Promotional items are an incredibly effective way of getting your brand in front of prospective and existing customers. From pens and pads to cups and calendars, there’s really no end to what you can send. And not only can promotional items look the part, but, if done right, they can help to really elevate your brand above the competition.  

To find out how and why, keep reading for 5 benefits of using promotional items. 

They stand out from the business card crowd

Imagine introducing yourself to someone at a networking event, and you notice they’re carrying a pair of giant sunglasses. Chances are you’ll ask them about the sunglasses. If the sunglasses were a gift from someone else in the room, then all of a sudden you find that you’ve instigated a conversation about someone else’s brand. 

Such is the power of promotional items. At the very least they serve as conversation starters, not just for yourself but for others too. 

Of course business cards are vital in their own way, but they’re also a standard component of networking. Everyone has them. Obviously, designing a stellar business card is enough on its own to stand out from the crowd. But adding promotional items to your networking mix can play a huge part in differentiating your brand.

Promotional items are useful 

Think of even the most common promotional items: pens, USB sticks, coasters, mugs. What do they all have in common? They’re useful.

If you offer someone an item they can actually use, then they’re probably going to keep it. Have a quick glance around your own office and likely you’ll find something that was given to you by another business. 

By offering useful items, you’re offering value. You’re not just handing someone a flyer and hoping they’ll be interested in the content. Promotional items are more generous by nature. You’re giving something away for free that would, under other circumstances, cost money to purchase. Even if it’s something as small as a pen, there’s value in the gesture of simply giving it away.  

Not only can this endear you to your customers, but it will make your brand more trustworthy and memorable. And the more useful the item, the more often it will be used, the more frequently your brand will be seen

They can increase brand loyalty

Promotional items are an excellent tool for increasing customer loyalty. According to a study carried out by the BPMA, 79% of people who had received a free product from a company would likely do business with that company again. And more than half of participants claimed that their opinion of the company improved after receiving the gift.  

So by giving things away, you’re attracting people to your brand. And those people may display more loyalty towards you for the simple gesture of giving them a gift. In short, giving away a pen, or a coaster, or a calendar, is a very good trade for increased brand loyalty.  

They’re tangible

Unlike digital marketing, a promotional item offers something that can be physically touched and felt. This tangibility not only acts as a novelty in itself, but provides customers with a sense of value that’s much more impactful.

In the same survey cited above, 87% of participants kept a promotional item for longer than a year. In a marketing context, that’s a huge amount of time. Imagine the cost of digitally advertising to the same audience day after day for an entire year. It would be unfeasible for most small/medium businesses. With a promotional item, however, all that’s required is a one-off investment, which could pay off for a long time to come.

The inherent value of a physical item acts as a marketing anchor. If you give someone a branded pen, they don’t keep it because it has your logo on the side. They keep it because it’s a pen, and pens are useful. The beneficial knock-on effect is that whenever they use the pen, they see your logo and think of your brand. A small price to pay, from the customer’s perspective, for a free pen!

They let you be creative 

Promotional items can act as seeds from which larger creative ideas grow. Rather than thinking of ideas from scratch, you can centre your ideas around whichever promotional items you have to hand. 

For example, if you have a box-load of pens, then you can create a branded word search to accompany them. Or if you’re sending out coasters, maybe you could also send out miniature tea hampers. In this way you’re bolstering these otherwise mundane items with your very own creative flair. Which shows your customers the creative potential of your brand whilst actively benefitting them. 

You have the opportunity to use your promotional items as creative springboards. You can offer something of practical value whilst simultaneously showing off your imaginative chops. It’s a double-whammy win-win. 

Let’s get physical 

For more on the wonderful world of tangible marketing, see the best direct mail marketing campaigns. Or for something a little more hands-on, take a look at our guide on how to create your very own zine.

Considering that everyone at a networking event will be giving out business cards, it’s easy to see how a promotional item could add a lot of value.  

Business cards are great. They serve an invaluable purpose, and long may they do so. But promotional items can make excellent side offerings when handing out cards at networking events.