Promotional Products
The Do’s and Don’ts of Promotional Products

Promotional product companies are largely taken for granted. Many marketers utilize their services for order taking alone. However, many professional advertising specialty distributors offer additional value by advising clients about the best products to use to meet marketing campaign goals. It is important to start with the end in mind — what is your objective?

Research shows that promotional products can help you achieve specific marketing campaign goals. Decide whether your needs are for a branding or strategic campaign and share that with your promotional product vendor. Below are a few Do’s & Don’ts to give you an idea of how-to best partner with your promotional product company to meet your campaign goals:


Evaluate the experience your customer or prospect will have with the promotional product. Think about how they will utilize the promotional product and how you could maximize the potential exposure for your company.

Use different products for different levels of engagement. For example, at a trade show utilize a less expensive option as a freebie for anyone that shows interest. Then, for the prospects you have more meaningful conversations with, reserve a more expensive option for them.

Share your overall campaign goal with the promotional product company. Depending on the type of results you are trying to achieve by including a promotional product in your marketing campaign, a professional distributor may offer some very helpful advice. Take advantage of the immense amount of knowledge they have regarding previous client success and the vast array of products available.

Start planning early. It is recommended to start planning, depending on how you will utilize the promotional product in your campaign, 6-9 months ahead of when it will be needed. This ensures that you have the appropriate amount of time to review artwork, evaluate the end result, and have time to make any necessary adjustments. Spend your budgeted dollars on product and not fees for rush service and expedited shipping.

Use a Call to Action. Use the promotional product to motivate a prospect to complete a preferred behavior. Ask them to complete a form, submit a survey, or just stop by your booth at a trade show in order to receive the promotional product. It is surprising how motivated people can be for free swag. Promotional products motivate people to act. The right incentive might encourage them to meet with a sales representative, try a new product, or partner with your company.


Overlook audience needs. Think about the daily routines of your target personas. What does their day look like? What product would fit in seamlessly or add value? You want to invest in something that will guarantee a certain level of exposure to ensure your success.

Overdo it on the branding. Many companies purchase promotional products and go big on the logo placement – either in reference to the actual imprint size of the logo or utilizing any and all space to market their company. There are some instances where that approach makes sense, but there are other instances where you will gain a larger percentage of prospects or customers adapting to the product if you go a bit subtler. Take the classic t-shirt, for example. Most people do not prefer being a walking billboard, but if the design is subtle and appealing, they will wear that item more often, and your brand will get more exposure.

Forget about the packaging. Take the proper precautions to ensure that the packaging serves the promotional product well. For example, for a direct mail campaign make sure that the item will fit into the envelope you’d like to mail it in. You will also want to consider the weight when planning the budget for mailing.

Be shortsighted with the budget. If you are unable to plan in the recommended 6 to 9 months prior, consider rush production fees and expedited shipping that would be needed to get the product in time for your campaign needs.

Stop at the event. A great way to provide value to prospects that you’ve met at an event is to follow-up afterward. If you exhibited at a conference, consider a post-conference mailing. Instead of distributing the big Yeti-style tumbler at the conference to lug home, send a thoughtful package with the gift, a thank you note, and a call to action for a next step. You will be more likely to get a follow-up call through to a prospect if you have planned several touches before, during and after an event.

Promotional product companies provide an immense amount of expertise on the latest products, the best use of imprinted items, and client successes and failures. Ask your vendor what works and what doesn’t. Consult and partner with them in order to achieve your marketing goals. Your bottom line will be glad you did.

Crown Trophy is a proud AMA Baltimore sponsor. To learn more about Crown Trophy, visit their website: Photo supplied by Crown Trophy.