Promo Product Mistakes

  • Jan 14, 2022

Avoid these Common Promo Product Mistakes!

We’re approached on a daily basis with companies asking us what they should use as a promotional product. That’s a good start. Too many companies plough ahead with promotional products that are not going to achieve the goals they set out to achieve. This is a real shame, because their failure could easily have been avoided. Not to mention all that money that could have been saved also...


1) Promotional Products Mistake #1: Not setting a goal

With any spending activity by your business, the first thing that needs to be ascertained is “what exactly are we trying to achieve here?”. Too many businesses come up with the idea for certain products (people write things down, let’s do pens!) without really considering what they are trying to achieve.  When setting goals or objectives it really comes down to whether the campaign you are planning can achieve something that is measurable or not.


Measurable objectives

Often promotional products are used as an incentive for greater purchases. They can also be used as an added value bonus when selling something. For these types of activities, it is easy to measure the success of the spend. Simply look at a comparable sales period before the use of promotional products and compare that to the period where promotional products were used. Did sales increase? Did they increase enough to justify the use of promotional products?



In most cases what you want to achieve won’t be a specific objective. It is very hard to collect tangible results with the dissemination of promotional products, but most campaigns will have a goal. This will normally boil down to trying to enhance brand awareness, or trying to associate the brand with a particular feeling, or closely with a particular market.

Whatever you are trying to achieve, write it down, discuss it and THINK about it. This will assist your decision making in terms of the next few decisions you need to make. But always come back to this goal or objective.


2) Promotional Products Mistake #2: Not understanding your target market

The next big mistake is forgetting about your target market. This might seem odd, but it happens. Businesses can get so caught up in trying to be cool and sexy that they forget most of their prospective customers are actually 58 year old middle managers / couch potatoes (depending on the industry of course!).


Thinking about how and why your branded promotional products might be used by customers is crucial. Producing something that is immediately thrown away or stored away for the foreseeable future is pointless, especially if the goal is to increase brand awareness.  Choosing popular, frequently used products is important. But they must also be popular and frequently used by your target market. Custom water bottles are increasingly popular, but may not be relevant to all target markets.


As with any marketing activity, put yourself in the position of the customer, or prospective customer. Ask yourself; will receiving this branded product be appreciated and will it enhance their opinion of your brand? If the answer is yes, then you’re on to a winner. Ignoring these questions will not end well.


3) Promotional Products Mistake #3: Going cheap and (not so) cheerful

It is important to maximize your budget and to make your investment in promotional products go as far as you possibly can. But cutting costs is often not compatible with maintaining good quality.  Saving money is great, but remember; your brand is represented by the product you have purchased. If it is of inferior quality, poorly made or poorly printed, this is terrible for your brand.


4) Promotional Products Mistake #4: Not making the most of your artwork capabilities

Depending on the product you have chosen, find out what the limitations and capabilities are with the customization process. How much space can you take up, how many colours can you utilize, how complex can the artwork be?  These will all be determined by the product chosen and the method of customization – screen printing, offset printing, digital printing, heat transfer, embroidery etc – they all have their own unique limitations and capabilities.


Once you have a firm grasp of what is possible, take advantage of it! Often companies regret putting forward dull one colour artwork when really they could be pushing themselves and creating full colour, vibrant artwork that will promote their brand to much greater effect.


5) Promotional Products Mistake #5: Getting your colours wrong

There is a good chance that the colours of your logo or imagery are quite important to you. As such, you probably want the colour of your promotional products to match this very carefully, whether in production or print.  It is a common mistake to be very nonchalant with colours and simply ask for “red”, when actually what you want for your lanyards is Red PMS 032C. There can be a considerable difference in shades of a colour, and this can also vary depending on the type of product involved and the method of printing.  Take some time to discuss colours and to make sure that you are getting what you expect, and that it matches your existing branding as closely as possible.


Final word

Spending your hard earned revenue on promotional products is something that should be taken very seriously. Avoiding the mistakes above will ensure that your money is well spent, and that you’ll enjoy a suitable ROI.



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