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Busting the 6 Biggest Promotional Product Myths

May 7, 2020 4 min read


Let’s be honest—promotional products aren’t new. In fact, promotional items date back to the 1700s when commemorative buttons were made for George Washington’s election as president. With quite a history behind them, it’s no wonder there are many misconceptions about these ubiquitous marketing tools.

Well, forget everything you thought you knew about promotional items! I’m here to bust the six biggest myths and let you in on the truth.

Myth #1: Ordering promotional items from a national company or big box store will be cheaper.

We’ve been trained to think that buying from a big box store will always cost less. Staples, Amazon, and even Walmart are now selling logoed advertising items. Since these retailers are already known for being inexpensive, we tend to assume that their promotional items will be, too.

The truth is...they’re not always less expensive than ordering from an independent distributor! Distributors are able to work directly with manufacturers, and may be aware of deals or discounts that the national chains can’t match.

Even when the prices are similar, there’s a money-saving element to working with an independent distributor: time. It takes time to search for the right products, place your order, and track your shipment, not to mention the time dealing with customer service if something goes wrong. With a smaller distributor, there is more focus on helping you find the right promo item and making your experience as stress-free as possible. Plus, you won’t have to sit on hold forever if you need help.

Myth #2: I can save money by ordering a large quantity of inexpensive items.

It’s hard to argue with the logic of this one. You’re looking at promotional products, and you see that the higher quantity you order, the less expensive they get per piece. To keep costs down, you might decide to order a large number of one particular item and continue to use it until it runs out—which could be a while.

But wait—that won’t save you money in the long run! Depending on the quality of the item, you could end up spending money on something that your recipients don’t find value in and don’t want. If that happens, you’ll end up spending even more money to replace those items with something better.

Be careful about quality when selecting a large number of promotional items. If a product isn’t well-made and durable, it could stop working over time, and you’ll be left with a box full of items that no one wants.

Myth #3: Promotional items just end up getting thrown away.

This one is actually true! But only if you’re giving away items that aren’t useful, valuable, unique, or memorable.

People are downsizing and decluttering more than ever. So yes, if your promotional item doesn’t make a connection with your recipients, chances are it won’t see the light of day after you hand it over.

How do you choose a promotional item that your recipients will actually want to keep? Here are the guidelines you should be using before placing a single promotional product order:

  • Always start by understanding your audience. Think about their demographics, behaviors, challenges, and interests.
  • Usefulness is key. Choose items that add value.
  • Pay attention to product quality and design. A well-made, aesthetically pleasing item is much more likely to be kept, and has a higher perceived value.

Need some inspiration? These articles will start you in the right direction:

5 Types of Must-Have Promotional Giveaways for Smart Marketers

6 Key Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ordering Promotional Products

The 4 Types of Promotional Products People Love to Receive

Myth #4: Promotional items are made of cheap materials that don’t last.

It’s not hard to see why this has become a prevalent misconception of promotional items, because many of the ones you see day-to-day are of lower quality. But they don’t have to be!

There is a huge variety of products of varying materials and quality available today. It all comes down to your budget—and your promotional budget is a reflection of how your organization chooses to brand itself.

There is a spectrum of options when it comes to the quality of a promotional item.You don’t have to break the bank to order impactful promotional items; on the other side of the coin, you don’t have to settle for commonplace items when what you’re really looking for is something with a wow factor. It all depends on your goals and budget. Many organizations are choosing to make the investment into higher quality items because they know the items will leave recipients with a lasting impression. The point is, you have a world of options!

Myth #5: It’s easy to order promotional items at the last minute.

While it is possible to place a rush order for branded promotional items, it’s not often possible to get the exact items you want at the last minute. Only some products are able to be rush-produced, and even then, your order depends on the manufacturer having enough of the item, in the correct color, and for the right price.

In addition to the options being significantly reduced at the last minute, no one wants to pay for rush production and rush shipping. Whenever possible, plan your promotional item ordering in advance to give yourself plenty of time and reduce stress.

Myth #6: Not everyone will take my promotional item, so I should order fewer than I really need.

Never underestimate the power of freebies! Often, promotional items will have minimum quantities you can order—and depending on your event, even the minimum can seem like too many.

Let me tell you from nearly twenty years of experience in this industry—the products will go more quickly than you imagine! You may lose some to employees, or to people taking more than their allotted amount.You may give the items away at a higher rate than you anticipated. Whatever the cause, promotional items tend to disappear; especially if they’re good items.

Always give yourself a buffer by ordering more than you think you’ll need. That way, you’ll be prepared for the unexpected.

There are many misconceptions out there about promotional items, but don’t believe everything you hear! Take time to do a bit of research, or contact a promotional marketing expert to help you choose the perfect items that meet your goals and fit within your budget.

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This post was originally published January 19, 2018