How to Choose Promotional Items and Gifts

It’s the time of year where companies are planning gift giving and business building activities for the holidays. This presents a good opportunity to look at the who, what, when, and why of buying promotional items and gifts for your company. The first and most obvious question is, how do you buy promotional items? And how well does your current method work?

For example, do you select the item first, and build a campaign around it, or do you look at other factors and add the item later? Are you working on targeted promotional campaigns, or are you placing your logo on randomly selected items and randomly handing them out?

Are you a planner or more of a last minute shopper? Do you use the same buying approach all the time, or do you use a situational approach? There are suggested methods and most would agree that you need some sort of plan; however, there is no absolute right or wrong answer to any of these questions.

While a lot depends on your company, your industry and your customers, the big question is, does your current method work?

If you feel that your purchases are missing the mark, try looking into the following areas for insight into possible causes.

  • What triggers or motivators are setting things into motion?

What is motivating you to make a purchase? Are you buying because of something specific to your industry, locale or organization? Many purchases are made based events that occur during a special time of year like an anniversary or a specific recognition or holidays.

Others buy because of a situation, to solve a problem like slow sales, low morale, or to improve safety programs. Still others buy to celebrate accomplishments of personal and professional milestones. Is your purchase for a one time or ongoing event? Are you building or improving something that currently exists or buying for something new like a product or a grand opening?


Maybe you buy for a combination of reasons.  If so, different items will address different needs.  Knowing your organization’s purchasing triggers and motivators can place you in a proactive position that allows for planning and taking advantage of opportunities for savings.  Planning helps you better align the items purchased with the overall theme and intention of the event.  A “one size fits all” approach may not work if you are buying to suit many purposes. Finally, if “panic” is always your trigger, you might want to look at some other options.

  • What do you want to accomplish?

This probably sounds like something you’ve heard before, but if you don’t have goals or objectives, now is the time to create some. If you’re not used to setting goals, start with writing down one goal and outline small steps to reach your target.

Another good idea is to create milestones along the way and celebrate their completion as you go along the path to your final goal.  You need to know if you’re on the right track or making progress. Once you accomplish the first goal, proceed to jump in deeper.  The goal here is to be as concrete and tangible as possible. You can’t improve or manage what you can’t measure.

You’ve probably heard of setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) goals. If not, use our link or search online for “SMART goals” for more information. This technique is great for business and personal goal setting.

  • Who is your audience?

Who are you trying to reach? What are they looking for? What action would you like for them to take after receiving your promotion? All the glitter, gold, bells, whistles and blinking lights in the world will not make a difference if you miss the mark with your audience.

For example, giving out the coolest electronic device of the year won’t be effective if the recipients don’t use it.

Keep in mind that something that would make your head turn may do nothing for your customers. Make sure your promotional items are useful and meaningful to your audience in some way.

  • What is your budget?

Are you allocating enough money to reach the goals you’ve set? How much can you spend per item? Are you falling short on funds and having to settle for something you wouldn’t normally buy? If you’re on a tight budget, are there opportunities to partner with other departments, organizations or individuals for co-sponsorship?

The largest quantities usually yield the biggest savings per item. If you need smaller quantities there are many opportunities available for lower minimum quantities and lower pricing.  Another option is to take advantage of pricing options (like EQP and NQP) that allow for huge savings opportunities as well.

If you’re not sure what those terms mean, click on the link to read our article, “Take Advantage of Quantity Discounts and EQP…” for a detailed explanation of how these pricing options work.

Remember our SMART goals? Setting goals that are timely and planning for timely execution is important. Timing is everything.  For example, if you’re purchasing an item to recognize a person or group for outstanding achievement, make the recognition and/or gift as close to the date of the achievement as possible. Strike while the iron is hot to be most effective.

Plan enough time for creating your imprint message and artwork, printing or engraving, and delivery. Plan to receive your custom printed items at least seven working days in advance of an event, so that if there are issues, you can resort to Plan B… and always have a Plan B.

Create a distribution plan to assure that your items reach their intended audience on time as well. Huge amounts of money will be spent on entertaining, gifting, wining and dining this holiday season.  Make sure you’re not missing out on opportunities to make the best decisions when planning purchases this year.

Jump start the planning for your next company milestone or event, and take advantage of our years of experience! Contact us for ideas that will help you meet your goals and obtain successful outcomes. Remember you have a partner in the promotional products industry.  Check our site regularly for promotional items this season and all year long.  We’re constantly adding new and innovative items to our site.  If you have a question about something not online, please call us at 1-888-838-6563.


Some Tips for Holiday Card Success

Modern Ribbon Tree Greeting CardCan you believe it’s that time of year again? Time to look at your mailing lists to determine who will receive holiday cards.  Whether you have a huge or small list, here are some tips that will give your cards more meaning… 

1.      Order custom printed cards early and save! This isn’t going to make the card anymore meaningful, but it does help relieve some of the holiday stress. Every card company is different on deadline dates, but if you order early, you save and beat the holiday rush.  If you’re buying off the shelf, you get the best selection by making your purchases early.   

