4imprint, LLC

| Updated: August 24, 2022

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in April 2005 and has since been updated to incorporate updated research on how promotional products work.

I recently ran across a television commercial for a car rental company that attempts to sell its brand as the “low stress, hassle-free” experience. The commercial started by showing the full-to-capacity lobby of a fictitious competitor where customers received imprinted stress balls to cover for long lines and poor service. One element of this ad is right on the money—no stress ball, coffee cup, pen or shirt will make up for a product or service that stinks. Then again, neither will a television commercial, radio spot or print advertisement. Still, ads like this make people wonder: Do promotional products work?

Do promotional products work?

Too often, promotional products are portrayed as unsophisticated or simplistic. Those of us in the promotional products business have seen plenty of ads—print and television—that use promotional items as a “cute” way of implying the relative lack of sophistication a company might have.

Promotional products are just like any other tool in a smart marketer’s toolbox—highly effective when used correctly. In fact, they’re ranked as the most effective form of advertising when it comes to encouraging someone to take action. And like most tools, they’re often used in combination with other things to increase their effectiveness.

This means the question isn’t simply “do promotional products work?” but rather, “how do promotional products work?”

How do promotional products work?

Promotional products, when used wisely, are a highly effective—and cost-effective—way of reaching an individual on a one-to-one basis. Promotional products build and strengthen relationships, create awareness, enhance the recall of traditional media advertising and have real staying power—with many customers keeping them for a year or more.

Offer a product that people use, and you will be remembered. Smart marketers know the impact these items have as part of any promotion or advertising campaign.

How to use promotional products

How much deeper might the “hassle-free” brand message of the car rental company resonate if, in tandem with its TV campaign, the company actually gave their customers a stress ball imprinted with some sort of “you might need this elsewhere, but you won’t need it here” message?

By adding a promotional product to the marketing mix, the company would get a fun new reason to interact with their customers, while driving home an important brand message and improving the effectiveness of a large television advertising investment.

Promotional products work—and that’s pretty powerful stuff.