There are many uses for promotional items. This means that they are just not used as freebies for a grand opening special. Knowing all the uses for these nifty items, often called "swag," will open up many opportunities for your place of business.
Look around you. You can probably count on two hands the number of items in your office or home that are etched, engraved or printed with someone's name- magnets, key chains, coffee mugs, calendars, rulers and note cubes. Oh, and how could we forget the pen or stress ball? These items were most likely given to you at no cost at a business you frequent, or perhaps were even sent to you. These are often given out at trade shows, seminars and other events open to the public. Even the businesses that have booths at the county fair have these types of giveaways. And, some businesses just have them out in their reception area. Others, like schools, may hand out pens, folders and lanyards at orientations and open houses. This marketing tool not only builds recognition but also is a way to gain your repeat business.
Many of the above type of items are also used as business/corporate gifts. Items under this category sometimes also fall under higher price ranges too such as insulated travel mugs, clocks, messenger bags, polo shirts, fleece blankets, paper weights and more. These are generally sent to clients and vendors of a business to show their appreciation. They can be sent around the holidays, given out at receptions or just sent around an event specific to the company sending them. According to a Baylor University study, over half of the companies in America take part in this practice, and 68% of them find them to be very effective in helping achieve their business objectives. Some more reasons for business gifts: thanking customers, developing business and recognizing employees.
Sometimes promotional items aren't free. But, the customer is not exactly paying for them either. Welcome to the world of premiums! If you sign up for this, you'll get this for free! And, this gimmick works! Have you ever donated to a charitable organization (like the Sierra Club) for a free newsletter subscription and t-shirt? Have you ever applied for a credit card to get an umbrella? Have you ever pledged to your local PBS station during a membership campaign for a Sesame Street plush toy? Or, have you ever switched banks to get a free beach blanket, or signed up for a health club for a free gym bag? These are just an inkling of ways companies use premiums to win your business. Premiums are basically promotional products used as an incentive to gain your business. Many times, the item is not given until an obligation us fulfilled. So, if your company is seeking membership, subscriptions or even sales, attaching a premium is a smart way to attract new business!
Sometimes promotional items are created solely for inside purposes, such as the case with recognition awards. These can range from plaques and pins to jackets and messenger bags, and many other types of gifts. These can be used for reaching and exceeding goals, perfect attendance, leadership qualities, promotions, inside contests and much more. Unlike ad specialties and premiums, which cater to the public, these cater to employees to motivate and boost morale within the place they work. While the recognition may mean more than the actual item, it serves as a reminder of accomplishments. When others see someone with an award, their own performance may increase. In a way, a recognition award is sort of like a premium after all- there is an incentive to earn one.
Sometimes promotional items are given out to customers as prizes as events. This is similar to recognition awards, only these are usually smaller ticket items given to random customers. An example would be a special sale or promotion where people can enter to win at the store, perhaps there is a grand prize of a big-ticket item and runner-ups will be selected to win imprinted prizes donning your logo. Also, items like inflatables (balloons and other shapes) will draw attention to a business and are indeed considered promotional items. Also, everybody has seen items with logos up for sale in gift shops- think tourist attraction, or gift shops at the end of a company tour (Hershey, Crayola factory, etc). These are still promotional items, but are considered souvenirs and are bought my consumers. Shot glasses, pint glasses, mugs, license plate frames, bumper stickers, salt and pepper shakers and more can fall in to this category!
Cindy Carrera is a freelance creative author who's written numerous articles about PR including: business promotional items, custom promotional products and wholesale promotional items.