Anna Paczkowska Contributor of this blog
Gary Chan, contributor of this blog
January 30, 2020 • 8 min read

Promotional products can support many of your brand’s marketing objectives. They can grow your business through customer retention, lead generation, keep your employees happy and build brand awareness for your organization. But how do you buy promotional products to get the best results? A quick search will lead you to a lot of online purchasing websites, where you can get lost in thousands of options in each product category and… quickly burn through your marketing budget… There is a better way. How To Buy Promotional Products And Get Results

In this blog, we will discuss how to buy promotional products and get results. Choosing the suitable promotional products company to PARTNER WITH is the first step. Second, we’ll give you tips to make sure you spend your time and marketing dollars wisely. You will be able to download a CHECKLIST to use as your go-to marketing tool, whenever you are starting a new promotional campaign for your brand.

Finding The Right Promotional Products Supplier

Buying promotional products may seem like a straightforward online purchase but if you treat it as such, you may be setting your promotion up for failure. Online outlets try to make purchasing exciting and easy but is there someone to guide you through the process of WHY you are buying the products you are so easily adding to your cart?

Only a promotional marketing consultant will be able to answer questions — even those you might not think of or didn’t know you needed to ask. He or she will know unknown risks, like product quality and recalls. They will guide you through the most effective products for your marketing objectives so that they have the largest reach and recall with your target audience. And they will be there every step of the way to make sure your promotion is a success long after you make the purchase.

So how do you find the right promotional products distributor to deal with?  Check out the websites of all potential distributors and see what their company is about. How To Buy Promotional Products And Get Results

PRO TIP: Stay clear from companies whose websites are discount- and special-heavy. Most likely they have selected suppliers that offer them deals and they will try to push those products first, regardless of your campaign’s objectives.

Instead, contact companies that emphasize team expertise, culture and show case studies of past projects. In today’s economy no company can afford wasting marketing dollars on suppliers that are not EXPERTS in what they do.

creative team picture and boutique view

Clarify Your Marketing Objectives

Part of the magic of a successful marketing campaign is making sure that the promotional products used in it are specifically tailored to its objectives. The reasons WHY you need promotional products will greatly affect WHAT promotional products you should purchase. This is the first step that is easily bypassed by inexperienced purchasers or business owners who search online and base their decisions on price.

Below we’ve outlined just some of the common campaign objectives and potential ideas that might be suitable for them.

Lead Generation – some of the best products in this category would be things that are USEFUL to the recipient. This ensures your brand will stay top of mind every time he or she reaches for the item.

Employee Retention – choose SWAG that makes the employees feel appreciated and valued from the moment they are hired with onboarding welcome kits, throughout their career span with event apparel and holiday gifts to milestone awards and retirement gifts.

Events & Tradeshows – similar to lead generation ideas, give away SWAG that will be useful long after the show’s over and products that connect back to your brand. Plan ahead and possibly use promotional products along with the invitation to encourage attendance and don’t forget post-show gifts. Sending a small gift from the show to clients who could not attend will show them you’ve not forgotten about them and will let them know you value their business. How To Buy Promotional Products And Get Results

Brand Awareness – products that offer full-color capabilities to really make your branding stand out are very popular with this type of promotion. Any product that can have a social media aspect attached to it will also create more engagement for your brand. Another favorite would be a completely custom product or industry-specific product, for example, a tire drink koozie for Fountain Tire.

Customer retention – customers love free gifts! If you’re in a professional services business, reward your clients for visiting you, for engaging with your brand on social media, or for coming to your event. In retail, SWAG really works as a way to maximize sales especially when customers are aware that they will get something extra if they spend more. Promote your purchase incentives via email marketing and social media to engage your existing customers to reorder or prospects to try your product for the first time.

What Is Your Budget Limit?

This one is the most obvious, and perhaps also the most convoluted. It can be as complex as a predetermination of allocating company budget. Let your promotional expert know if your budget is an absolute number or if there is room in it for situations when a better product with more perceived value is available for a slightly higher price.  A budget can also be as simple as “here is how much we have left, so let see what we can get out of it”. Regardless of how a project budget is defined, that specific dollar value is an important factor when it comes to product selection.

