When the boss asked me to come up with a list of the ten most popular promotional items, I thought he was a little crazy. There are well over 600,000 products to choose from. How would I, a mere mortal, narrow down this list to just ten items?
Well believe it or not, creating the list was actually fairly simple. There are a few items that are staples in the industry. These are things that just about everyone or every company can use or need. Items that have stood the test of time. Products that people love to give, and likewise like to receive. so without any further introduction, we present the ten most popular promotional items.
# 10. Water bottles
If there’s one thing that athletes, students, yogis, nerds, trendsetters, secretaries, and the environmentally conscious all have in common, it’s water bottles. And no, I’m NOT referring to the over-priced, plastic, disposable ones that are supposedly filled with fresh spring water. I’m talking about the colorful, reusable bottles that are eco-friendly, logo-imprinted, sturdy, BPA free, hard plastic, aluminum, metal, steel, or who-knows-what… you name it. Everyone’s using them. And good for us! I mean, we all know how important it is to stay hydrated, to energize ourselves with water flowing through our veins. Carrying around a branded bottle is both self-nurturing… and hip. It’s like having your very own customized micro-nutrient carrier. And it sure makes a lot more sense than scrounging around the gas station for some dirty drinking fountain. Or worse, buying bottled water and supporting the downfall of our precious ozone layer. People keep customized water bottles for a long time. As well they should. Your customers will thank you… and feel the love. Water, after all, is the source of life!
# 9. Flashlights
Ask an electrician, and he’ll tell you that every home, school and office should have a couple of flashlights handy in case of a power outage. Ask a security officer, and he’ll tell you that every car, key chain, purse, and dog leash should have a flashlight inside or attached in case of an emergency. Ask me, and I’ll tell you, forget the action figures and building blocks—every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, and babysitter should have a flashlight handy in case of extreme childhood boredom. Why a flashlight, you ask? Because as I’ve learned over the years: flashlights make great entertainment. All it takes is the flick of a switch and Junior’s dormant imagination will be ignited. Watch games develop like fireman in the smoke, jungle shadows, emergency power outage rescue, dentist appointment, and more!
Flashlights are unique because everyone needs one, and everyone can use another one because, let’s be honest, they occasionally go AWOL. Whether playing cavity hunt or nervously groping around in the dark for the fuse box, people will be thankful for your generous imprinted flashlight and, of course, be sure to remember your name and logo.
# 8. Mugs
Most of us Americans, whether plump and sluggish or lithe and lively, drink coffee or tea. Sure, our opinions may vary when it comes to brand but no matter the taster’s choice, we all agree on the one essential ingredient of the daily fix. We all use mugs! Without mugs, we’re nothing. Without mugs, we’re done for. Without mugs, no chugs!
And that’s why mugs make a perfect gift… for everyone on your list.
And here’s why. The poetry of the word itself transmits the deeper meaning. Duh, huh, uhhh… the modest vowel that breathes life into an innocent guppy or lovable mutt! It calls forth protective instincts. It tugs at the heart. It makes you want to give a mug a hug. Then there are the practical reasons to give the gift of a mug. Mugs save trees by reducing demand for disposable cups, and we all know how important it is to preserve our planet. People keep their mugs on their desks ALL day or carry them around like a security blanket. Mugs are always there, and people can’t help but see and embrace whatever logo handsomely lingers there.
# 7. Mouse Pads
When people ask me, “Why mouse pads,” I reply confidently, “Why not?” Mouse pads, you see, are like mice in an elephant jungle. On the one hand, mice are small and seemingly insignificant little creatures, but on the other hand they make a big impact on the elephants. Similarly, think about your average mouse pad. It looks as if it just sits on a desk all day doing nothing, like a listless loser. But print a logo on the darn thing and watch out world!!! The mouse pad immediately becomes the life of the party. You see, mouse pads are subtle but they can be extremely powerful. Stamped with a message, they are the hub of your jetway to the digital galaxy. People use them incessantly as they blast off into the binary cosmos. They are a low-cost item and they can be imprinted with full and dazzling color. Not many items can, like the mouse pad, walk the fine line between lowly and exalted. So why mouse pads, you ask? Simple. Mouse pads rock.
# 6. Stress Relievers
I used to work at a public library and needless to say some of my co-workers were real annoying. But working at the library meant that I didn’t exactly have the luxury of screaming at the top of my lungs or even closing my office door to do some deep breathing techniques. NO, I had to share a desk with the creeps who nearly drove me to insanity, and I had no space to let it out.
Stress. Yes, it happens to the best of us. And after exploding with rage a few too many times I finally got my hands on some darling little stress reliever balls. I lined them up in a neat and enchanting row on my desk and from then on, whenever my irritating co-workers ticked me off I was able to relieve myself in silence with a few hard squeezes under the desk. Sanity at last!!
