What are the top promotional products

Marketing is something that every business needs.

There are hundreds if not thousands of marketing strategies that you can use to promote your products and services. There is traditional marketing and digital marketing, organic and paid. From all these strategies, promotional products seem to be one of the most effective ways to promote your business. Whether it’s printing your branding on a t-shirt or distributing useful corporate stationery there are lots of ideas that you can use to your advantage to raise awareness of your business. That being said, there are certain products that perform better than others and it all depends on what message you would like to convey and to who.

If you are a business looking to enhance your brand presence or build awareness of the products and services you offer, there are certain types of promotional products that you should target. It is these products that will help distribute your message and build your reputation most effectively. If you choose carefully, promotional items will encourage the people who receive and use them to work with you over your competitors. When selecting promotional items, it is important to research which ones will work best for your business. It may be helpful to draw up a list of the most popular items that are available and from this, choose ones that would be a good fit for your business and clients.

What are promotional items?

Before we look in detail at the most popular promotional items, it’s important to first understand what exactly they are and what benefits they can bring to your business. A promotional product is something which has your message, business name, offer, slogan or logo displayed on it. The product may contain one of these or a combination, whether it’s a mouse mat, a paperweight or an item of stationery, the general purpose remains the same. If you look around your office now there’s no doubt that you will see lots of promotional items such as a coffee mug, calendar, pen or water bottle.

Promotional items should be useful. If they are, they will be used by the recipient long after your marketing campaign is over. Research carried out by BPMA highlighted that 63% of recipients would keep a USB memory stick the longest and a total of 97% of respondents who participated in the survey would like to receive promotional products more often.

Although they are one of the most overlooked marketing strategies, these statistics alone emphasise the importance of incorporating promotional items into your marketing strategy. Customers who receive promotional products from your business are more likely to be loyal to your company, make repeat purchases and be more willing to provide recommendations and referrals to your business. Furthermore, the impact of direct marketing can be much more effective if you combine it with a promotional product that is interactive.

Benefits of promotional products

We have briefly explored what promotional products are and how they can be used, but what are the specific benefits that they can bring to your business? Any type of promotional item is usually affordable but something that piques the interest of people receiving it so that they become interested in and interact with your business. The types of products that you distribute will depend very much on your business and your target market. Business to business clients would benefit from stationery items such as pens, mugs and USB sticks while a B2C client may benefit more from something practical like a keyring, calendar or fridge magnet,

The ultimate goal of any promotional item that you distribute should be to create a positive impact with current and prospective clients. Your efforts should generate enough interest for the individual or business to be interested in what you do and what you have to offer. The distribution of promotional items should really appeal to people and it should be something that the recipients will like, use and appreciate. But what other benefits can arise from the use of promotional products?

#1 Brand Loyalty

A promotional product will give your business an incredible opportunity to build loyalty with your brand. They are excellent icebreakers because they allow you to build a rapport with your prospect first and build a friendship rather than the prospect seeing you as a corporate entity trying to sell them something.  Establishing trust and building a rapport is one of the best ways that you can achieve the results you need. Prospects will be more inclined to remember a positive experience with your business and receiving a valuable promotional product that makes their life easier or they use a lot will help to achieve this. A power bank or charger for example, are always great items to send out. In addition, if a prospect or current customer receives a high value, high-quality item and they are happy with your products as well as the products or services that you provide, they are more likely to stay with you for the long term.  A product that fits in well with your audience and proves to be useful and memorable will be great for your business.

#2 Building Relationships

Establishing effective relationships with your customers is crucial for any business.  When you distribute promotional products, people love receiving them, particularly items which are thoughtful and creative. One of the main ways to retain customers is to keep them happy. When customers are happy with what you provide, they are less likely to look elsewhere. Decisions about promotional items should aim to build relationships and create a lasting impression. You can do this by making your customer feel valued. Make your promotional items personal by adding the recipient’s name for example. Another great way to build relationships is through giveaways bringing in your following on social media. Promote a giveaway that creates a buzz around your business. This will increase engagement with your brand and encourage existing followers to share your content which will not only distributes your message further but allows you to grow your network.

#3 Increase Interest

When you distribute branded merchandise customers will start to develop an interest in your brand, your values and the products or services that you offer.  A unique and interesting way to increase interest in your business is to use things such as digital rewards like gift cards or vouchers. In doing so you can collect contact details and the lead will receive a reward whether it’s a voucher, coupon or digital magazine or even a branded promotional product. You can also increase interest by offering incentives for referrals. With existing customers, you can send them a free branded product as an incentive for providing a recommendation. If you do receive a genuine referral that converts into a customer, consider sending them a promotional product as a thank you gift.

