Promotional Products: the Most Durable Marketing Money Can Buy

When we talk about marketing these days, it’s all about the digital. Is your social media game on point? Is your website on fleek? Is your mobile advertising on fire? On and on and on it goes, and with good reason. It’s estimated that 81% of all consumers look to the web before making a purchase, alongside 94% of B2B customers. Of course you have to have your digital strategy firing on all cylinders.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you should forgo all other forms of marketing. Even if 99.9% of your business is happening online, 100% of your customers live offline, and meeting them where they’re at can help keep your brand at the forefront of their minds when it’s time for them to click into a purchase.

But where should you direct your time and money? That’s the million dollar question, and the answers often vary depending on the size, scope, and trajectory of your company, not to mention the makeup of your audience. There is, however, one offline option that’s pretty much a good idea for companies of all sorts: swag.




We’re talking, of course, about promotional products. Think t-shirts, stress balls, water battles, pens, etc. with your logo on it. This is not a new form of marketing by any stretch of the imagination. Your grandfather was toting home swag from conferences to give to your parents as a gift when they were kids. But there’s a reason it’s endured as a marketing tactic in this digital world.

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It works. Promotional products wouldn’t be a $20 billion industry if it didn’t.

Swag is effective for a few reasons. For starters, customers past, present, and future love it because it’s largely free. Sometimes it will be linked with certain behaviors in order to generate leads for a company, but for the most part, it comes with no strings attached. It’s not an ask; it’s a give. People tend to like gifts and the people who give them, and that can translate into very real dollar signs.

In fact, a study done by L.J. Market Research found that 52% of participants given a promotional product ultimately did business with the company that gave it to them, while the remaining 48% said they would be more likely to do business with the company in the future as a result of the gift. What other marketing tactics can boast conversions like that?

More than that, branded gear leaves a greater, longer lasting impression than other marketing mediums might. Research from Promotional Products Association International found that 88% of consumers could recall brands that had provided them with a promotional product in the last 12 months, but only 71% could recall advertisers in a newspaper or magazine they’d read a week ago. 

The selection of a 12 month time frame in that study is telling, and highlights another big benefit to using swag in your marketing strategy: lifespan. The banner ad you spent money on might get a two second glance from a website visitor. The video spot you bought to roll ahead of YouTube videos is done for as soon as the visitor can click through. That postcard mailer you paid for is now lining a recycling bin. But that t-shirt you gave out at a conference last year? Consumer Joe is wearing it once a week to the gym, reminding himself of how great your company is and letting anyone who sees him know it, too. Talk about getting your money’s worth.

But before you go to some mass production t-shirt website and slap your existing logo onto a template, think for a minute. You wouldn’t necessarily just throw your logo onto a billboard hanging over the highway, right? So why do that with your swag? Invest in solid design for your promotional products and odds are you’ll find the initiative more effective, with better brand associations and more consistent use of the product, amplifying the reach of the initiative.

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