There are a million ways to promote your brand: not all of them are created equal. For nonprofits and SMBs trying to stretch every dollar, the name of the game is ROI.

If this sounds like your organization, it helps to have a little research on your side so that you can invest in the most effective marketing methods available. And when it comes to tried-and-true tactics that are worthy of your precious spend, studies show one, in particular, is hard to beat.

Let’s talk about promo products – aka branded swag – and why studies say they’re a highly effective marketing tool.

Promotional items: the not-so-secret weapon for brand awareness.

Vistaprint and ASI are two organizations that have deep-dived into the effectiveness of branded swag. The gist? Putting your logo on a free gift and giving it to prospective clients or stakeholders can pay off in dividends.

Check out some of these key research findings:

  • In Vistaprint’s study of 2,000 consumers, 76% said their perception of a brand changed in a positive way after receiving a promo product. Forty-six percent said they “love” receiving promo products.
  • The same study by Vistaprint found 40% of consumers were more likely to write a positive review after receiving a promo item.
  • Among ASI survey respondents, promo gifts were the most highly regarded form of advertising, beating out television, internet and mobile devices.

In other words, free logoed gifts can help you establish an immediate connection with your audience. But they have other benefits, too.

Promo gifts make your brand noticeable and memorable.

In research conducted by PPAI, 9 out of 10 consumers agreed that promo products were a good way to learn about a new business in the area. And since recipients hold onto their items for months or years, promo products serve as a reminder of your brand for the long haul; whereas digital ads make dozens of strong impressions over their life cycle, the typical branded writing instrument can make 3,000.

The right promo gift can make an instant impression.

Custom swag can say a lot about your organization’s personality in a short amount of time.

  • It can relay your message to the world (think about putting your mission statement on a t-shirt and then seeing it in the wild at a rock concert).
  • It can showcase your professionalism and reputation (imagine the message you could send with a beautifully designed corporate gift box containing coffee, pens and other goodies).
  • It can convey your identity and “vibe” (e.g., we believe in sustainability; here’s a tote bag to prove it).

Popular promotional items for 2023. (Plus tips and tricks)

If research proves promo products are a great marketing tactic, what are some best practices for putting them to use?

Across the board, studies show consumer preferences trend toward products that are:

  • Useful
  • Unique
  • Quality

The key takeaway here? Gift unto others as you would have them gift unto you.

That said, there’s no need to break the bank. Check out these popular custom promo gifts – all of which are accessible to a wide range of budgets.

  • Pens
  • Water bottles
  • T-shirts
  • USB drives
  • Caps
  • Mugs
  • Zip-up fleece
  • Coffee, tea and treats.

More promo gifts


Bonus TipLightbulb with "bonus tips" written to side.s

  1. Sustainability is on-trend (think promo bags).

In Vistaprint’s study, over a third of consumers named sustainability as a factor in whether or not they appreciated a piece of branded swag. That could partly explain the popularity of tote bags, water bottles and branded apparel. Try incorporating sustainability into your next launch for awesome results.


Eco-friendly gifts


2. Company swag can boost morale.

Branded employee gifts are a great way to build office camaraderie and workplace engagement. Polos, t-shirts and water bottles are gifts anyone can appreciate – and there’s something about showing up on a Friday when 10 of your coworkers are wearing the company fleece. New hire gift boxes can also create a warm welcome for incoming staff.

3. Custom swag is a trade show giveaway must-have.

Thinking about exhibiting at your next trade show without a piece of branded swag? Not recommended if you want to keep your audience’s attention after the show ends! Think about it: you’ll be vying for “ad space” with dozens of other booths and organizations, and they’ll be handing out free stuff. Running on a tight budget? No problem – just stick with a quality version of a gift people will enjoy using, pens included!


Help us prepare for our next trade show


The takeaway?

Humans are visual, tactile creatures who love receiving presents. Is it any wonder marketing studies point to promo items as one of the most effective strategies, dollar-for-dollar? With even a small investment – and the services of a promotional products provider you can trust – you can really make a splash. So get out there and get gifting!


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