From your sponsored football kit at school, to your first day scouting for freebies at a freshers’ fair, to that make-or-break client meeting, every one of us has encountered promotional products multiple times throughout our lives. Today, almost every business owner or marketer knows the incredible power that custom promotional products can wield, but there are still a few people who wonder – are all those branded pens really worth the money?

If you think that promo items are simply a token gesture or an added bonus, it’s time to think again. Custom promotional logo products are amongst the most effective tools in any advertising campaign.

For those of you wondering whether it’s worth spending your money on some branded promotional gear, we are here to help you weigh up the benefits of custom promotional products to help you decide whether they ARE really worth the investment.


Promotional products and ROI: the stats

There are many benefits of adding promotional products to your marketing plan – from improving your brand reputation to creating a sense of connection with your audience. But, for the purposes of determining value for money, let’s start with the facts.

In a 2014 study, 96% of experienced marketers who had tried using promotional products said that they thought they were worth the money in increasing brand awareness, whilst 73% of the public claimed that they would purchase from a company that gave them the promotional gift. These statistics are both a huge majority, and demonstrate that custom promotional products are not just valuable for marketers, but for customers, too.

The average person owns around 10 promotional products at any given point in their life. Those who receive promotional products keep them for an average of seven months. This is not a lifetime, but when you compare it to the length of exposure that you get with, say, a TV advertisement, it is a long period indeed. With over half a year of repeated exposure to a tangible product, your brand’s presence will be reinforced in the customer’s mind for a significant time.

After an individual has finished using their promotional product, you might assume it would go in the bin. This is not so. In fact, a 2013 report found that 63% of people actually pass on promotional products to others once they no longer have a use for it. This means that the recipient is actively spreading your message and advertising for you, with no further investment required whatsoever.


Why custom promotional products work

So why and how do promotional products work so well to advertise your company in a financially sustainable way? Often they carry a number of key qualities that make promotional items a profitable investment. Here are a few of them:

1. Brand identification

It has been widely proven that physical promotion is one of the most effective ways to improve brand identification among potential and existing customers. 85% of consumers are able to identify the advertisers on the promotional products they own, and many even remember the brand they have received products from for many years after they have finished using them.

This is not just a matter of getting customers to remember you – promotional products also improve your reputation in the consumer’s mind. The Advertising Specialties Institute interviewed over 2,000 people, asking them how they felt about companies who give them promotional items. The overwhelming response was positive, proving that receiving such products makes potential and current customers happy and grateful, encouraging them to buy from you in the future.

If you offer custom promotional products, you will be on to an even bigger winner. Every one of us likes to feel special, so sending personalised products to current customers is a surefire way of showing them you value their commerce, which in turn instils a sense of brand loyalty that could earn you a customer for life.

2. Longevity and consistent returns

Another merit of custom promotional products is their longevity. The ASI notes that one of the main benefit of physical promotional products is the lack of interruptions inherent with other forms of advertising. Whereas individuals can fast forward through television advertisements, scroll past an online banner ad, or take an alternative route to work, missing your billboard entirely, they cannot ignore seeing your logo on the desk calendar they use at work every day.

Custom promotional products in particular often become cherished by recipients – simply because it has their name on it, or is made especially for them. This takes the exposure the item yields much further than the seven month average, and increases the chances of the individual showing the product off to friends, co-workers and family, exposing even more people to your brand.

3. A long-term investment

One undeniable draw of custom promotional products for your business’ finances is that they are a predictable investment. According to the Advertising Specialties Institute,

“the cost for advertising specialties is not expected to increase markedly in the next few years, making them a more stable, reliable and innovative way for advertisers to reach consumers.”

Unlike other forms of marketing, rates are not set to increase with every year, and you are not tied in to any complicated contracts. You can simply buy some custom promotional products and distribute them at your will for as long as you wish to see the positive effects manifest.

4. Mass marketing through customers

The BPMA has proven that 90% of people are actively engaging with a brand, institute or association on a daily basis. This means that every single day is an opportunity. Think of that branded mug you received years back – do you still use it? The chances are that it’s still on display in your kitchen cupboard.

This means that your brand is exposed to hundreds of others on a daily basis, for many years. Whether it’s a promotional cap or a multifunctional pen and highlighter duo, you never know where the recipient will take the product, and who might take notice of it. From a busy street to an influential conference, who knows which mass market your recipient could expose you to.

5. The cost per impression of custom products

Of course, the bottom line that you are likely to be curious about is what sort of return on investment you can expect from custom promotional products. To calculate this, you must work out the cost per impression of the product in question. On average, a custom promotional product has a cost per impression of only 0.004 pence each. This will, of course, vary with the item at hand, but it is still significantly lower than for radio, magazine, web or television advertising. For example, billboards only receive 500 impressions per dollar spent, whereas a branded bag would receive at least 1,000.

