How to Choose the Best Marketing Promotional Items

Kristen Handler

“Let’s do something different this year. Let’s find a great promo product for our company, something cost-effective, but that people will use. Something fresh!”

How many of you have had this conversation at your marketing meetings to kick off the year? As the marketing assistant, and person responsible for our promotional products, my heart skips a beat slightly when the conversation turns in this direction. If you’ve ever had to order promotional products you know this is no easy feat! Finding something cost-effective, that will appeal to the masses, internally and externally can seem like an impossible task.

For example, last year I was assigned my very first promo item order. We were to send chocolates to a user conference we were sponsoring. I conducted my due diligence and carefully weighed the cost vs. benefits of square chocolates vs. truffles, single wrapped vs. two chocolates per box, gold vs. silver imprint. We ended up choosing two decadent truffles per box, with a lovely silver imprint.

In the interest of being very responsible, we were way ahead of schedule, so we instructed our purveyor to hold the order for two weeks. Well, (can you guess where this is going?) a few days later I receive an email from our purveyor. Our delicate truffles are on their way to hot, sunny, sweltering Florida, two weeks ahead of schedule! After some back and forth, we were told the hotel could hold them in a cool, dry place and everyone agreed they would be just fine. Even my food technologist husband pointed out that truffles sit on store shelves across the country with no ill-effect. A wave of relief washed over me and all was right with the world.

Fast forward two weeks and we deploy a very clever Twitter campaign (if we do say so ourselves) asking conference attendees to share a picture of their chocolates and they would be entered to win a prize. After a few strange tweets, we received an email from our strategist on site, letting us know there was an issue with the chocolate making it “not so appealing.”

I wanted the ground to swallow me up. How could this happen?!?! After a slew of very angry email exchanges with our purveyor, some groveling for the show attendees, and many apologies, one thing we have taken away is that we are never ordering edible promo items again. It is just too much of a liability. And even though we purchased the candy from a well-respected purveyor and never even saw the chocolates ourselves, it was still our logo imprinted oh-so-beautifully on the box.

So how can you avoid the panic feeling when the conversation turns to promotional items – and avoid a chocolate-tastrophy? Here are my top 6 tips for choosing the best marketing promotional items.

6 Tips for Great Promotional Products:

  • Think of your promo being placed in 91% of your audience’s kitchen. (Calendars, chip clips, coffee mugs, water bottles, etc.) That is valuable real estate!
  • Pens, the old standby, make up the lion’s share of 74% of your audiences’ workspace promo items.
  • Promotional t-shirts can be found in as many as 55% of homes. But you don’t want your logo tied up as a bath mat, so maybe spend the few extra dollars and go for the dry fit.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new items. One of our core values here at Informz is agility. To meet our clients’ needs, we strive to be flexible and adapt to a changing world. Don’t feel like you need to order the same plain-Jane pen every year because that’s the way it’s always been. Try something new, take note of the reaction, and make changes, if necessary.
  • Many purveyors will provide free samples. Take advantage of that!
  • Lastly, feel free to reach out to us at We are a living, breathing marketing team and are always happy to share the journey!

Hopefully, these tips will come in handy as you navigate the world of promotional items.  Here’s hoping your promo items land on your customers’ cherished favorites list as well! What’s the most successful promo item your organization has purchased?

Looking for more first-hand accounts of what we’ve learned along our marketing journey? Check them out here.

About the Author
Kristen Handler

As the Marketing Assistant, Kristen is tasked with the maintenance of prospect and customer information, distributing inbound leads to the sales team, and assisting in tradeshow logistics. She is your typical INTJ, always seeking to make sense and order of two young children.