers do business with the advertiser, according to PPAI.

Promotional items also help you lock in new customers. Eleven percent of advertisers, according to PPAI research, increase their business even among those who hadn’t done business with them before.

It pays to use promotional products. They not only get your logo in front of your target audience, but they drive recipients to do business with your company. That’s powerful stuff.

promotional products myths: busted


Myth #9: Promo items don’t last.

Why it’s perpetuated:

Promotional products sometimes get a bad rap for being cheap throwaway items. (Go back to myth #4 to review why cheaper isn’t better.) They no sooner get doled out than they’re dumped in the trash or shoved to the back of a drawer. At least, that’s what some marketers think.

Why this myth is busted:

Promo items get your brand long-lasting exposure – and the research backs it up. Data from ASI shows that the average amount of time people hang on to promotional products is 6.6 months. That’s more than half a year with your logo front and center.

Here’s a look at some promotional items and how long people keep them:

  • Calendars – 9 months
  • Outerwear – 7.3 months
  • Drinkware – 7.1 months
  • USB drives – 6.9 months
  • Bags – 6.8 months
  • Caps – 6 months
  • Desk/office accessories – 6 months
  • Shirts – 5.8 months
  • Healthy/safety – 5.5 months
  • Writing instruments – 5.3 months

promotional products myths: busted


Did any of your beliefs about promotional products go out the window after reading this post? We hope so. Promotional products work – whether they’re used alone or integrated with other media. They get your name out there. They let people know who you are and what you stand for.

When you’re building your brand, that’s what it’s all about.

Are there any other promotional product myths you’d like us to debunk? Tell us in the comments below.


8 Facts To Know About Promotional Bags (Infographic)

Wherever you go, promotional bags are there. You get them with your takeout food at restaurants. You see them in grocery stores, gyms, schools. Heck, even funeral parlors use bags.

Bags are engrained in our lifestyles. When we have stuff to schlep, bags get it done.

For marketers, bags imprinted with your logo are perfect for getting your brand seen everywhere. Bags are like billboards – they attract a ton of eyeballs, and you can’t help but read the message.

But here’s where promotional bags beat billboards every time: They’re useful. People love receiving items that serve a purpose. If it’s something they can use, they’ll keep it. You zip past a billboard, but you keep (and use) bags.

When asked why they keep logo bags, 91% of people say because they’re useful. How the bag looks is also important. Thirty-four percent of people will keep a bag if it looks good.

Did these stats surprise you? Let’s explore the infographic below to glean even more insight about promotional bags. You can also click here for hundreds of bags just waiting to be customized for your brand.



The Do’s And Don’ts Of Using Promotional Products

using promotional products

It’s easy using promotional products. You pick out a few cool items, get them imprinted with your logo, and hand them out to your target audience. Bam – you’re done.

Easy, right?

Well, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Using promotional products is an investment. If you want your investment to pay off, there are some important things to keep in mind.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some do’s and don’ts of using items imprinted with your logo.

Let’s start with the do’s.

DO understand your audience.

Who’s going to be on the receiving end of your promotional products? If you want your giveaways to be effective, you first have to know who will be receiving them.

Take a moment to revisit your customer profile. Looking at demographics, you should have insight such as customer age, gender, geographic location, income range, education, and more.

Digging a bit deeper into the psychographics, it’s helpful to know lifestyle information such as hobbies, attitudes, behaviors, values, interests, and the like.

So, why does all this matter when it comes to promotional products?

This information helps you in two important ways.

First, knowing these details about your target customer allows you to adjust your product or service to best accommodate what your customers need. And second, it clues you in to how to reach your customers with your marketing and promotional efforts.

If you know, for example, that your core audience is businessmen who golf and work in large metropolitan areas, it makes sense to give them golf-related items – maybe nice golf shirts they can wear on the course or at the office, or perhaps leather golf accessories.

If you’re marketing to rural agriculture workers, golf probably isn’t the best way to go. Instead, you’d want to look at items they could use in the field – perhaps a hardy pair of gloves or a custom work jacket.

