Every company needs giveaway promo items but how much should you spend and on what type of items? It’s a real bummer to order 1,000 of something only to find out it didn’t have the effect you were thinking. Remember, just because you think something is cool or useful doesn’t mean everyone else will. These things are very individualistic and a lot of stuff gets thrown straight into the trash after you walk away. But one good thing about promotional items compared to printed material is they last forever, or I guess until you change your logo or tagline.
Thanks to some contributions from my long-time promo items rep from Standing Ovations, Don Nichols, below is a list of some things to think about when deciding which promo items you should carry.
- Stay away from dot.com online promo sites
That does not mean don’t utilize distributor websites because they all have them and they are a great tool. But stay away from sites that don’t offer you your own personal sales rep. These sites are interested in only one thing and that is selling volume but often with nonexistent service. They are not personally vested in your company’s growth. Distributors that offer good customer service and have good references from other successful companies are the ones you should direct your attention to. Having your own personal rep to handle you promotional account is paramount in securing the absolute best value for your promotional dollars and working with you in a crisis (urgent needs).
- Get to know your rep personally
You want a face-to-face meeting with your rep to establish a good base for your relationship. You both need mutual trust in each other. Your rep should have your best interest in mind at all times. They should offer you fresh and innovative ideas that work well for your typical needs and for your target market and buyer persona.
- Don’t always go with the cheapest thing
Sometimes you feel like you just need to get your name on something. That’s how stuff get’s thrown in the trash. Let your rep suggest items to you. You might not like what they have to say initially, so ask them to explain the reason. Believe me when I say I’ve gotten some very unique ideas from Don that I never would have thought of and that really were a big hit.
Get at least 2 or 3 different items for the different types of clients you’re targeting and for different occasions. I typically recommend stocking items in the following price bands: under $1, $1-2, $3-5, $10+. As you can imagine, you’ll stock much higher volumes of the items at the lowest price points and only carry a small amount of the highest price item because they are reserved for your VIP customers and special occasions. While spreading things out in various cost categories, also try to address different application uses. Something used in cars, on desks, at home, on your clothes, at parties, etc.
Surely you’ll have logo’d t-shirts, which is fine for casual use. But if you’re going to meet a prospect/client or traveling to a show you’ll want something nicer like a polo-style golf shirt or a button-down shirt that you can throw a sport coat over (for men).
This is critical. When having your logo designed you must look at the big picture. What all is your art going to show up on? It must be usable and transferable to other products for both embroidery on wearable items like shirts and hats. And it also must be imprintable on hard items like decals, pens, mugs, calendars, magnets and 900,000 other items that are available to you. Try to keep your logo design to basic colors and, if possible, never use more than 3 and don’t blend them into each other. I know it looks cool but you can change this later after your company takes off and you have a pile of money to spend on logo’d items. You might also want to create a 1-color version of your logo for use on the lowest cost items. It really helps hold the costs down.
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