When considering which items to invest in, it might be worth spending a few pence more. Customising the product with your logo and slogan to more accurately reflect the services you provide the user will get the item – and by extension, your brand – noticed by customers. For example, an individual may receive hundreds of complementary stress balls, but the ones they will remember are likely to be custom stress balls, relevant to your industry, like a gavel-shaped stress ball for a law firm for example. Once you’ve factored in how many more people the customer might show the custom item to, you have more than covered that slightly higher price-point.


Products with impressive ROI

So which custom promotional products should you consider investing in? Various studies have found that USB memory sticks and drives, clothing, printed pens, promotional coffee mugs, tote and cotton bags and sponsored clothing are among the most successful promotional items. But what makes these items stand out?

USB Drives

Company branded USB drives are one of the most effective promotional products on the market. There are many reasons why custom USB drives work, but the main draw for customers is that they are useful. Rather than being a novelty that may get forgotten, USB drives can be used every day, and they are functional. Office workers and CEOs alike will use a branded USB drive to store their work, and will take them everywhere from in-office meetings to big conferences, effectively exposing your company to even more eyes.


Branded clothing is proven to yield an impressive 2300 impressions per item, making it a very worthwhile investment. One of the reasons for this is because, when the recipient wears the item, they are not just interacting with your brand themselves, they are also showing it off to hundreds of other people they pass every day. Including your logo here is a must, and a catchy slogan is also a good idea to give people an idea of what your brand is about. If you want maximum impact, consider outerwear like branded corporate jackets, because these give the most visibility. The last thing you want is for your logo t-shirt to be hidden underneath a jumper!


Pens are the classic promotional product, and for good reason. Due to the low cost of buying these items, they are very cost-effective. In fact, a promotional pen provides 3100 impressions per unit, a very high number for something so small! This is because we use them so often in life, from work to home, so the logo on the side will be constantly in our vision.

Of course, most of us own many pens, so if you want yours to be chosen, it’s often a good idea to spend a little more on a quality item.

Drinking items

How many times have you grabbed a coffee on the go from work or a local business? The answer is probably more than you can count, and this is why drinkware like take away mugs are so effective. Many of us rely on our favourite caffeinated beverage to get through the day, and so visitors to your HQ, or attendees at a trade show, will be very grateful to pick up a coffee with your logo on the cup. And, as you can choose from disposable cups to high quality travel mugs to gift to valued clients to keep and use repeatedly, there is a product for every budget.


Bags gain an astounding 6000 impressions per item, making them an essential investment for any business. Individuals are always looking for bags to carry their possessions or shopping in – especially now we have to pay for plastic carrier bags. Handing out promo shopper bags is a surefire way to ensure your promotional gift will be used and valued by recipients. It will also get your logo seen by fellow shoppers in big supermarkets and in towns, leading to further brand exposure down the line.

Sponsored clothing

If you’re looking for a promotional product that you can ensure will be seen by big crowds, sponsored items such as printed or embroidered polo shirts are a great option. Partnering up with a local youth sports team, for example, and gifting them some branded sports wear to use in matches will get your logo seen by hundreds at every game. It will also solidify a positive reputation for your business, both locally and at matches further afield.


Making promo products cost-effective

By now we have established that custom promotional products are very much worth the money. However, there are still ways that these items can be used to maximise their investment. The two keywords here are purpose and intention.

According to Marketing Eye, 62% of people recall the details of companies who offer them a promotional item.

“the key to making the most of this statistic starts with knowing your target market. Niche-market messages coupled with good promotional products can effectively spearhead the correct market segment for your brand. To make this a cost-effective and ideally profitable marketing campaign in the long-term, you need to make sure that the cost of producing the right promotional product will achieve levels of recall that are far greater than general media advertising.”

In essence, you need to know who your audience are and the kind of products they find useful. This is the best way to ensure long-term exposure. Secondly, consider the profit you stand to make if the product does lead to a conversion or enquiry. For example, if you are an IT firm whose services cost an average of £300, there is no point sending 100 people an iPad. However, handing out a few key potential customers a promotional iPad or tablet case at a trade show would be a much more successful tactic with a better return on investment.

As Ginny Mineo writes for Hubspot, it is important to think about what you are hoping to achieve with your promotional items:

“If you’re mainly worried about generating brand awareness with your swag, think about how many people will see your swag and then remember your brand. To measure that, you could calculate impressions (and that’s a very, very, very rough metric) and couple it with data on direct and organic search traffic to your website.”

Once you have worked this out, you can decide who to send the products to, and which items to choose. Including your logo and website address will encourage people to visit your site and confirm they’ve found the right one.


Generating leads with custom promotional products

If you’re looking to generate measurable leads with your custom promotional products, it may be wise to introduce some kind of incentive to receive the item. For example – ask people to fill out a contact form or take your business card to receive a free power bank at a conference. This way you can measure the number of leads you get from using the products, and you could even get the individual’s details to follow up with an email about your services.

If you require further information or have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to give a member of our experienced team a call on 0800 0148 970 or simply email us today.