When you take the time to get to know your target market, your brand appears smart and a whole lot more relevant to the people you want to reach.

Here’s an example.

One of our clients tailored its promotional products specifically for recipients. It set out gourmet chocolates on a copy of The Wall Street Journal for corporate jet passengers. How smart are these promos? It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way toward creating a memorable experience and building brand loyalty.

DO learn from other businesses.

Take some time to study the promo items that other companies have used, and figure out why they selected those products. Are they directly related to the brand? Are they quirky and unique? Here’s a write-up on our blog that discusses this very topic.

It’s especially helpful to pay attention to the businesses in your niche. Have you noticed that other pediatricians are handing out drawstring bags for kids? Or that all the gyms in your area are distributing sports bottles?

Don’t run out and order bags or sports bottles. The idea here isn’t to directly copy your competitors. If you do this, you’re already one step behind.

Instead, take their strategy and make it better. Think about how you can improve on what they’re doing. Every time you see someone using a promotional product from a competitor, you have great insight into what customers want.

Going back to our examples above, you could give out drawstring bags with built-in water bottle pockets or distribute sports bottles with attached carabiners. The trick is to find out what works and take it to the next level.

DO think of clever ways to grab attention.

When you use promotional products, you don’t have to resort to the same old, same old. Let’s say you always set out a mug filled with pens or hand out key chains to passersby at a tradeshow. It’s what you’ve always done, and it’s what you think works.

The thing is, though, you’re missing out on an opportunity for epic creativity.

Think about ways to really make an impression on your audience. It could be the products themselves, or it could be the way in which they’re delivered.

Check out this guerilla marketing stunt heard ’round the world.

We’re not saying you have to try and one-up your competitors as DHL has done. But the brand’s stunt was anything but boring – and that’s what your promotions should aim to be.

People are busy. They’re bombarded. They don’t have time for anything that’s dull or mundane. It takes a clever approach to get noticed.

Some ways you can do this include:

Street teams or brand ambassadors. Sending people out in branded apparel to hand out freebies allows you to get face-to-face with potential customers. Your promotional products aren’t just background items – they’re front and center. Click here for a great example that any company could easily pull off.

Interactive promotions. Don’t just hand out your promos and be done – make them fun and exciting. Send people on a scavenger hunt to find your giveaways. Give out one component of your giveaway, and have prospects come back the next day for the second piece. The idea is to engage with people – not just hand out free stuff. Here’s an interactive promotion in action.

Incentives. Use promos as perks when you want your customers to do something. Are you seeking more reviews for your restaurant? Want to generate more referrals for your new business? Want more likes on your Facebook page? Motivate people to take action by offering up promotional products.

We’ve had success using promos as incentives here at ePromos, too. When we wanted to spread the word about our Facebook page, we ran a contest in which everybody who liked our page was in the running for a great Ogio duffel bag.

Sure enough, our likes skyrocketed and we boosted engagement on the page. People love free stuff, and they’re more willing to do what you’re asking if they have the chance to get it. Just make sure the giveaway is universally appealing (everyone can use a duffel bag), or something that you know your audience will appreciate.

The key lesson here is: Be creative. Out with the boring and in with the bold when it comes to using promotional products.

Now that you’ve learned some do’s when it comes to promotional products, let’s examine some of the don’ts.

DON’T be cheap.

Remember what we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post? Promotional products are an investment. Don’t sacrifice quality to save a few bucks. Your brand image is on the line. If you go for the cheapest products you can find, people will correlate those giveaways with your brand.

That’s not to say you need to shell out big bucks for your promotional items to be effective. You can create a stellar promotion and still keep well within your allotted budget – just don’t make price your only consideration.

Do your research. Think about what you want your promo items to accomplish, and what your target audience would actually want to receive.

You’ll be better off using promotional products (even if there are fewer of them) that are interesting and appealing to recipients than getting a truckload of the cheapest items around.

You know the adage: You get what you pay for. It’s true with promotional items, as well. Give your customers and prospects a cheaply made giveaway that breaks or falls apart, and you have a one-way ticket to the trash can. So much for that brand exposure you were hoping for.

