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How SMBs Can Benefit Promotional Products

The history of promotional products dates back to the 18th century in the United States, during the George Washington’s 1789 presidential election. Commemorative buttons were the first promotional merchandise followed by calendars and wooden specialties.

However, the industry as we know it was not developed until the beginning of the 19th century. It all started when Jasper Freemont Meek, an owner of newspapers in Ohio saw a child dropping the schoolbag on the street. The idea for the invention flashed across his mind. Why wouldn’t he imprint a bag with a simple message? He approached Cantwell, an owner of Cantwell Shoes and the next thing you know, school children wore the bags on which “Buy Cantwell Shoes” was printed.

Improving Customers’ Opinion of the Company

The Australasian Promotional Product Association (APPA) reports that Australian marketers spend around $1.34 billion on promotional products. As this is a high-stakes marketing strategy, we cannot but conclude that it works. One of the reasons why this type of promotion is so effective is that with every promotional product, the image of the company is improved.

Psychology plays a key role here. The main function of gifts is that they develop and maintain the relationship between clients (givers) and customers (receivers). As in physics, where, for every action, there is an equal, but opposite reaction, the act of giving results in the reciprocating act of giving back. In short, it is in human nature to reward good deeds.

A Low Cost

Small businesses usually have a tight budget limiting their marketing campaigns. The good news is that almost all promotional products cost between $5 and $25 dollars. Even though they are all affordable, not all promotional items are created equal. In other words, there is a correlation between the price of the merchandise and the impression it leaves on the consumer. The Promotional Products Association International carried out a survey in 2011 on this subject.

The study entitled High End, Low End: Which Promotional Products Work Best? shows that a majority of the recipients thought that the gifts costing more than $25 and the ones with a price tag between $10 and $25 are received because companies wanted to thank them for doing business with them. In contrast, the reason why respondents believe they were given the products in the price range $5 to $9.99 and those under $5 was brand awareness.

The same survey gives us the information on the most popular promotional products. In the $25 and more category, watches, jackets, shirts and gift cards are in the top four. A majority of respondents recalled shirts when it comes to the promotional merchandise costing between $10 and $25. Shirts along with pens and coffee mugs were the winners in the $5 to $9.99 category, too. Finally, the most widely acquired products costing under $5 are calendars, notepads, and pens. Custom branded shirts are featured in three out of four categories, making them a customers’ favourite item.

Increasing Brand Loyalty

The ultimate goal of your marketing campaign is that consumers become committed to your brand and make not only one but several repeating purchases regardless the cost. Marketers use a variety of strategies to reward their loyal customers, one of them being a free gift. Consumers feel secure when they buy something from a trusted brand and loyalty programmes show them that you, as an owner of the company, appreciate their decision to do so. In addition, not only do promotional products help you encourage the existing customers to buy the item, they help you attract the new ones to your business, too.

You should consider three things when choosing a promotional product. It should be useful, relevant and representative. Additionally, always pay attention to the studies related to the industry as they can give you the valuable insight into consumer psychology.

Written By

Lillian believes that the question of business goes far beyond the maximization of profit through different money-grabbing ploys. Instead, she likes to think that ethical principles should be at the core of every commercial venture, paving the way for much more balanced distribution of wealth on a global scale. As a seasoned business consultant, she tends to advise her clients to always focus on long-term goals and sustainability, rather than on some questionable get-rich-fast schemes.rn



  1. Christiana Jones

    November 2, 2017 at 7:38 am


    Great information! These are the finest way to promote your business at low cost. I also want to promote my small business and I guess I got the best ideas here.

    Thanks for your share…

  2. Richard

    January 2, 2018 at 3:50 am

    Low cost yet great strategy for a business this is interesting, I would try this one on my business, more tricks more income…

  3. David

    July 18, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Great stuff, thanks for this article. What I like the most about the strategy is the low cost and that`s great for experimentation.

  4. Siddhant Shrestha

    February 10, 2020 at 3:19 am

    Great Blog! Promotional merchandise is the most effective marketing tool available to any marketer.

  5. Siddhant Shrestha

    February 10, 2020 at 3:20 am

    Great Blog! As a marketer, it is very easy to be consumed by all the hype around digital marketing. However, promotional merchandise is still one of the most effective ways to create brand insistence among your customers.

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