Parents are supposed to love all their children equally. I can’t say the same for all the swag products we offer. Don’t get me wrong, I (mostly) love them all, but definitely to different degrees. And it all depends on the situation as to what items are my favorites.
Since there are so many factors that play into what promotional items I love or suggest to clients, I’m going to make this a small series of blogs. Otherwise this will go on forever with lots of explaining. And no one wants that.
To start off, I thought the best approach for the first of the series is to look at traditional items most people think of when they are looking for swag ideas to market their business- the typical, traditional, classic swag items. Here are my top picks for promotional items that stand the test of time:
Pens. This is absolutely one of those love/hate relationships. Pens are perfect items to customize for banks, Real Estate Agents, Insurance Companies- basically anyone that has contracts to sign. Any company that has sales people visiting clients or making sales calls in person can also use pens effectively. Even as much as technology has invaded our lives, we all still use a pen on a daily basis. If you don’t, please let me know how you manage that! Now, the hate part of this item is that people often select a pen to market with because they are inexpensive and easy to hand out. The problem with having that mindset is that they often go for the “cheapest pen”, which turns out to actually be a cheap pen. Which gets tossed almost as soon as it’s handed out. So that .20 pen with your logo goes straight to the trash, but not before the recipient saw your imprint and now associates you with cheap. Pens can be affordable AND good quality. Spend a few extra cents and get a pen that writes well and feels good.
Tote bags have always been a popular form of advertising. With plastic bags being banned in many large cities and more people being conscious of the impact of plastic on the environment, reusable totes are becoming even more popular. According to industry research, bags generate more impressions than any other promo product in the United States. That generates some really good ROI. Bags come in an unending variety of materials, colors, sizes and prices. There really is a tote for every budget and purpose. Non-woven bags are popular for trade shows, as reusable grocery bags and for events. Cotton totes are still affordable, washable and durable options. Boat style totes in twill or canvas make a great gift with purchase, higher end promotional item, new member gift or giveaway. These have a higher perceived value and are more durable and rugged. Tote bags top my list of marketing items for the wide variety of styles, prices and decorating options available- the sky is the limit!
T-Shirts have to be included on the list of classic items. Who doesn’t have a drawer full of their favorites- the most comfortable, the one from the marathon you ran (or volunteered at because running is not your thing), one emblazoned with the logo of “your” team, the one you wash the car in. There’s a T for every occasion. T-shirts are perfect souvenirs, work as part of a uniform, help raise funds for a charity, commemorate an event, recognize volunteers- the list goes on. Classic styles, slim fit, 100% cotton or tri-blend, T’s offer many options to advertise for you. Whether you want to go with a one color imprint in one location or get really creative with a seam to seam full color imprint, T’s offer the ideal palette to showcase your design.
Mugs. I have to admit, I go back and forth with my love for mugs. I like them more in the winter, but still have a love/tolerate relationship. For me, a mug needs to be “interesting”. I don’t want a white c-handle mug unless it has a really cool design. But give me something a little more substantial and interesting in shape or color and I’m a fan. But, because I prefer my coffee iced (even in the winter) I really like a stainless steel tumbler type mug. So my recommendation with mugs is similar to that of pens- if you are going to do a mug, do a mug that works for your brand and message and don’t just pick a mug because it is cheap. A white c-handle may be perfect for you- they work great when used at events or for visitor mugs in an office. I recommend them frequently for those needs. Travel mugs are popular gifts for clients as well as employee or thank you gifts. Given alone or paired with a packs of hot chocolate or coffee- everyone loves them.
Notebooks are a personal favorite. I love a good notebook. I even love a bad notebook. Big, small, fat, thin- I will not throw one away. And this is coming from someone that gets a lot of samples. There is literally a file cabinet drawer dedicated to my notebook stash. These gems are perfect swag giveaways for every marketer- and appreciated by every recipient. Jotter notebooks are great for trade show giveaways, hardware and grocery stores, machinery manufacturers, agricultural businesses and more. With a spiral top or side, these little notebooks fit perfectly in a pocket, purse or glove compartment and are convenient for jotting down notes or making a list. Larger notebooks can be used for sales meetings, seminars or events where attendees need to be able to take notes. Get creative with the cover stock- use a foil imprint, metal cover, die cut-out or full color imprint to make your journal really stand out. Leather or leather look adds class and increases the perceived value. A tip in page can also be added inside- allowing you space to incorporate a letter from the company president, a schedule of the event they are attending, or as a way to tell more about your products or services. The versatility and functionality of notebooks makes them my top swag gift idea for any size business.
Adhesive notes rounds out the last of my top classic swag ideas. I guess they could be considered the little cousin to notebooks, but they serve a different purpose. Want to remind the kids to take the lunch you packed? A post-it on the door as a reminder might do the trick. Or they might be without lunch. Need to make sure your client signs the legal documents in all the right places? Adhesive notes can easily mark the spot. As a promotional item that is useful in home or office, there isn’t much that beats an adhesive notepad for function and price. Smaller pads also make great envelope stuffers or direct mail pieces. Cubes work well in offices and offer imprints not only on each sheet, but on the sides of the cube as well. For an inexpensive giveaway at trade shows, to stuff swag bags, include in an information kit, or as a gift for the “gatekeeper”, sticky notes are hard to top.
Other classics that I love (but have a more specific audience) are lapel pins, buttons (wildly popular as college swag), thermometers and rain gauges.
Don’t avoid these items because they aren’t “new”. This swag has stood the test of time for a reason. Take it and make it your own.
Would you like to discuss what items will work for you and what items we think you should avoid? Give us a call or email us and we will be glad to help!