Mistakes to Avoid when Using Promotional Products

  • May 23, 2022

Promotional products are a fantastic way to build and promote your brand and boost sales. However, that can only work if you do it right. Unlike many other, more expensive marketing options, promotional products offer you a lot of room for customization. They also allow for numerous ways of implementation. This versatility, while immensely beneficial, also creates a lot of room for mistakes. Therefore, you need to be aware of common mistakes to avoid when using promotional products for advertising or marketing. If you fail into a trap and commit any of the following offenses, you will only waste your time and resources. 

The common mistakes when using promotional products

Here are the usual mistakes businesses make when using promotional materials to advertise their brand:

  1. No concrete objective
  2. No distribution plan
  3. Wrong product
  4. Bland design
  5. Prioritizing quantity over quality

What is your goal?

All advertising and marketing efforts must have a clear objective, and using promotional products is not an exception. If you don't know what you want to achieve, you won't know whether your campaign is working. And that would be the least of your problems. If you don't know what your promotional material is supposed to do, it can be completely ineffective, doing nothing but waste your time, money, and effort. 

Although choosing the type of product and working on the design is more fun, you first have to determine the purpose of the campaign. You may want to:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Encourage people to sign up on the mailing list
  • Increase brand awareness

Deciding on the purpose of the campaign will inform the choice of product, design, and distribution plan, which brings us to the next mistake.

Do you have a distribution plan?

You can't buy a load of promotional products without knowing what to do with them. Even if you rent business storage and have a good place for your inventory, filling git with boxes of keychains, pens, or notepads you have no idea how to disseminate is hardly a sound decision.

So, first, you must know what those products need to achieve. Then, you need to figure out precisely how you will distribute them to your audience. 

For example, if you want to encourage repeat purchases, you can include the promotional product with each purchase. On the other hand, if you're going to attract new customers, you can distribute free gifts at a tradeshow. However, don't think handing out your promo material to everyone who walks near you is an efficient or effective strategy. You need to target people who have the potential to become leads. Thus, instead of just handing a free gift, ask a potential recipient to sign up for a mailing list. 

Your distribution plan is essential because it makes achieving your objectives possible. Only when you have that part down can you move on to choosing the right product. 

Have you carefully considered the type of product?

The type of product you go for must be tailored to your audience. The biggest mistakes you can make when choosing a promotional product include:

  • Picking a product you like rather than the one that will increase your audience
  • Going for what is currently popular
  • Choosing something unique but impractical

When picking the right product, you need to consider your audience's needs. It should also be something functional that your customers or clients can benefit from. Therefore, do some research to determine what your audience's interests and needs are and find a product that will be well-received. 

For example, a beer jug is not a suitable present for an office supplier or a company that targets kids. Keychains are pretty universal but tend to be bland and too cliche. Also, products related to what you do may not be something your clients want. For instance, a printed screwdriver isn't a good gift for a regular person who hires contractors, so they don't have to deal with house repairs themselves. It is also not a suitable option for professional contractors who already have a bunch of high-quality tools they use. But a regular Joe who enjoys a quick DIY project and frequents a hardware store to get supplies from time to time - that's your target. 

What design do you have in mind?

While your company logo is an indispensable part of the design for your promotional products, it can't be the only thing you have there. Unless you are Coca-Cola or an apple someone has taken a bite off, many people won't know what you are about.

Moreover, although placing your logo on a product and calling it a day is a safe option, it's highly likely people won't respond to it. Besides not knowing what you do or sell, they will also find it dull. 

The product you give away should accomplish two things:

  • Be recognizable and a part of your brand. That recognition can come from: 
    • The design
    • Color scheme
    • Message or slogan 
  • Get people interested in your company. The way to do it is: 
    • The unique and aesthetically appealing imagery
    • Careful and captivating wording

A catchy slogan and an exciting design will grab people's attention and make them remember you.

Are you going for quality or quantity?

Read this question with a rising intonation for quality and a falling intonation for quantity. You know what you should pick here. In general, quality always beats quantity, especially in the long run. 

Although cost-effectiveness is one of the most significant advantages of promotional gifts, don't try to save by choosing the cheapest products. Sacrificing quality for quantity will cost you. 

People won't respond well to obviously shoddy items, so your campaign will hardly be effective. It may even get you a reputation for being cheap. 

Final words

Promotional gifts have great potential. They can raise brand awareness, increase sales, grow your audience, etc. At the same time, your clients and customer will get something they can use for a long time. Every time they reach out for the product, they will think of you. For your campaign to yield results, you have to know what mistakes to avoid when using promotional products and steer clear of them.


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