Top 5 Promotional Product Marketing Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Shopping for work can be fun, and ordering promotional products for your next campaign or special event might be the highlight of executing your marketing strategy. But the promotional products marketing road, though well-travelled, does pose some marketing mistakes and we’re here to help you avoid them. 

1. Budget Mismatch

Beware of going too low-cost for high-end clients (or too luxurious for everyday giveaways). Imagine handing out a “has it all” tumbler like this Full Color 18 oz Julian Stainless Steel Bottle. A guaranteed winner, right? Maybe not. If you’re distributing that tumbler to all attendees of a job fair, you’ll go broke before you fill your openings. Imagine celebrating your employee’s 20-year anniversary on the team with a plastic bike bottle like this 24 oz. Translucent Sport Bottle with Pull Top Lid. This may be a best-selling bike bottle, but more suited to a fun run or field trip than a milestone event. When defining your promotional products marketing strategy, keep the occasion in mind, and back into a product that fits within your budget while matching the vibe of your event.  

2. Copy Cram

A common print mistake is trying to fit too much text in the imprint area when you order promotional products. Say you’ve chosen this recycled cotton tote bag to thank donors and volunteers at your non-profit. You know a tote gives you visibility wherever your recipient uses it, so you want to take full advantage of the generous imprint space the tote bag provides. You go for a tiny font and include your mission, vision, phone number and street address, plus website just to be safe! The end result: Your messaging loses aesthetic appeal and anyone who’s far-sighted may need to dig readers out to see it. Avoid this marketing mistake by keeping in mind: Less is more! Focus on your logo and website, and if you’ve got extra imprint space, add a slogan or campaign.  

3. Forgetting to Add Important Info

On the other hand, and equally important in the promotional products marketing best practice playbook, don’t assume your small business name speaks for itself. If you’re imprinting your bakery name on a full color tote bag, be sure you add a tagline or slogan that includes the word bakery, baked goods, or similar. If your small business has a common name, include a website to help customers find you. 

4. Off-Brand Merch Choices

Sometimes a promotional product is so appealing you forget you’re not shopping for yourself but for a gift that reinforces your small business product, service, and brand. Although a high-end backpack like this Osprey Sportlite™ 20 Recycled Nylon Backpack would inspire anyone to get outside, if your company makes concrete for city development, this may not be the best product to advance your brand. Instead, this Commuter Laptop Backpack may be just the ticket. Choose a giveaway that reflects your line of business, key values, or customer interests. No fetch toys if you run a pet cemetery. Instead, choose custom mints or a pocket notebook and pen set to capture emotions and memories.  

5. Clash of the Colors

Another marketing mistake to avoid is choosing product colors that clash with your logo colors. If you’re leveraging the awesome impact of strong colors such as those featured on our Full Color Bright Soft Touch Paragon Pen, choose a logo color that complements rather than clashes. If your promotional product comes with a full color logo imprint, choose a background color that contrasts with your logo or consider a neutral shade like black or white that ensures your full color logo is the main attraction. Tip: If you want max impact for your logo, choose full color options within our best-selling merch categories: pens, bags, and drinkware.  

Final Thoughts on Marketing Mistakes

But are they mistakes, really? For sure, you want to consider the tips above, allow plenty of time for production and delivery (last-minute swag can be a gamble), and ensure your promotional product marketing fits into any overarching campaign. But when we look at what to consider when buying promotional products, keep in mind that the hallmark of a successful small business is pivoting, adapting, trying, failing, and staying in the game. As Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win, or I learn.” Keep learning! Keep winning! Enjoy using promotional products to sell your brand, show you care, and put smiles on the faces of recipients of all sorts.  

P.S. For tips on how to use promotional products effectively, check out our blog, Best Promotional Items to Buy in Bulk to Get and Keep Customers . For more on small business success stories, the role of failure in winning, and the importance of pivoting, read our blog, Small Business Success Stories and How to Craft Yours.   

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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