Don’t cheap out. You’ll invest more money up front, but in the long run, it pays off for your brand and how it’s perceived.

DON’T weird people out.

There are some promotional products – think hygiene products or political products, for example – that make sense only for certain companies and campaigns.

If you give people something that makes them feel a little off, do you think they’ll have positive feelings about your brand? No way.

Creativity is good, but don’t cross the line and make people feel weird or uncomfortable with your giveaways. The last thing you want to do is upset your customers or turn them away from your brand.

A promotional toothbrush is a great giveaway if you’re a dentist. If you’re an accountant, well, not so much. Not only is the promo strangely out of place, but it could send the vibe that your clients have bad breath. They’d be weirded out that they just got a toothbrush from their CPA, and they’d think about it every time they interact with you.

The same thing is true with political products. Unless you’re running for office or you’re a campaign manager, it’s best to steer clear of any promo that might tip people off to your political leanings.

People are passionate about politics. If they can see that your views don’t line up with theirs, you can kiss that brand loyalty goodbye.

You also don’t want to step on anybody’s toes by handing out blatantly political items (think bumper stickers or pins with a candidate’s name) or even subtly political promos (think donkey-shaped stress balls or elephant-shaped stickers).

If you’re not directly in the political arena or striving to make a political push, it’s best to remain bipartisan. Go patriotic instead with red, white, and blue promos or American-made items.

And when it comes to hygiene products, by all means, leave the toothbrushes for the dentists. Otherwise, it’s just too weird if it has nothing to do with your brand or promotion.

DON’T hand out promos without a strategy.

Do you have a game plan for your promotional products? If you’re not sure why you’re giving them out, then don’t do it. Take some time to figure out what you want to accomplish.

You should never invest in promos without knowing why you’re making the investment. You’ll simply be flinging freebies at people with no solid goal in mind.

Here are some things to consider. Will the promotional items be used for:

Brand awareness – Do you simply want to spread the word about your business?

Customer loyalty – Will the products be given out to retain current customers?

New business – Do you hope to win new customers with your giveaways?

Employee recruitment – Is the purpose of the promos to attract new talent to your business?

Incentives – Are you hoping to use the items to motivate your audience to do something?

Thank-you gifts – Will the promotional products be used as tokens of gratitude?

Gift-with-purchase – Will the promos be given as freebies when customers buy something? (Click here for an example of a gift-with-purchase promotion we created for one of our clients.)

This is just a sampling of some of the reasons to give promo items. But it’s a good place to start if you’re unsure why you need to be using promotional products.

It’s also smart to think about what’s on the horizon for your business. You may uncover some hidden gems when it comes to distributing custom logo merchandise.

Do you have any upcoming:

  • Conferences or tradeshows?
  • Open houses?
  • Fundraising events?
  • Golf tournaments?
  • Contests?
  • Customer appreciation events?
  • Awards ceremonies?

These are all prime opportunities to get your promo items into the hands of your customers and prospects.

Does it take time to develop a strategy for your promotional products? Yes. But it’s so worth it.

You’ll have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, and you’ll have some actionable ideas on how to make it happen.

There’s More To Promotional Products Than You Think

If, a few minutes ago, you thought using promotional products was as simple as putting your logo on something and handing it out, we hope we’ve cleared up that little misconception.

Promotional products are powerful, but you have to know how to use them. Take the time to know who you’re marketing to. Pay attention to what other businesses are doing. And be creative. Promotional items shouldn’t put people to sleep – they should catapult your brand to a whole new level.

Want more? Click to see some eye-opening stats about the effectiveness of promotional products.

Do you regularly use promotional products to market your business? What other tips can you share?


Promotional Calendars: 7 Stats You Didn’t Know

You know the basics about promotional calendars. They keep your logo around for months on end, they’re perpetually useful, they’re offered in all kinds of sizes, styles, and designs, and so forth.

But did you know that calendars are the longest-lasting promotional items around? Or that they’re most popular with older consumers?

Take a look at our infographic with more useful tidbits about the promo that everyone loves to keep: the calendar.

