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Avoid These 6 Promotional Product Ordering Mistakes

May 6, 2020 3 min read

Choosing products, sending over your company logo, and hitting the Submit button—ordering promotional products seems pretty straightforward, right? Many people are surprised to learn that there’s a bit more to it than that, especially if you want a final product that’s high quality, long-lasting, and well-designed.

After being in the promotional industry for over 15 years, I have seen my share of orders that have gone wrong. Here are the six most common pitfalls companies face when ordering promotional products—and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Too much information on one product

You want prospective customers to know as much about your company as possible—but promotional products are not the place to display all of your business information in one place. Promo product design should be clean and simple with minimal elements. If there is too much information, your imprint may be poor quality because the design elements are too small. It may seem like a good idea to put as much information as possible on one promo item, but you will most likely be unhappy with the result.

  • How to Avoid This Mistake: Be realistic about the size of the item you are ordering. Obviously, a tote bag will have a much larger imprint area than a pen. Also, keep in mind that the attractiveness of the item is just as important as having your company information on it if you want people to hold on to--and use--your promotional product.

Mistake #2: Waiting until the last minute

Things happen. We all get distracted, underestimate our timelines, or drop the ball from time to time. But waiting too long is one of the most common—and most costly—promotional product ordering mistakes you can make.

First, if you wait too long, you risk not getting the promo items you originally wanted. The items could be out of stock, or the production time could be too long to meet your deadline. And, once you do place your order, you may end up paying expedited shipping costs and rush order fees. Overall, waiting until the last minute to order promotional items can be both costly and, ultimately, disappointing.

  • How to Avoid This Mistake: Anticipate your upcoming events by blocking them out on your marketing calendar. Then create a timeline for ordering your promotional items. Give yourself enough time to select products, approve the final design, and have the items produced and shipped.

Mistake #3: Ordering too few items

To save money, many companies order the minimum amount of promotional items possible. The problem with this strategy is that the minimum quantity is often not enough. You may give the items out at a higher rate than you anticipated; your employees may start taking the promos for themselves; you may misplace some when transporting them to a trade show or event. As someone who orders many promotional products for my own company, I can tell you that they run out more quickly than you might think. 500 may sound like a huge number of one item, but they can run out like that.

The result of ordering too few promotional items to begin with is that, soon enough, you need to order more. Most often, promotional items get less expensive per piece when you order higher quantities. Therefore, ordering two batches of 500 pens at separate times will ultimately be more expensive than ordering one batch of 1,000.

  • How to Avoid This Mistake: Make promotional products part of your budget, instead of thinking of them as an extra cost. This will allow you to more easily anticipate the products your company will need, and order accordingly while saving money.

Mistake #4: Focusing on budget over quality

This is another attempted money-saving tactic that usually goes wrong. Giving out cheap promotional products can actually be detrimental to your brand.  To recipients, promotional products serve as a reflection of your brand. Employees don't want to give out cheap promotional products, and people don't want to receive them. (There is a difference between cheap and cost-effective!)

  • How to Avoid This Mistake: Always keep in mind that your promotional giveaways are a direct reflection of your company. If budget is truly a concern, work with a promotions expert to choose cost-effective items that are still high quality, useful and unique.

Mistake #5: Ignoring the importance of color and design>

Promotional products are an investment in your company’s marketing, and you have certain expectations for how you’d like them to turn out. But creating a stellar promotional item that stands out and looks great is not as simple as slapping your logo on an item. Careful consideration needs to be put into the color and design of the item, and a major mistake companies often make is haphazardly selecting colors or design elements that end up looking off.

  • How to Avoid This Mistake: The most effective way to avoid this mistake is to work with a promotional company that has a robust design department so that they can help you throughout every step to create a product that looks the best it possibly can.

Mistake #6: Disregarding the target audience

Too often, companies select promotional products based on personal preferences without stopping to consider the recipients. But usefulness is a key reason why people hold on to promotional items, and the definition of usefulness could change depending on the audience.

  • How to Avoid This Mistake: Before you place your next promotional product order, take time to think about what your audience would really like to receive. Instead of basing your promo items on what the people in your company like, base them on what your recipients like.

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This post was originally published August 24, 2016