Choosing promo items is difficult. You might think that it should be relatively straightforward; just get some pens, mints, and maybe stadium cups. But by taking that approach, you severely limit yourself by ignoring all of the amazing product ideas that are out there.

Instead, take the time to really look at the variety of promotional items that are at your fingertips, then choose the ones that are just right for your business. If you do this, the promo product picking process becomes harder but more rewarding, as you are able to give people a lasting and accurate impression of your brand.

There are a few major questions that you should be asking yourself when you start this process. First off- how much is your per item budget? Fortunately this is easy to determine- take the amount you are willing to spend and divide it by your expected audience size.

For example, if you are going to buy $1000 in items and expect to reach 1000 people, you should be budgeting $1 per item. It’s important to know audience size and ppe (price per each) early on because prices are usually variable based on quantity, and the quantities that you are allowed to buy are variable between products.

The next question is that of utility. What items can you hand out that are both indicative of your industry and useful to your clients or prospects? If you want the best use of your promo dollars, buy your customers and prospects something that they’ll use with regularity. The worst thing you could do is to get something expensive that no one wants, and it’s almost as bad if they get something that’s just good enough to be thrown in the back of a desk drawer and forgotten.

The best possible option is to get the customer something that they will use every day. A few generic options for this are good quality gel ink pens or coffee mugs. Bonus points if you give out something that is both very useful and extremely industry relevant. A tire company, for instance, could hand out tire pressure gauges to first time customers. Not only is it useful and will remain in the vehicle, it will likely get used by the customer around the time they’ll need to think about fixing a tire problem.

Alternatively, instead of going for industry relevance, give them something so weird and off the wall that they are compelled to tell everyone else about it, like what Tampa Bay did with the Don Zimmer Teddy Bear.

Finally, here’s a few tips of things to avoid that are bad practices. The first is this- if you’re going to buy gift sets for customers around the holidays or for their birthday, do not just buy the gift set. Take time to add some personal touches to the set you’re giving. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme; even something as simple as a card will do.

This tells your customer/prospect that you genuinely care about them and took the time to get something for them. It’s hard to get excited about  a generic corporate gift with zero personalization.

Second, pay attention to the packaging. Some promo sets have way too much wrapping and not nearly enough items in them. No one wants to get a promo item that’s 5% gift and 95% wrapper, especially in today’s climate of environmental concern about plastic. Lastly, make sure that you have variety in what you send to customers over the course of a year. Keeping things fresh will make your clients and prospects excited and greatly benefits top of mind awareness.

Hope this helps you start down the road to picking the products that are the best for your business! If you have any comments or questions about this article send an email to and I’ll be sure to respond.