Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in July of 2015 and has since been updated with new unique products to stay on top of promotional trends.
What if I told you that understanding the human brain can help take your marketing to the next level? That’s a loaded statement, but it’s a lot simpler once we break it down.
You see, marketing is all about human behavior. That’s why data constantly shows that promotional products work. It all comes down to a principle called reciprocity, which speaks to the human need to want to give something back when something is received. Robert Cialdini explains this further in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, where he discusses how people are hard-wired to respond positively to a gift, even if they didn’t ask for it.
A popular study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology demonstrates this by revealing the gift of a single mint at the end of dinner led to a 3% increase in tips.
We can even see the proof of this in our own lives. Think back to a time you bought someone a gift because they bought one for you, or maybe you donated to a specific organization because they gave you a free gift.
But in business, all of this can backfire if not executed properly. Give a poorly thought out gift, and a company risks being seen as inauthentic or “just looking to make a sale.” The feeling of needing to act in kind or to give back is strongest when a recipient feels a gesture was genuine in its attempt to thank or serve. By understanding this principle of reciprocity, businesses can build relationships that last.
The best way to achieve this is by being intentional about the products you choose to hand out as company gifts. Products should be unique and solve some type of need.
What Makes a Unique Promotional Product?
- Useful Items - When selecting a promotional product, think about an essential need you're aiming to solve. The best gifts will have a use outside of just promoting your brand. This requires digging a bit deeper into either your buyer or employee personas to truly understand what they want and need.
- Two-In-One Products - If it has more than one use, it’s probably a life simplification tool. Anytime you give a gift that can make someone’s life easier, there will be a sense of gratitude, which is key to making your employees or customers feel valued.
- Product Trends - Think about items in high demand. What’s that one product that everyone is rushing to the store to get? This year, the most sought after items are a combination of stylish, useful and forward thinking. Keeping up with the latest 2020 promotional product trends is a great place to start when trying to choose unique.
These are the three things you should consider if you want to increase the effectiveness of your promotional products. By giving a unique item that solves a problem or need, you’ll be leveraging promo product trends to boost your marketing results.
To help get you started, we’ve selected a list of unique promotional products that your employees or customers will love.
Coloring books are making their way into the adult world, and not just because they are fun. Recent research proves coloring is a great stress reliever and a productivity booster. One study conducted at the University of the West of England revealed that a group of participants who spent 20 minutes coloring reported being more content, energetic, and calm. They also reported higher levels of mindfulness and creative flow. Giving a gift that provides all three of these benefits shows that you care about the wellbeing of your employees or customers.
This specific coloring book set features a kraft brown paper cover that encourages a creative design. You can brand your company’s logo on the front with a full-color digital custom book cover design. The book comes with a 6-color pre-sharpened pencil set, which you can also put your company’s logo on with a one-color imprint.
2. Desktop Bag Toss Game
This desktop bag toss game is an excellent example of a unique promotional product that you can’t just find anywhere. Everyone has heard of the cornhole lawn game. Some companies have even implemented the game into their strategy for positive workplace culture. The trouble is not every office has space for full-sized games, and the weather and winter make it impossible for this team building activity to be universally available.
That’s where this mini version for desks comes in! The wood game set is 10.25 X 5.5 inches and comes with six mini bags, making it perfect for employees to keep on their desks. The game can be purchased in white or a natural wood color, ensuring sure your company logo stands out. Overall, this is a great gift to show clients and prospects you care, or a fun way to improve company morale around your own office.
3. UV Sanitizing Box
In the age of COVID-19, everyone is concerned about germs. The number of microbes on your phone, earbuds, or touch screens wasn’t a top of mind concern in the past. But now, cleaning every surface we touch is the first thing we think of, especially in the workplace.
The challenge is finding an effective cleaning solution for these electronic devices. Until recently, the best option was a microfiber cloth. But we’ve seen a new product hit the market - and it works.
What’s great about this UV Sanitizing Box is that it is the perfect size for small electronic devices, keys, or other small and hard-to-clean items. UV light sanitizers use UV-C light to kill 99% of all germs. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reports that this light has been known to destroy other coronaviruses, and is likely to work on the novel coronavirus. Our employees at DMG find it especially useful for quickly sanitizing our masks if they fall on the ground or are contaminated in some way.
The box is easy to use by a simple connection to a power supply. Just pop your item into the box, close the lid, and the UV lights on top, and the bottom will sterilize your items. The portable size makes it perfect for desks or even use in the car. Your logo can be imprinted in full color in the center of the box and will stand out nicely with the box’s two-tone design - white exterior and grey interior.
4. Personalized M&M'S®
Typically when you think of promotional items, you think of something with a lasting lifetime. But with this mindset, many companies are missing out on the opportunity to solve an essential need for prospects - something sweet.
Personalized M&M’S®, branded with your logo and company’s color, are a great thing to have on hand either at the office, during a tradeshow, or simply as a client or employee gift or mailer. When someone realizes they are hungry, you’ll be immediately solving their need, and they’ll be thanking you for keeping their best interests at heart - even when they forgot.