#5 Customer Retention

Customer retention should be the focus of every business owner because it is much more cost effective to retain an existing customer than it is to find new ones. Investing in your brand is therefore important and you can achieve this by delivering usable, personalised products that maintain interest in your business. Focusing on existing customers can significantly boost your Return on Investment.

#6 Increased Sales

A promotional product makes a lasting impression on potential customers and they can be used to generate new sales and leads. When a promotional product is combined with a call to action asking the recipient to visit a website or call a business, it often generates a higher success rate than other forms of advertising.

Most Popular Promotional Products

Promotional items can serve many different purposes and they shouldn’t be confined to trade shows or events. They can be distributed as part of a wider marketing strategy, used as an incentive or as a thank you to existing clients.

Top Promotional Items

Promotional products are used around the world to promote a brand, event, company or corporate identity.

In research conducted by BPMA, they asked respondents to choose which promotional products were most likely to encourage them to take action or improve the overall impression they had of a particular business. The top five promotional products include:

  • Hampers
  • USB Stick
  • Clock or a Watch
  • Luggage
  • Umbrella

Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail.


Promotional hampers can be one of the best ways to meet the needs of several people because you can send a combination of products that you know the recipient will like. You can base your decision on what you know is popular in your industry or if you know the recipient well, what they actually like. There are lots of different kinds of promotional printed hampers that you can choose from including picnic hampers, wine and crackers, spa hampers and more. You simply provide the hamper provider with your logo and company name which will then be embroidered, engraved or attached to the products. Hampers are always well received and they will make a great impression on the recipient.

Tech and Gadgets

Traditional promotional products are making way for fresher, more creative ideas as technology features more prominently in today’s workplace. Clients will appreciate useful items such as custom power banks or memory sticks. You can even take this a step further and send a USB memory stick as a bracelet which is ideal for people who are on the go throughout the day.

Branded Clothing

Businesses frequently hand out promotional products to increase brand awareness and generate interest in their company and clothing is one of the best ways that you can achieve this. Logos and branding are an excellent form of advertising when they are used by your customers. Jackets, t-shirts and baseball caps are all great examples of branded clothing. If you decide to opt for this promotional item, keep in mind the people who will be wearing them. Will the item of clothing be suitable for your audience i.e. would they wear it? Branded t-shirts for example would work well for a fitness business. With clothing, it is important to keep in mind your target market and what type of clothing they generally wear.


As we have mentioned previously, promotional items should be useful. If your business serves B2B clients, then stationery would be a great choice but don’t overlook the quality of the stationery items that you send out. Pens, for example, shouldn’t just be an ordinary pen, they should be something a little more robust and valuable to the recipient. Would you be happy to receive the same product from a business you worked with? It’s not going to leave a very good impression if you distribute poor quality products, no matter good your promotional messages are. Even though you haven’t manufactured them it will be a reflection of your brand so keep this in mind when choosing your supplier. Other types of stationery that prove popular include post-it pads and mouse mats. All of these items are reusable and extremely shareable. A post it note handed to a business associate could help to expand your reach as they take the note back to the office, share it with colleagues or discuss the note with business contacts.

Mugs and Water Bottles

You can easily increase brand awareness using travel mugs or water bottles as an effective promotional item. These products provide quite a large area for you to brand and they are incredibly practical too. That being said, you want to make sure that the quality of the item is there. You don’t want a water bottle that leaks, or a travel mug that spills. As these products are designed to be used on the move, they will gain more exposure for your business.


Although notepads are great, you should think about some form of branding on each page rather than just on the front and/or back cover. Customers often leave their notebooks open and when they use it your branding won’t be visible. Print a logo, your slogan or a footer on each of the pages in the notebook for maximum exposure.

Business Card Holders

A great promotional product that will always be used in networking events is a business card holder. When distributing the holders, make sure that they are of a high quality, manufactured from the best materials so your clients want to use and display them. Business card holders that are made from plastic or faux leather are ideal and they are affordable. Wooden card holders or metal ones also work well but they will need to include your branding on it somewhere.

Creative Products

Use your creativity to provide products that offer clients real solutions to their problems. Today’s workers want things that keep their workstation minimalistic and clear from unnecessary items. When thinking of a product make sure it isn’t going to clutter up their desk or be something that they are always moving around because they don’t know what to do with it. Choose products that are really practical that will help rather than hinder the recipient. Charging cables, miniature tins of confectionery or something along those lines would work well.

Health and Wellbeing

One of the growing trends is the health and wellness space so why not take advantage of this interest by providing some relevant promotional products. There are lots of opportunities in this area including gym bags, branded water bottles, sugar-free mints or something motivational.

There are literally hundreds of promotional products that you can work with, but these are just a few to give you some inspiration. The more unique, interesting and creative your product is the more it will get noticed, but of course it still must be useful in some way. Practicality always wins.

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