Even in the age of the Internet, email marketing, and social media, giving away promotional items (swag) like pens, golf balls and cups printed with your name and logo continues to be one of the most powerful, yet least-understood, tools to help build awareness of your brand.

A few years ago, I was at a high-priced charity golf tournament at one of the most exclusive country clubs in Scottsdale, Ariz. Every participant was given a sleeve of balls imprinted with the tournament sponsor’s logo. It was a nice gesture, except the brand was one of the cheapest and lowest-quality balls on the market. When participants saw the sleeves and noticed the low-quality balls sitting on their golf-cart seats, wry smiles came over their faces. Soon, they began making jokes about now having golf balls to use on water holes. The sponsor’s perception among tournament participants took a negative hit.

According to Dan Vance, owner of Surf and Ski, a Mesa-based company that specializes in solving unique and challenging logoed promotional needs, the biggest mistake people make when purchasing logoed items is not thinking about the perceived value of the item being given away. Making the wrong choice can have negative consequences like it did for the sponsor of the golf tournament.

Make Sure Promotional Items Meet Your Marketing Needs:
Here are a few tips that will help.

  • Make sure the value of the item is comparable to the cost of the event. If you give away logoed merchandise at an event that costs people $500 to attend, don’t pass out pens worth a half-cent apiece. At the same time, if you are at a free event, with thousands of people attending for free, don’t give away $3 cups.
  • Select items that tell your story. If you own a company that repairs or fixes items, select an item that does the same thing, for example, screwdrivers; if you are a plumber, water bottles; medical practice, Band-Aid holders. The item should do more than just show your logo. It should also remind those who use the gift of the product or service you provide.
  • Stay consistent with your brand image. If your company’s brand colors are red and blue, use red-and-blue-colored swag, not purple. Also, use the same font on your promotional item as on your other marketing materials. If you can’t use the exact one, find one that is a close as possible.
  • Don’t forget about the classics. Everyone is looking for the latest, most up-to-date things to give away. However, there is a reason pens are so popular. Another classic is logoed rubber sheets used to open tight lids. When I was a kid, we always had one in our kitchen drawer. We kept it for years. Every time we used it, we saw the logo of the local plumber.
  • Stay away from disposables. The goal is to keep your logo in front of as many people as possible for as long as possible. If you give custom-labeled water bottles, candy or tea-bags, the item is used once and then thrown away.

Surf and Ski is a client of The Gotfried Group. Dan came to us for help when he decided to move his shop across town after being in the same location for almost 50 years. We were able to help him come up with a strategy to make sure all of his current customers were aware of the move. We also developed ways for Surf and Ski to look, speak and act that makes the company stand out from its competition and position it as the “go-to” place to meet all of your logoed apparel and promotional item needs.

If you or a company you know needs help communicating to customers and/or other stakeholders about a major change, please let me know. I am more than happy to spend a few minutes on the phone discussing the situation to see if The Gotfried Group could be of service. My email is steven@GotfriedGroup.com.