Promotional Products – Increase Small Business Visibility and Trust

Small business owners often face the difficult task of determining how to best spend their marketing budget. Social media campaigns? newspaper ads? billboards? A high level of brand awareness is important for any company, but when you work with a tight budget your strategy should give you the most bang for your buck. A great way of creating awareness at a low cost is to invest in promotional products, a.k.a. “swag”, “giveaways” or “promotional merchandise.”

Here are some benefits to consider when deciding if you should invest in promotional products for your brand:

Increased Brand Recognition

Did you know that it takes seven or more impressions of your brand for a consumer to gain trust in your business? People tend to remember brands that give them something for free. As a small business owner, you need to stand out from the competition, but also remain in the minds of customers, both current and potential. By adding your logo to gift items that customers can use on a regular basis, you are strengthening your brand’s recognition and image. 

Affordable with a Long Shelf Life

Promotional products are one of the most affordable marketing and advertising techniques. When you run an ad in a magazine or newspaper, your ad will only reach an audience for as long as you pay. But promotional gifts are seen by the person who owns the product as well as by anyone they come in contact with. Plus, well chosen swag is kept for significantly longer than other advertising tools.


(Infographic courtesy of

Tactile and Useful

Promotional products work because they’re useful. When you provide additional value, people are more likely to come back for more. Think about what items your customers will want to keep around. A bottle opener, pen, key chain, or drink koozie are things people use regularly, so gifting these items will reinforce the value of your company’s goods or services.

Create Variety and Buzz 

People like variety. When marketing is carried out the same way time and time again, it loses effectiveness. Marketing products can be changed easily according to the type of campaign and season. It is important to have staple marketing products, but the ability to vary what you are using to brand your business is very useful.



How can you make the most out of your Promotional Products?

As with any other marketing effort, you want to make sure your money is spent wisely. This means having a good strategy and knowing what type of products to buy and how to use them. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your promotional giveaways:

1. Set a Goal

Identify what you want to use them for and what you want to achieve. You might want to hand them out for free at an event, or provide incentives for taking some action, such as signing up for an email list, providing contact information, or purchasing X amount of product. Consider establishing a special piece of swag as a calling card. While business cards will always be a staple, promotional products are a fun, creative way to showcase your contact information. Instead of just leaving a potential customer with your card, leave behind your business card AND another tangible, branded product.

2. Make it useful 

Items people frequently need and use are always popular gift items. Valeria Aguerri, Marketing Director and Sales Manager for Orleans Embroidery says,

“The key is to find the right product for your audience, so your product is not a trinket, and instead is relevant and has value.  A few years ago, a local travel agency client purchased duffel bags to use as a giveaway for its clients.  The bags were so successful that they had customers driving from Covington to book their flight with them to get a bag!”…“People will use them hundreds of times and remember the product if it’s something meaningful and useful to them” 

Consider seasonally appropriate products, too. New Orleans is known for it’s festivals, music and outdoor living. Giving away items like sunglasses, fans, drink tumblers, blankets or picnic totes for these events is sure to make people remember you.

advocate fans promotional products

Full color fans and sunglasses for “The New Orleans Advocate” created for NOLA’s Wednesday at the Square concert series by Orleans Embroidery and their sister company Promo Ad

3. Make it visible

Of course you want your logo on your promotional product. T-Shirts are a great option to create “walking billboards.”  According to a study made by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), T-shirts are by far the most popular promotional product, with 44% of US consumers owning a promotional shirt.



When ordering our Get Online Nola promotional shirts, we made sure to pick a design that was fun and appealing to everyone, and as always we stayed local and sourced with Inkmule, a custom apparel and accessories company located in the heart of New Orleans. Logan Roberts, owner of Ink Mule, has the following advice: 

“One of the most important questions to consider when marketing with custom apparel is, ‘Will people actually want to wear this?’. If the answer is no, then your logo will be sitting in a closet or a thrift store rather than around town. Selecting a nice triblend or ringspun cotton tee over the Basic Heavyweight tee can go a long way towards making your shirt a staple instead of a throwaway.

Always order more shirts to take advantage of price breaks and maximize value. Price breaks often come at 48, 72, 96, 144 shirts and so on. You may have had a 65 piece order in mind, but if adding those extra 7 pieces saves you even .50 per shirt, they’ll probably pay for themselves.”

Tshirts - GON promotional products

Our awesome “NOLA” promotional t-shirts, printed by Inkmule, are used as door prizes at our WordPress Workshops. 

4. Make it Relevant

Products should be relevant to your business and to the situation where they’re given away. Take the following example from one of our customers:

Sleepless in Nola is a local sleep consulting program that helps families with children who have difficulty staying asleep through the night. Get Online NOLA designed sleep masks as promotional gifts to remind customers of their unique services.

promotional products sleep masks


Sleepless in Nola Masks supplied by Promo Ad

5. Use them as Thank You gifts during the Holidays

Nearly 50% of small business owners give holiday gifts to customers. The holidays are the perfect time to amp up your branding with items you might not have considered in other campaigns. But you should consider the following guidelines:

  • Think of something they’ll want

Don’t choose your promo product based on the latest trend, or on rock-bottom price. Match the items to what your customers would use and appreciate most. For example, hot drinks are a staple during the winter months, so a mug with your logo and some hot cocoa mix would make a great gift.  Remember to keep your branding discrete, so it’s an expression of appreciation, and not just a promo.

gon mug promotional products

Yes, we love our coffee mugs made by Promo Ad, and recommend drinking a bold roast out of this one!

  • Think of something they can use year round

Items that last and are used frequently keep your name and logo in front of your customer all year long. Tote bags for example, can be a used while holiday shopping or any time throughout the year when you need to carry a lot of stuff.


Our parent company FauDo designed and distributed these beautiful canvas tote bags for Bruce Peterson Photography

  • Don’t wait until Thanksgiving

Putting it off until late November doesn’t allow you the flexibility or the time to make a thoughtful selection of the right gifts, and ordering at the last minute can increase your costs. Consider your shipping expenses and whether you wish to mail or hand deliver your branded gift.

Take Away

In a world of social media and online marketing, sometimes small business owners forget about tried-and-true, traditional marketing methods, such as promotional products. When you use promotional products, your brand will be seen by the person who owns the product as well as by anyone they come in contact with. If you decide to give them a try, make sure to take the time to choose the right products for your business. When used correctly, they have the ability to increase brand awareness, strengthen your brand’s image and win customer loyalty. When you choose your promotional products strategically, you’ll have products on hand that your customers want and ask for.

Need inspiration? We can help design your next great promotional give-away. Click here to email us or call 504.482.1096.


1 Comment

  • You wrote that the key is to find the right product for your audience, so your product is not a trinket, and instead is relevant and has value. I had heard in the past that promotional items were a really great way for businesses to do a bit of marketing, while also providing customers with a nice gift. Perhaps something like a ruler, which is used by professionals and students alike, would be a great thing to have custom made with a company name on it. Thanks for the great tips.

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