I love promotional items, and I think they can be of significant value in keeping a company in the forefront of a client's mind. Some of my favorite items to receive have been good quality pens (I still use some of them), a re-usable shopping bag, a cube of post-it notes with the company's logo on both the side of the cube and on each leaf, and an umbrella with the school's logo on it and a place in the handle to put your own ID or business card. Some of the most successful promotions I've seen have been associated with photographers, largely in the form of thank you gifts in the form of prints, cards, and calendars, and calling cards with coupons that provide discounts to new customers and rewards for referrals.
Great post! I'd love to hear other members' input.
Great input, Lisa, thanks for posting! I agree it would be nice to hear from other members too, to get perspectives from owners of all types of businesses.
Do any of our members already have experience using promotional items for their small businesses? They can be quite effective, but they have to be done right. And that does not just mean a quality product.
You'll want to choose things that people will actually use, so that they will both keep it around and see your information frequently enough to consider you first when they need the type of services you offer.
Consider carefully what the items are. Not only should they be useful, but if possible try to use items that relate to your business.
Design must be done carefully (how many logos have we seen that could unintentionally be interpreted as something completely wrong compared to how it should look?), consider hiring a graphic designer or traditional artist to create the right rendering of your logo, message, and other text such as contact information. If you have not already done so, try to get yourself a domain for your company that you can have an email address at, instead of something like gmail or your ISP -- this can make a big difference in how professional you come off. These are also not things easily changed once you've had a thousand items printed or imprinted or molded with your it all. It also helps if the logo/text design is overall aesthetically pleasing as this also makes it more likely that people will like to see it around regularly. If you have a clever or attractive logo, for instance, make good use of it in the space you have on products.
And finally, quality DOES matter. Not only can it hinder that goal of making sure it is an item people keep around and use often, but a shoddy product associated with your business, even if you did not manufacture it, can make a horrible impression on prospective customers. Once you've committed to having these made to be handed out, be prepared to spend a little more for a product that will hold up and truly represent you best.
We welcome any further input, experiences, or questions you might have on the topic of promotional items.