Stress relievers come in many unique shapes, sizes, and colors. Unfortunately, we are not able to make them look exactly like your boss or co-workers but that’s probably a good thing because if we did, you would most definitely get fired. When they aren’t being thrown against the wall or squeezed to a pulp, these non-assuming little cuties will stand happily on your desk and attract the attention of all those who walk past. They tend to find their way into many peoples fists, so be sure to request a few extra when you place your order!
# 5. Bags
Now that you’ve got all your promotional products ready to hand out, did it ever occur to you to hand it out in a bag? No, not a plastic garbage bag you cheap sick-o, but a nice, logo-imprinted canvas one!
Picture this: You are at your next big trade show, hair gelled to perfection and looking great! You’re handing out logo-imprinted reusable bags (canvas, plastic, or poly) full of your various logo-imprinted items (flashlights, stress relievers, pens, etc), and the crowd is charmed! The bag is beautiful, and people happily accept it. They carry the bag around on their shoulders because it’s convenient and nice looking and behold—there you have it—a walking billboard!! Two for the price of one! Woot-toot!! Not to mention, if they are “green” like most of us nowadays, they’ll probably continue using this bag while schlepping their daily wares.
And by the way, higher-end bags are great too. They make wonderful customer- or employee-appreciation gifts. Trust me on this. I once got a sweeeeeet bag from my boss, and it changed my life for the best. It boosted my self-esteem and helped to get me to where I am today. Thanks boss–love ya! Love the bag, too!
# 4. Shirts
People will wear them, simple as that. Whether gardening, barbecuing, carpooling, jogging, biking, grocery shopping, or attending a fitness class, people WILL wear them. Everyone likes a free shirt. And everyone likes something new. Plus, people will keep them for a long time and wear them when you least expect it. Take good ol’ Henry McMuffinway, for example. It’s been 4 years since he got his free “Stanley’s Moving Company” t-shirt and every Sunday morning, be it rain or shine, he’s outside presenting Stanley’s moving logo to the world as he mows his lawn and weeds his garden. “It’s a fair trade,” McMuffinway says—”give me a free t-shirt and I’ll happily advertise for you!”
# 3. Magnets
I adore magnets. Can you imagine hanging to-do lists and art projects all over your fridge with scotch tape? That would totally suck. Besides, custom printed magnets save common folk the time of having to look up a phone number or company name in the yellow pages or online. Magnets are practical and useful, cheap and colorful. Plus, being at center stage of the home–the fridge–magnets get near-non-stop attention. Can’t beat that now, can ya?
# 2. Sticky Notes / Post it Notes
Note to Husband—”Change the light bulb in the front hallway.” Note to son, “Put your dirty clothes in the hamper.” Note to mailman, “Leave the mail between the two doors.” Note to self, “Buy more sticky notes!”
You see? I need them. I love them. I live by them! How else am I supposed to communicate with family members and remind myself of all the various things I need to do? Sticky notes are the savior for my busy lifestyle!
And don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Oh no! My friends and colleagues love to use them too. Aside from being a wonderful invention, sticky notes also happen to be cheap! You can print on them in full color, and they can be handed out by the handful. Whether they are sitting in a stack on someone’s desk, awaiting the next brainstorm, or being slapped up on walls and doors as those ideas flow, sticky notes and post-it notes get used, and your name will be seen.
# 1. Pens
With all the new-fandangled high-tech gadgets out there nowadays, you’d think that somebody would have come up with some computerized writing device to put the common pen out of business. But no sireeebob! Nobody can one-up the pen. Besides, why would they want to? Pens are like dogs. Both can be man’s best friend.
Do you remember the last time you were without a pen? It’s such a drag, right? Yah, I know the routine. You gotta scramble to write down your contact info or the license plate of a hit and run and you’re scrounging around bag, pocket, or glove compartment for a pen, but alas, there’s no pen to be found. Where in the heck could it be, you think? I always carry a pen with me. So you reach deeper into your bag, pocket or under the car seat, but there is still no pen to be found. Nada!
Or worse… you find a pen, the only pen, but it’s dead!
This is precisely why one can never have too many pens. One’s pen collection must be abundant enough to store a spare in every bag, every glove compartment, every pocket protector and every drawer. This is the reality. This is why pens are man’s best friend.
Now, as a salesman, this is where you really score! Pens are easy to hand out. They are low cost and can be handed out by the handful. Everyone uses them, and no normal person will throw a working pen in the garbage. They are easy advertising items and higher-end pens make nice gifts. They come in a variety of colors and styles so you can choose something really unique to complement your business. And think about it… we’ve all noticed how secretaries have had to tie pens to clip boards because people tend to walk away with pens. Let’s not be hung up about a pen. Better to have a lot and give them away!