Another cool idea? Use branded M&M’S® to make virtual events more enjoyable. A great idea from one client of ours is to use these candies as a networking break during an online webinar.
Make the candy your own by choosing up to three colors out of 23 options. Your full-color company name or logo can be branded front and center. Each pack comes in a personal size measuring 3 x 3.75 inches and is filled with 3/4 ounces of candy-coated chocolate. Everyone can have their own pack, so no need to worry about hands spreading germs.
5. Touch Tool
A gift sure to show that you care in this new normal we’re living in is one that will protect your prospects or employees anywhere that they go. The Touch Tool is a new item that’s designed to do just that. It’s a small and compact tool that helps the user limit contact with surfaces like doors, locks, keypads, or even mailboxes. It’s designed with a pointed end perfect for pressing buttons and a hook feature, perfect for carrying grocery bags or pulling a handle.
Here are two different versions of the Touch Tool. One is made of durable, high strength ABS plastic. It comes in white and is available and can be customized with a full-color edge-to-edge logo imprint.
The other option is the Touch Tool Pro, which is made from solid, antimicrobial bass. The brass material provides an extra level of protection as it’s properties are known to rapidly kill bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. The Touch Tool Pro includes a stylus tip for touchscreens and can be engraved with your company’s logo.
6. Smart Bottle
There’s nothing worse than a bottle that fails to keep cold drinks cold or hot drinks hot. Enter the ever-popular vacuum-insulated stainless steel bottles we’ve come to know and love. But this Smart Bottle takes things to the next level by including a battery-operated touch display lid that shows the temperature of the liquid and comfort range indicator. It makes burning your mouth a thing of the past.
The bottle comes in a powder-coated black matte finish and is made of double-wall insulated stainless steel, which is FDA certified. It’s guaranteed to keep beverages hot or cold for up to 24 hours. The cap is a wide mouth screw-on design. Your logo can either be laser or digitally imprinted, and you can choose a full wrap or a single- or double-side brand.
7. Portable Diffuser
Home used to be a place associated with relaxation— “to come home” after a long, hard day, and destress. But now, between working from the home office and kids learning remotely from home as well, “home” might hold a lot more stress than it used to.
This portable USB diffuser kit is a great way to give the gift of aromatherapy, which is proven to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. Measuring 1.75 X 3.75 inches, this diffuser is made for easy transitions between rooms or workplaces. Choose from seven different essential oils: Focus, Immunity, Karma, Cloud 9, Exhale, Invigorate, and Tranquility. Each oil has its own relaxing scent and unique health benefits. Make it your own by adding your company’s full-color logo.
Though a higher-priced item, this diffuser kit would make a great holiday gift for valued clients or employees and truly help bring a little stress relief to any home.
8. Custom Branded Sneakers
We live in a world where individuality is celebrated and encouraged. The value of expression has brought a new focus on the need for everything to be unique - including our wardrobes.
Retailers everywhere have seen a rise in customizable products, and the shoe industry is no different. Brands like Nike and Adidas delight customers by offering various custom-designable shoes. Now, smaller sites like Etsy and The Custom Movement are picking up steam in the custom shoe industry and slowly taking business away from those big brand names. This tells us people want more customization. They want a shoe they can wear proudly, with confidence that no one has ever seen their unique style before.
You can solve that need for individuality by designing your own pair of company shoes. These polyester custom printed sneakers are a perfect place to start. They feature a modern look and can be purchased in both men’s and women’s sizes. The shoes are made with very high UV protection and materials to give you rich color and hue that won’t fade. Add a company logo to the lace-ups, and choose a full dye-sublimation design with PMS matching, and we can guarantee no one will have quite the same shoes as your company.
You’ve heard of a lined notebook and a blank journal, but have you ever heard of a dotted notebook? Bullet journaling is an emerging trend that uses dotted notebooks to take organization, planning, and notetaking to the next level. This new movement has picked up steam on social media. Just look up Bullet Journal on Instagram.
The idea of the dotted notebook is to help keep handwriting neater and more organized. The dots make it easier to draw straight lines and create breaks in the pages as you please. It also gives you more freedom to be more creative in your note-taking or journaling.
This specific three-in-one meeting book combines the unique feature of bullet journaling with the loved features of a lined notebook and a blank journal. It gives people options and flexibility to use what works best for them. It’s a perfect company gift and will help employees consolidate notes, sketches, brainstorms, and explore the world of bullet journaling all in one convenient book.
The front cover is flexible, made with vegan leather. It comes with three bookmark ribbons and an elastic pen loop and band closure. Brand your company’s logo on the front with a deboss imprint or foil stamp. You also have the option of adding a full color printed logo inside the journal.
Key Takeaway: Think Before You Give
The main focus when selecting promotional products for employee or client gifts is to think about an item’s usefulness. The purpose of your gift should always be more about the receiver than your company.
Remember, the reciprocity principle doesn’t work if people feel the gift is a gimmick. Use these truly unique promotional items to help solve your prospects or employees’ problems. You’d be surprised at the loyalty they’ll give your company in return.