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How to Get Better Results From Your Promo Products

How to Get Better Results From Your Promo Products

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: September 6, 2016 Updated: September 6, 2016

From baseball caps and logoed T-shirts to USB drives and key chains, promotional products are part of many small businesses' marketing mix. But since these products can quickly get costly, how can you ensure you’re getting the most from them? The Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study 2016 has some answers.

Promotional products are as popular as ever. In fact, one-quarter of all Americans have some type of promotional product. The most common: T-shirts (58 percent), drinkware (53 percent), writing instruments, outerwear and bags (all tied for 50 percent).

Promotional products are popular because they work.

  • Consumers in all age groups under 55 prefer promotional products to any other type of advertising.
  • The average promotional product makes more than 2,000 impressions over its lifetime.
  • No matter what type of promo item you give out, consumers keep it for an average of seven months — and when they're done with it, they typically give it to someone else rather than discard it.
  • Consumers have very positive feelings about promotional products — when asked how they feel upon receiving one, words like "grateful," "happy" and "good" come to mind.

Need ideas for what types of promotional products to use?  In addition to the above-mentioned items, consumers in the survey owned the following:

  • USB drives
  • Caps/headwear
  • Desk accessories
  • Calendars
  • Polo shirts
  • Umbrellas
  • Health and safety items

Here’s a closer look at which products work best for what purposes.

Calendars are great promo tools because they offer a year’s worth of branding. More than three-fourths of people who have promotional calendars say they display them prominently at home or in the office. Not surprisingly, older Americans are more likely than other demographics to use promotional calendars, so if your target market includes people age 55 and up, calendars might be a good marketing tool.

Desk accessories make a longer-lasting impression than even calendars — consumers who own a promotional desk accessory typically keep it for an average of 14 months. And since 61 percent of desk accessories are kept at the workplace, this is a great promo product for a B2B business.

Bags generate more impressions than any other type of promotional item — on average, 5,700 impressions over the lifetime of a bag. (No, that's not a typo.) In addition, bags are popular among all age groups, from 18 to 65 and up. And while you might think that bags are confined to women, 42 percent of male consumers (compared to 57 percent of females) own a promotional bag.

Promotional USB drives are most popular with younger consumers — those 18 to 24 are the most likely age group to own one. Due to their usefulness, they’re equally popular among urban, rural and suburban consumers.

Another useful product that's especially popular with those in the 18 to 44 age group: mobile power banks. A whopping 87 percent of consumers overall say they would keep a promotional mobile power bank because it's useful, and 60 percent of consumers say they are more likely to do business with the company that gave it to them.

Overall, the five most influential promotional products are

  1. USB drives
  2. Outerwear
  3. Drinkware
  4. Writing instruments
  5. Performance wear

Trying to influence a specific demographic? Men are most influenced by USB drives, drinkware and outerwear, in that order, while women are most influenced by USB drives, and outerwear and bags.

There are also differences depending on whether your target customers are urban, suburban or rural. Urban consumers are most influenced by writing instruments, USB drives and outerwear; those in the suburbs are most influenced by USB drives, outerwear and drinkware; and rural consumers are most influenced by performance where, drinkware and mobile power banks.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at and visit to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades