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Why Do Promotional Products Work?

Why Do Promotional Products Work?

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There’s a reason why promotional gifts are considered one of the first advertising techniques used and why they’re still around. If you take a minute to look around your home or office, you will likely see that you own at least one promotional product.

According to the Advertising Specialties Impressions Study (ASI), promo items are still the most highly viewed form of advertising among consumers. This is true even despite how often consumers view TV or digital advertisements. That’s why American businesses alone spend $20 billion each year on promotional products alone.

What Qualifies as a Promotional Product?

Items that are considered promotional products are typically free items that have a company’s name, logo, and slogan or message on them. Many people think of pens, t-shirts, calendars, or magnets when they think of promotional products. Other items like water bottles, tote bags, notepads or umbrellas are even more examples. However, almost anything you can think of could become a promotional item. The only limit to the possibilities is your imagination.

When used correctly, marketing products can be combined with newer forms of advertising to become even more effective.


Why Do Customers Like Promotional Products?

Now, let’s dive deeper into why consumers still like promotional products centuries after they were first introduced.

Principle of Reciprocity

Marketing companies have long used psychologists to understand customers better. The Principle of Reciprocity is an important finding that explains why promotional products work.

People give and others receive. Then, they also give and still others receive. With promotional products, this reciprocity can come in two different forms. The customer themselves might purchase from your company or they may tell their friends and family about the product and your business.

In order to elicit the reciprocity response from consumers, your marketing products should be useful, attractive, enjoyable and relevant.

Sense of Accomplishment

When you give away free products at events, it provides the recipient with a sense of accomplishment. They feel as though something they have done made them worthy of earning this free product.

Sense of Loyalty

Giving away free products also works when it comes to employees. You could give them these promo items at your company’s events or parties. They may help the employees feel as though their time at these events was worthwhile. It can also help remind the employees of the good times they had during that event. Every time they use that gift from you, it will foster a greater sense of loyalty to your company.


On average, a promotional product is kept for around five months, garnering an average of about 1,000 impressions per month. However, the more useful the item is, the longer it will be retained and the more impressions it will make. The most useful items are bags, items of clothing and travel mugs.

Why Promotional Products Are Worth the Investment

Looking at your balance sheet and seeing you giving away free items might be alarming at first. However, by the time these marketing products are out of use, they will have given you much more than a 1:1 return on investment.

Improved Brand Recognition

If you want to gain new customers, you need to make sure they are familiar with your brand and what you offer. The items you give out will help your customers remember you and what you do in the long run. If you choose the right product, the product and your brand will stay with them for a long time. It will serve as a constant reminder of your company.

Cheap Everyday Exposure

Other forms of advertising only stay in front of someone’s eyes for a few seconds. Useful promo items stay in sight most of the time. A trendy t-shirt will stay in the recipient’s closet for years. Plus, every time they wear it, hundreds if not thousands of people see your brand name. A USB stick that goes on their keychain serves as a reminder of your company every time they use it. Think of these items like a years-long commercial.

Better Than a Business Card

Every business person is familiar with business cards. You know that these are useful tools for introducing yourself and your business to potential customers. You might be surprised to find out that promotional products do the same thing, but with even better results. Almost three-quarters of people who receive a promotional item are able to remember the name of the company that gave it to them. The same can’t always be said for when you give out a business card. When the item contains your information like your logo, slogan, or even contact information, it can be much more useful than a business card.

When Promotional Products Work

There is often more to offering a promotional product than simply giving away a product. Other benefits include:

  • It’s easier asking for something in return for your giveaways
  • You can target your giveaways better
  • You can use these giveaways to grow your audience

Companies benefit from promotional products the most when they are used as a lead magnet. In this case, you give something to your customers in return for more information about them. Most often, this comes in the form of a mailing list signup. You now have another opportunity to sell them on your business, products, and services.

Promotional products work well as giveaways on social media. Competition style giveaways can be used in exchange for shares on social media or referrals. This is a tactic that many companies are already using. In fact, 91% of Instagram posts with over 1,000 comments are contests.

Promotional Products Work

Promotional products influence not only the recipient, but the people in their networks too. This can give your company the social lift you need to get ahead of your competitors. It can also be an important catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing. Finally, they also encourage product trials, repeat purchases and brand awareness by motivating customers to try more from your company. Even though there are other marketing strategies out there, promotional products don’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon.