How to Make Your First Promotional Products Giveaway a Success

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BIC promotional pens

We all love being on the receiving end of promotional products (a.k.a. “swag”) – what’s not to like about getting something useful (coffee mugs, mini screwdrivers, or anti-bacterial gel) or something really cool like a USB lava lamp or a laser pointer?  When you’re finally ready to have your first campaign using promotional gifts, keep these 7 points in mind to make the ordering process a breeze and your promotion – a success!

1. What is the goal for your promotion?

It is important to establish a goal and expected outcomes (metrics) for your promotion. Often, your promotional items purchase is an investment – not an expense – so shoot for positive return (ROI). Are you looking to spread the word? How many more calls, leads, or customers do you need to get to break even? To meet your goal?

Are you throwing a customer appreciation event with “thank you for your business” gifts? How many more of your customers will repeat their purchase again in a coming year?

With employee gifts, such as company t-shirts, your metric could be something as easy as percent of people wearing them to work. Adam Nash, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn, has started a great series of posts on ordering company t-shirts and recommends that spending extra pays off: “Better to spend $12 for shirts you’ll see for the next two years than $5 on shirts you won’t see again.”

2. Who will receive your products? Are they likely to find them useful?

Know your target market. Establish qualifying criteria for prospects or customers to receive your gift, depending on your goals. There’s no shortage of people looking to score some “free swag,” but are you giving promotional products to the right audience? You better – or your goals won’t be met.

Worth noting, the best promotional gifts are the ones which will deliver hundreds of impressions for your business or organization. There’s no value in giving a product which won’t be used.

Tip: Order a sample of the product and try it yourself! Do you find yourself using it a lot?! How do you like the quality of the imprint and the product itself?

3. Does your product choice work well for your type of business or organization?

It’s always great to see a connection between business type and promotional gift. Do you own a small bike shop? Custom water bottles would be a great choice for promotion. For bakery, think measuring spoons or custom jars for your prospect’s kitchen. For a law firm, your choice could be a planner, padfolio or a pen/calendar gift set.

4. What about the environment?

You can further enhance your promotional campaign by opting in for environmentally-friendly products. Choose recycled paper for your Post-Its® or notepads, custom pens from biodegradable corn, or simply reusable items which eliminate waste, such as coffee tumblers or stainless water bottles.  Your customers will appreciate that you share their concern for the planet.

5. What about the branding and messaging?

Putting your organization’s logo on a product is always a great idea, but what other message are you planning to put on your promotional items? It will depend on your goals. For brand awareness campaigns, I recommend including a call-to-action – something you want your potential customers to do – either to call you, visit your website, or simply stop by your location.  Include all appropriate info on your promo products!

For company pens or shirts, your logo alone will often be sufficient.

Explore different options with the given imprint size, location(s), and number of imprint colors available. Know your restrictions — for example, a detailed, vertical logo wouldn’t look good on laser-engraved pens. Requesting a “paper proof” is always a great idea – it is usually a PDF showing the real size of your imprint.

6. Are you staying within your budget?

Set your budget from the beginning. When searching for promotional products, be careful to understand the pricing for the quantity you are planning to order. Does your order quantity satisfy the minimum quantity requirement? You might find a perfect product, but the minimum order may be 250 pieces—way more than you need.  Do your research and pay attention to this number. Each “quantity break” pricing is different — the more you order, the better deal you’ll be getting.

Also, make a note of any set-up charges, any additional fees you may incur if you want another imprint color or a second imprint location, inquire about potential overruns (sometimes up to 10% — certain equipment still requires that), and shipping & handling costs. Finally, know where your vendor is located and whether your order will be charged any sales tax.

Tip: Look for coupons!  Prior to ordering, make sure to sign-up for email specials and/or follow the vendor’s Twitter or Facebook. Many companies post coupons through these channels – sometimes up to 20% off!

7. Have you considered all possibilities when placing your order?

OK—You are all set to place an order and are pumped about the upcoming promotion! But first — did you allow enough time for your order to be produced and received on-time (without resorting to expedited delivery)? Give your vendor a date you need your products by and hold them accountable. It is always a good idea to receive your items at least a week or two ahead – this will allow you to still meet your deadline in case there are any problems.

Finally, what happens in an unfortunate event when you simply don’t like the way your order turned out?  Or—due to no fault of your own—you missed your event and no longer need the products? Reputable vendors have satisfaction guarantees and will offer a reprint or full refund. Discuss this with your sales rep or research the website.

Still got questions?

Following the tips I’ve outlined here will hopefully help you plan and execute a successful event for your business. Please let us know how they worked for you in the comments below!

Do you still have questions? Please don’t hesitate to call us (1-800-203-9917) & knowledgeable staff at Amsterdam Printing will walk you through the process. Once you run your first successful promotion, ordering for your next one actually becomes fun!

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Post by Slavik Volinsky, Online Marketing Manager at

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