2.      Choose a card design and message that fits with your organization’s audience and style.  For example, if your company targets a trendy, twenty something audience, don’t choose a card that has a nostalgic theme.  Vintage is in, but unless it’s in a context that your younger audience will appreciate, avoid it.  Make your holiday cards support your overall message for consistency. 

3.      Make it warm and friendly.  Where appropriate use the person’s first name on a brief note of thanks or appreciation, reference to a fun time that you shared during the year etc. Include a spouse’s name if applicable.  A good rule of thumb regarding first names: If you have to think about whether it’s appropriate to use a first name, it’s probably better to keep it formal.  If you’re still in doubt consult a book or reputable online source on business etiquette for the rules on the use of first names.  Make sure to keep cultural traditions in mind if your audience is global. 

4.      Use handwritten addresses and signatures. This is a prime time to connect with those that contribute to your success.  Don’t miss an opportunity by using your office printer to mass produce white, sterile labels, having your card maker print your name on your cards or even worse, by pulling out the old rubber signature stamp.  If at all possible, take a few extra moments to sign your cards.   

§         If you buy custom printed cards with your name already printed, you can sign above the typed signature. Make sure to have your custom printer leave room for a signature when ordering.  

§         If you have a large list, consider splitting the cards between team members and have a card signing party!  

§         If you have a super large list, consider having your printer use a signature font to print your name. Make it “look” handwritten as a last resort.  Many printers will take your written signature and make a realistic looking imprint for a charge.  This is usually considered a “custom verse” and costs a little extra.

5.      Keep it professional, please. The goal is to maintain and re-establish relationships as well as build new ones. You’ll see colleagues and prospects away from the office a lot more during the holidays. Don’t lose focus while attending social networking functions and parties. Keep gifts and holiday cards tasteful and professional. Cards that reference body parts or bodily functions are probably not appropriate for building business. Again, keep your audience and business goals in mind. 

6.      Spend a little on extras. Foil lined envelopes and tasteful seals for example cost a little more, but they add to your card (don’t overdo the extras) and make them stand out from the crowd. Your cards and correspondence are a representation of your company. Choose the cheapest cards on the thinnest, cheapest paper, with a questionable message and you may lose clients, not gain them.

Remember, the goal is to convey a message that shows holiday spirit, warm wishes and appreciation for your employees, clients and others who have made this a wonderful year. Your card, like every other piece of collateral you send, is a reflection of your company. Visit us for your custom apparel and gifts this holiday season. 

Give Women the “Tools” To Promote Awareness and Survival

Need a fundraising item, or an idea for upcoming breast cancer awareness activities? Remind women (and those that support them) that they have the tools to fight breast cancer with this nifty little tool bag! Place your message on our Ladies Precision Tool Kit that comes complete with a tape measure, hammer, all-purpose screwdriver and pliers. Everything comes tucked inside a neat, trendy little bag designed in pink, oat and brown, just for her! 

Gain high visibility for your message with an imprint area on the front measuring 7″ wide x 11/2” high; and on the back measuring 6″ wide x 2″ high.  The bag comes with a one location, one color screen imprint for free.  Knowledge and support are the keys to survival; education and awareness contribute greatly to early detection and prevention.

The tool kit comes packed with goodies that serve a dual purpose. When used to support breast cancer awareness activities, it can symbolize the tools of support, regular screenings, self exams, health education and awareness, leading to early detection. It also provides a great starter tool kit for those who are buying or improving homes, moving or working on building projects.  It’s a wonderful addition to house warming and welcome packages for realtors.

Giving a tool kit is one of many ways to promote client and customer relationships that’s practical and affordable. Who doesn’t need tools? During the month of October, put your company name on an item and provide a reminder or a message of hope for women during the normal course of your business. Volunteer or sponsor activities in your community and donate goods, like information brochures, t-shirts, gift bags, water bottles, etc.  Donate a tool bag or other item to various fundraising activities, they make great raffle prizes. Give clients, employees and customers information that will help them lead a healthy lifestyle.   

Women should be aware of a variety of breast cancer related topics including risk factors, warning signs, the different kinds of breast cancer, tips for a healthy lifestyle, types of exams and treatment options.  Being health conscious is easy with access to information; taking action to preserve one’s health is even easier with trendy, fun-filled, practical reminders. 

For breast cancer information and so much more, visit for valuable knowledge, ideas, free information on mammography centers and current breast cancer awareness events in your area.  

The tool kit is a great for gift for fundraising, employee giveaways, real estate closings, home improvements, retail gifts, and more.  T-shirts, health information, bags, and other gift items are a great addition to any promotion.  Visit us  for more information and let us support your next meeting, event or marketing promotion with thoughtfully selected items.