Promotional products are yet another tool from the many you can choose to market your organisation. They can range anywhere from the crass to the clever, and just about anything in the world can have a brand stamped on it. But do they really add anything to your marketing message? Can they create results? Can they build brand awareness?

The simple answer is yes to all of the above. But, there are a few golden rules to follow:

Find something that relates to your corporate objectives and of course your target market.

Find something that will be useful to your target audience, or will make their life easier – for example, if your target audience watches a lot of outdoor sports in winter, give them a poncho or an umbrella.

Find something that will last a long time (or provide replacements when they do get damaged or misplaced). Tony tells a great story of a promotional pen he received once which also came with free refills, which he kept for years.

Also consider very carefully the quality of your product choice, and the finish. Consider how it relates to your positioning and reflects on your organisation.

Find something that will be used time and time again (ideally in front of other members of your target audience).

Find something that will create impact, and be noticed.

Consider how practical transporting the item needs to be – how will you get it to your target audience?

Pay attention to customer suggestions, or to what sort of items they might need (or ask them!).

Don’t be restricted by what already exists – most promotional product companies (or marketing agencies) would be willing to customise anything with the right brief and budget.

If you don’t have the budget to produce thousands of something, produce a couple (or the minimum quantity) and use them as rewards for loyal customers (link them with a loyalty program), or staff rewards.

You can also use promotional products as a value added item and thus a supplementary income source (i.e. ‘for just $1 you can have a fabric carry bag’).

Consider promotional products as an opportunity to create moving billboards, or direct customer endorsements. They present opportunities for customer involvement, and for you to express the ‘personality’ of your organisation.

Consider the brand building effects of promotional products, not simply the direct sales effects (like sponsorship, they contribute to repeated brand exposure, which contributes to recognition, which contributes to trust, which eventually creates conviction once the customer is ready to make the purchase)

Promotional products can be one of the most useful marketing tools out there – but if not considered carefully, they can be a complete waste (which gives them a bad name). Consider them as part of a wider strategy, use them to back up, tease or support a larger marketing campaign and research the options out there – you’ll be surprised and excited, by the possibilities.