It can be structured in the form of a lump-sum total or based on a per-person value.

Know Your Audience

Start by thinking about who are the people in your target audience and approximately how many of them are there. The categories to help you narrow it down are: age group, gender, occupation, profession, values, interest, preferences and lifestyle. Once the target is set, your promotional experts can assist with the product selection process. They will shortlist several promotional ideas that will best fit your target audience. Then, simply pick the one (or a few) that work for the project.

Manager segmenting target audience for a promotional products project

Artwork And Logo Files For Promotional Products

If you have been in the marketing field for a while, you probably heard this question before: “Do you have your logo in vector?” If you are new in your field, you are now probably scratching your head… Vector format is a standard digital file format needed to reproduce your logo in high quality. Most common file types in this format are AI and EPS files. Those are the files that any art department would need. There are instances that those files might not work, but in 95% of cases you’ve got what graphic designers need 🙂

Another file type that possibly could possibly contain vector artwork is a PDF file. A graphic artist will be able to determine if your PDF file contains usable artwork.

PRO TIP: If your company has a brand standards or a logo guidelines document, it would be VERY helpful to send it off to your promotional products supplier along with your logo files. This will help ensure that your brand image will always stay consistent.

We will discuss artwork, product decoration and brand consistency in greater detail in our upcoming posts so stay tuned.

Can’t find any artwork files or need to create custom artwork for your campaign? Your promotional products supplier should have a creative services department to assist you with this step. Another good reason to deal with actual humans you can talk to vs. online sellers!

vector artwork compared to other files

Determine Your Project’s Deadline

There are certain things that money can’t buy, and in the case of ordering promotional products, that factor is TIME. Providing the absolute in-hands date can help with the selection, budgeting, graphic creation, and the logistical phase of a project. The in-hands date also becomes one of the benchmarks for the promotional experts during idea generation. They can ensure to involve specific suppliers who can complete your project on time.

PRO TIP: In most cases, a standard promotional project can be completed and delivered with a 3-week (or 15 business days) schedule domestically. Whereas overseas production timeframe can be in the range of 8-12 weeks.

No two promotional campaigns are alike. Be sure to ask your promotional expert to see what is possible.

Successful Promotional Campaigns Don’t Happen By Chance

In a world where consumers are bombarded by advertising messages, promotional products stand alone. A print ad, an internet pop-up, a television ad or a radio spot all interrupt and distract consumers. But a promotional product engages and is welcomed by the consumer and then integrated into their lifestyle. In fact, it’s the only marketing medium that the consumer says thank you for and the only one with 100% readership of its advertising message!

To realize goals, promotional programs must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the audience, budget and, of course, the ultimate result to be gained. While it’s true that you can buy a product anywhere, an experienced promotional consultant can help you solve problems, plan programs and GET RESULTS.

Promotional Marketing Project Checklist

Download our Promotional Marketing Project Checklist and use it as your go-to marketing tool to get your next promotional campaign off to a great start!

Ready to move forward with a promotional product that WORKS and one that your customers will thank you for?

Contact us here and we’ll match you with the RIGHT expert for your brand!

780.988.0015 //

Contributor Bio photo - Anna Paczkowska

ANNA PACZKOWSKA  |  A creative soul with a passion and expertise in design, marketing and e-commerce. Anna is a Creative Director at CREATIVE Promotional Marketing Agency and is involved in client projects daily. Got a logo or artwork-related question? Email Anna anytime at

Contributor Bio photo - Gary Chan

GARY CHAN  |  Gary is a Project Manager and Social Media Specialist at CREATIVE Promotional Marketing Agency. With a B.Com Marketing Degree and Strategic Social Media Citation from the University of Alberta, his focus is mainly on promotional operation efficiency and social media communication. He is also a certified Master Advertising Specialist (MAS), so if you have any questions about promotional marketing, be sure to email Gary at