Branding with Giveaway Items that Don’t Suck

Branded Promotional ItemsBefore planning your next promotion, ask yourself: Do you really need another janky branded keychain? Are you going to hold onto the six dozen pens you pick up at your next trade show? Probably not. So why are you acting like your customers answer these questions any other way when they get branded promotional items?

If you’re going to devote a portion of your advertising budget to tchotchkes don’t waste your resources on an item that’s destined for the landfill. That’s literally – literally! – throwing money away. Find a giveaway item that does your brand proud. A great branded promotional item always meets at least one of basic criteria. It’s either useful or relevant to your brand.

Useful Items: Just because an item has a use doesn’t mean it’s useful (we’re looking at that lifetime supply of freebie pens you have in your offce). A useful item fulfills a need your potential customers have that isn’t being met, or addresses a potential issue in their future. For example, for last year’s Bike to Work Day, OTM and our partners gave riders a branded bike seat cover. It wasn’t raining that day, but knowing that literally everyone who stopped by our station was on a bike, we wanted to give them something they’d actually use.

For an item to be useful, it should:

  • Provides utility: Either immediately or in the future, it should be something with that’s worth keeping because it can be used. A bike seat cover is obviously useful.
  • Addresses an unmet need: Your item shouldn’t try to replace something your customers already own. You have pens. You don’t need more pens. It’s likely you don’t have a seat cover. Unmet need is now addressed.
  • Upstages previously owned items: If you’re looking to make a splash and command a budget that can back up those claims, dropping a promotional item that’s so high-quality your customers will use it rather than items they purchased themselves. OTM’s bike-seat cover? Not so much, but had we chose this route, we could have gone with a flat-repair kit with patches, cement, tire irons and a quick-inflate CO2 canister, and I’m pretty sure most riders would have chucked their $2 repair kits.

Relevant to Your Brand: If you can’t dream up an item that meets the useful standards, tying your tchotchke into your products or services is a great way to magnify its impact. You don’t have to be a barber giving away cheesy combs with your phone number on them to make this work either. Just be creative.

For example, we had a massage therapist who needed some giveaway items, but had a limited budget. After a brainstorming session (actually it was chatting during a chair massage) and being reminded of the importance of drinking water after a massage, we landed on the idea of promotional water bottles. Sure, branded water bottles are a commonplace giveaway in Fort Collins, but when it’s handed to a client, filled with ice water as part of a reminder to stay hydrated, it’s not just a promotional item: It’s part of the experience of the massage.

Don’t let your brand down with crappy giveaway items. Put a bit of thought into it and find a creative branded promotional item . Your potential customers don’t need another pen. Trust me on this.

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