Marketing Center

Promotional strategies for your business

Determine which giveaways can help grow your business and your customers’ loyalty.

Published: July 10, 2012
Updated: July 19, 2017

Promotional products, giveaways, tchotchkes, or ad specialties — call them what you like, but they may have a role to play in boosting your business's image and keeping it top of mind for buyers.

Choose the right products

Consumers are inundated with advertising messages. From billboards to Facebook ads, emails, text messages, radio, TV, and print ads, it can be all-consuming. For businesses, the challenge is to not only get promotions in front of prospects, but to develop a marketing strategy that resonates with target customers. This is where promotional products may play a part.

According to Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), it's important to consider the following when choosing promotional products as an advertising medium:

  • Your audience: Are your target customers in a specific industry? Do they share a particular interest? Where do they spend their time? For example, do they spend a lot of time in a certain room of their home, in their vehicles, traveling by plane, in the office, etc.?

  • Your budget: Before you move ahead with a promotional product, consider whether you have the financial resources to meet your goals. As you evaluate your business's budget, consider the role promotional products will play in your overall marketing strategy.

  • Your venue: Would your promotional products be appropriate for the event or area you'll be distributing them? For example, if you are doing giveaways at a trade show, can people easily carry them around for hours of networking and browsing?

  • Your goal: Once your promotional product is in people's hands, what do you want them to do? How will you know if your promotional product inspired them to take this action? For example, if you want people to call your business when a certain need arises, you may want to offer a discount if they mention the product or event where they received the product.

While there can be a benefit to offering unique promotional products, the goal is to have something that people will keep, not throw out, so it is a continual reminder of your company. Some of the most popular promotional products are simple items that people use every day, including wearables (shirts, jackets, hats, etc.), writing instruments, bags, drinkware, and desk/office supplies.

But you should also be mindful that promotional products could potentially have a negative impact on your business's reputation if manufactured incorrectly. Customers will associate your brand with the product, which could be detrimental to your reputation if the item is considered cheap or low in quality. Promotional products can be expensive, especially if customers discard the product when they lose interest in it or when the product wears out.

As an alternative or in addition to promotional products, businesses are currently seeing value in advertising online, particularly with social media. Worldwide ad spending on social media alone rose to $31 billion in 2016, up from $16 billion in 2014.1 Since many of today's customers are active social media users, it may be wise to invest money in advertising via this medium, or in addition to spending it on promotional products.

However, if you're already a devoted user of promotional products or you're looking to test the waters, it's important to approach each promotion with a strategy in mind. After all, a good promo could serve as a powerful sales tool for weeks or even years after an event.

1 "All the Social Media Advertising Stats You Need To Know," Nov. 29, 2016, HootSuite.