Here’s a tip for you: Don’t wait until December to get in your calendar orders. Get started now so they’ll be ready to go long before 2015 rolls around. This way, you’ll have the best shot at securing your customers’ wall or desk space.



Promo Products And A Movie: A Lesson In Fun Marketing

The right promo products can instantly infuse excitement and fun into your marketing. When you hand out items that people can’t wait to get their hands on, you’re not only getting your name out there – you’re building a memorable brand.

custom folding chairsFor some inspiration, take a look at what our client, Woods Rogers, is doing. The Roanoke, Virginia-based full-service law firm partnered with Downtown Roanoke Inc. to sponsor its Movies at the Tower, a community event where locals gather to watch a movie under the stars on the second Friday of every month from May through October.

As a sponsor, Woods Rogers can distribute promo products. The firm reached out to ePromos for promotional folding chairs and packages of custom cotton candy. After all, what goes better with an outdoor movie than a comfy place to sit and a tasty snack?

custom candyOn movie nights, the chairs are set up and the cotton candy is placed in shiny silver buckets. The giveaways are first come, first served, so attendees know they must act fast to score their freebies.

“This is a community event, and most of the people attending are families. For us, it’s good exposure to those looking to make financial arrangements,” says Lillian Crites Graning, Marketing Director for Woods Rogers. “Our goal is really to have them think Woods Rogers when they consider law firms.”

It’s always great marketing to reach people with something immediately useful where they are. That’s why the firm is also doing similar giveaways at baseball games and concert series throughout the summer.

“Getting our ‘stuff’ into the community gives people a warm-fuzzy when looking at a logo while eating chocolate or reaching for their WR promo umbrella to keep warm on a wet day,” Graning says. “We like to think of it as an extension of our client services.”

You don’t have to sponsor an event to build brand awareness in your community – just include fun, unique and interesting promo products in your marketing.

Graning says the sky’s the limit. “For us, they ease the branding process. There are a million ways to use promo goods.”

Promo know-how tip:

Hand out seasonal promotional products to generate an immediate buzz. Look to items such as beach towels, sunscreen and beach balls for giveaways that are timely and fun. Our Brand Consultants are brimming with ideas, so give us a call! 


Coffee Promotional Products That Will Perk Up Any Coffee Lover

If you want to hear about coffee promotional products, you’re in the right spot. But first, a quick back story.

Fourteen years ago this month (June), I married my best friend. I won’t bore you this time with the romantic tale, but I will tell you I tried to be the super wife in the beginning.

I would get up with my hubby at 4:45 every morning, fix a full breakfast, and make his lunch. I thought I was doing so well until after a few weeks in, he lovingly turned to me and said, “It might be best for our marriage if you stayed in bed.”

I pressed, “Is it my cooking?”

It wasn’t. (It’s awesome. Just ask our Minnesota crew.) I wasn’t a morning person then, and after 14 years, I’m still not.

graphic 1

Of course there are several solutions to the chronic anti-morning person, but none bigger than the $100 billion commodity coffee industry (second only to oil).

Oh coffee, that sweet nectar that brings me to life every morning.

Believe it or not, I am the only coffee drinker in the house. (My husband doesn’t eat chocolate either … the things you find out after you are married!) But my husband knows me well. He gave me one of my favorite anniversary presents a few years ago – a Keurig machine. (Yes, ladies, he’s a keeper.)

graphic 2

So what does all of this have to do with ePromos and promotional products? Well, with coffee being the second largest commodity market, there is a major opportunity to be in front of your customers.

One way to do this (that’s very near and dear to my heart) is the Tervis Tumbler. These great mugs can be decorated in so many creative ways, and they bring co-branding to a whole new level.

Since I am a Keurig fanatic, I’d like to introduce you to some of our newest products: the custom K-Cup and the K-Cup case.

custom Keurig cups

Your options are endless when it comes to marketing to coffee drinkers such as me. Disposable cups, coffee sleeves, endless mug choices and more.

What coffee item can you not live without? Share on ePromos’ Facebook page.