Who doesn’t love an awesome freebie? Come on, you know you snag one (or five) free pens every chance you get. We all do it! What happens after that though? Often times, they get thrown into a mug at home, and you only use them for keeping score in Yahtzee!.

Promotional items are important to your business. According to research conducted by PPAI (Promotional Products Association International), 90.4% of people who received a promotional item within the last 2 years reported that they still currently owned at least one of the items they received.1 The goal of a promotional item is to have your organization’s name in front of the recipient as much as possible. So what is it that separates a good item from a bad one? What gives a promo staying power so that your item is the one they hold on to? Here are a few things to consider.

First and forBattery Bankemost, your item should be something that people actually use. Don’t overthink it! Sometimes the most functional items are the best ones. The promo items that I have on my desk right now? Post-it notes and a microfiber cloth that I use to clean my smartphone and tablet. Some of my other favorites are ice scrapers, good pens, outerwear, and battery banks.

Another thing to consider is your target audience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a promotional item that relates to your industry or market sector. Custom snow hats or touchscreen gloves for a ski resort, or pens for an office supply company (see what I did there?) are great options because you know the clientele that is buying from you appreciates what you offer.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the one thing on everyone’s mind—price. When deciding how much you should spend on a promotional item, you need to consider who you are giving the item to. Maybe you’re getting something to throw on the receptionist’s desk, or to put on your table at a fair. Smaller ticket items are perfect here. It’s hard to regulate how many of these items people take when they pass by, so get something that won’t keep you up at night if someone walks off with 3 or 4 in their pocket. It happens. Keep it at $5 or below.

Then you’ve got your middle-of-the-road items. Maybe it’s something you’re handing out to your larger customers, or a prospective customer that you’re trying to woo. Don’t feel bad about spending $10-30 on something like this. You want to make sure that you’re giving an item that doesn’t come across as chintzy.

Some companies will give custom items to employees who have reached a milestone or achievement. Show them that you care by giving them something that is high quality and will last. These are your higher-end custom-fleeceitems. Last year we did some custom fleece jackets for a company that was holding an internal competition. Everyone who earned one loved it, and everyone who didn’t get one wished they had. It was also great incentive to gain participation and effort from the employees. Getting a custom gift for your employees can be a great way to say thank you without having to break out a bonus check. It’s kind of like the relative who gives you a thoughtful gift that cost $20 while another gives you $30 cash. My guess is you probably liked the former more, even if it cost less.

Your promo item doesn’t have to be some insane, crazy item. It can, and probably should be, something simple. It should be something people want and will use, and when they use it, they’ll see your name.

-Andy Richter


“A Lasting Impression.” PPAI Research 2011.130 (2011): 3. Web.