12 Things Promotional Products Do Better than Other Media

By David Betke

Putting Promotional Products to Work For You

Let's be honest; you don't buy swag (promotional products) just to spend money. Like any other marketing or advertising, you want it to DO something for you.


Promotional products offer your audience a unique opportunity to physically interact with your brand. That is something no other advertising media can do. Promotional items can be your secret weapon in any marketing campaign. I mean, who doesn't love receiving a promotional product?

Promotional products are a powerful marketing tool, yet they are the most misused of media forms by many businesses.

Here are 12 things promotional products do better, along with a proper marketing strategy:

#1 A Well Chosen Promotional Product Can Help You Break Through the Noise and Clutter Because People Love to Receive Promotional Products

In our experience, there is no better way to get your message through to and acted upon by a big decision-maker or high-value prospect than with a promotional product (water bottles, mugs, t-shirts, pens, tote bags, umbrellas, etc.) integrated with compelling copywriting. We call it Dimensional Advertising™.

We have seen action rates as high as 58%. One of our pieces even generated a 6000% return within six months of launch. The lifetime value of the new client acquisitions was well into the seven figures. That's the power of promotional products as a form of advertising. 

Think high-value account acquisition, recruitment, and fundraising.

#2 Promotional Marketing Works as An Incentive to Do Something 

When used correctly at trade shows to gather qualified leads, at golf tournaments to engage strangers in your brand story, or internally motivating employees, custom promotional products can be great incentives to do something. 

Tip: Make receiving a giveaway conditional. Add an action funnel and key metrics, and you have a marketing program that can deliver invaluable data to optimize engagement and actions per dollar, leading to new customers or recruits.

Think trade shows, job fairs, and events!

#3 A Promotional Item is a Great Option to Reward Action

Everyone likes to be recognized for their progress, and branded swag can be turbocharged pats on the head for both employees and clients. 

Tip: Break down big organizational goals into manageable action steps and give rewards at predetermined points to increase engagement measurably. 

Think project management and program implementation!

#4 They are a Powerful Marketing Tool to Trigger Behavior

When behaviour needs to change, promotional products are up to the task. Within a well-planned program, they can be excellent tools to help people form new positive habits. They act as triggers to remind an individual of the difference between current behaviour and desired behaviour. 

Think safety messaging!

#5 Promo Products Can Draw Someone Deeper Into the Story of Your Brand to Increase Brand Awareness and Brand Recognition

You should always choose your promotional products through the lens of your brand. They should reinforce your brand story and draw people deeper into your story at a lower cost per impression than most other media.

Add them as a prop to a campaign marketing mix. You may be surprised how powerful a promotional product can be when used as a memory trigger. Often years later, someone will be able to recall a campaign based on a promotional product or, at the very least, your brand name. More importantly, they remember how you made them feel when you touched them with your story.

Think product launches and onboarding! 

#6 Branded Promotional Gifts Are Great For Recognition, Reward & Thank-You 

Numerous studies have found that cash is not as good of an incentive as a branded product. A well-thought-out premium (a custom product produced solely for your brand that people cannot purchase) is an amazing show of gratitude, and it will maintain that positive movie playing in your customer's heads.

With new customization possibilities and advances in technology, it has never been easier to create a premium. Ask us how.

Think sales-level gifts, speaker gifts, and client recognition!

#7 We Use Eco-Friendly Products to Make Abstract Concepts Concrete

Promotional products can be great educational tools. Their very nature draws people into your story, and if used wisely, they will take an abstract concept and make it concrete. If you choose the medium wisely, it indeed becomes the message.

We used a frisbee to show people how to conserve water. It was too abstract of a concept to ask them to stop watering their lawn after covering it with 1.5cm of water. They had to flip the frisbee and turn off the water when it was full. It was simple but highly effective, and the ad space on the frisbee was much larger than a rain gauge, and it was more fun!

Think social action, instruction, and product education!

#8 Promotional Swag Can Be Great as Coop Advertising

Branded merchandise is a fantastic way to tell your brand story, create a raving fan base and coop advertising costs out to your audience. Everyone wants that concert t-shirt or that festival souvenir. Most people buy souvenirs from attractions; when they wear them, they become part of your brand story.

Turn your fans into walking billboards to spread your message and generate more brand love.

Think festivals, concerts, attractions, and company stores!

#9 Branded Apparel and Branded Merch Can Act as An Interactive Billboard Promoting Your Brand

When a happy employee or advocate wears your branded shirt in their private life, they become the best advertising possible, an interactive billboard that people immediately trust because they trust that person.

Tell your story. Add a question. Add compelling graphics that make someone want to ask where someone got the products or what it's all about. Point them to a video for more information. The possibilities are endless. 

Think of tasteful brand stories!

#10 Good Promotional Choices Can Raise Funds or Inspire Sustained Action

A premium is a product that is created specifically for your brand. They are fantastic fundraising and motivational tools because no money can buy them; people have to earn them. They are only available to people who engage in a predetermined action or series of actions.

PBS does a great job with its concert DVDs. You can do the same by creating your premium.

Think non-profit fundraising, employee incentives, and customer loyalty programs!

#11 With Multiple Impressions Over a Products' Lifetime, Promo Items Are Great at Building Brand Consistency and Continuity

Building a brand requires consistency, and promotional products are one of your best tools. Consider employee uniforms and apparel for customer-facing interactions. Think drink-ware, writing instruments, and desk accessories for internal branding and team building.

But don't just stop at your logo. Get creative, or let us get creative for you. You want to engage people in your vision and your story. You want them to write your story with their actions. 

Think continuity when you aim to maintain the positive movie that plays in your audience's minds when promotional products remind them of your brand.

#12 With a Well Crafted Marketing Message, Promotional Products Can Be a Powerful Way to Generate Leads for Sales & Recruitment

We saved the best for last. 

Promotional products can be remarkable lead generators when paired with good copywriting and process. Our process ensures that you attract and measure sales or recruitment leads every time you donate a promotional product to a silent auction, golf tournament, or event.

Our game-changing SimpleLeads™ automated funnels can help you generate more leads, keep them engaged, and determine which channels & events generate your highest quality leads.

Think lead generation, helping leads become prospects, helping prospects become customers, and assisting customers to become sources of endless referrals! 

Final Thoughts

The one thing you should never do even with the most popular promotional products and the number one reason why promotional products don't work:

Is giving them away without a plan. No call-to-action and no way to measure how well they moved you toward your goal.


About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back, make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted a couple of great customers for life. David has been personally recognized with seven national marketing awards.