Finding the right promotional gifts and products for your event or company’s marketing promotion can be a challenging exercise. Do you give USB sticks to tradesmen and tool belts to bankers? Before you scream “No, don’t be silly” at the computer, the correct answer is: “It depends”. What does it depend on? Read on.

While shopping can be fun, especially when you are spending somebody else’s money, finding promotional products can be challenge. After all, you want to buy branded merchandise that is loved and valued by recipients. It also needs to send the right message about your company but you must do so while sticking to a budget. This article aims to help make the purchase decision a little easier.

The first important step is to understand your target market: Who is going to be receiving the promotional products? What do they do? What do they like? What do they use in their everyday life? The better you understand the target market, the better your promotional products will match their needs.

In the example above, most tradesmen don’t have a daily need for USB sticks while bankers won’t need tool belts. However, you must also consider when do you want them thinking about your brand and your products.  If the answer is “at work” then the answer is clearly no. But if you want them thinking about your company outside of work (when the tradies are using their computers and bankers are working around the house) then the answers is perhaps.

Next, consider what the brand image your company wishes to portray. Customers and potential customers will associate your brand with any gift that carries your brand. When you choosing merchandise, make sure you choose items that reflect your company’s position. A cheap and cheerful brand can give away cheap and cheerful promotional products but a high-end company should look at quality gifts. Remember, gifts will leave a lasting impression about your company.

Then you must consider the event and your goals. There’s a reason why are intending to provide the gifts. Are they to promote the company or are they meant as a thank you. Gifts also should be relevant to the event theme and appropriate across gender and age brackets of the attendees.

Once you understand all of these factors then it’s a matter of simply choosing the items from the hundreds of thousands of different options you could potentially choose from. Most good suppliers of promotional products have access to extensive array of different items.

The next step is to have a budget in place and there are two easy ways to work out a budget:

1. What the boss tells you.

2. Work out a price per person.

Next, communicate the budget to potential event suppliers. The event merchandising and promotional products business is highly competitive and you should not fear letting reputable potential suppliers know your budget. This is because they want to establish long-term relationships with clients and know you will shopping around.  

The next decision is the products themselves. For the most part there is a clear line between products that are exciting and those products that are practical. Fad items prove very popular at events and if it is your aim is to attract more people to your stall then they are a great idea. But after the event it’s the practical items that get used most and provide best value for money for marketers. For example, one of the 2016/17 fad items are power banks. These are devices that can charge mobiles and other electronic items. However, in practice, our research shows they don’t get used much by clients. Rather, they are tucked away in a draw.

Often it’s the most practical items that work best reinforcing a brand with customers and potential customers.  If the goal is to maintain your company brand in the minds of consumers, chooses pracital items that are used regularly. Some good examples are coffee mugs, personal planners and desk clocks.Surprisingly in this era of mobile phones, tablets and paperless offices, quality pens are still in great demand and they will be used by gift recipients for a long time after the event. As discussed above, cheaper is not best. However, you get good quality pens for a lot less than many of the fad items. Other practical items that are used again and again include bags, water bottles (most people have at least four or five at home), cups, coffee mugs, umbrellas, USB sticks, and clothing items such as polo shirts.

One of the best tests of whether you are choosing the right gift is whether you would like to own it. Ask your event supplier to send you samples. If you feel the product looks tacky and cheap, then it’s almost guaranteed your target market will feel the same way. If you would like to own it, it’s a good bet your clients will as well.

Then you must decide on branding. Not every promotional gift should be emblazoned with your corporate branding but most can accommodate it. A discreet logo can be appropriate on even the most personal of professional gifts.

Lastly, work with a professional when choose promotional gifts. You might run events for living but event merchandisers live and breathe by the products they sell. Better companies have account representatives who can guide you through your purchase decision and ensure your choice is a hit.