Is Your Promotional Merchandise Being Trashed?

How many times have you gone to an event such as a concert, conference, or expo and walked away with tons of cool samples and gadgets, and also a load of useless crap? Let’s talk about the useless crap.

Is It Useless Crap?

I just went to an expo with my brothers. Fortunately, I walked away with absolutely nothing. They, however, came home with loads of what I perceived as crap. Yes, I said it…crap, garbage, bunk and a waste of good resources for the companies that gave it away. They didn’t gain a customer or even an advocate from their giveaways. What I’ve found is these items get passed down to the kids in the house who don’t make buying decisions, have a car, bank account or job.

Promotional Merchandise Smarts

Be smart about where and how you spend your marketing dollars when it comes to events where you exhibit at or participate in. Here are some things to think about when buying promotional merchandise:

  • Is It Cost Effective? Price, Price, Price!

For the amount of money you spend on each promotional piece, do you see your customers keeping the item? You do not want to spend money on promo material just because you are “supposed” to. You need to spend wisely on this just like everything else in your business.

  • What’s My End Game?

Promotional merchandise can differ based on what your end game is. Do you simply want your business contact info on the swag? Do you want to create an experience? Both? Asking yourself these questions can help you sort it out and get the most bang for your promotional buck.

  • Do You Have Brand Recognition? Yes?

If you have brand recognition, putting your contact info on your promotional merchandise is unnecessary. People know you! Great job! But don’t stop here.

  • Do You Have Brand Recognition? No?

“I don’t have brand recognition,” you say. Then be smart about it. Use the promotional materials as an opportunity to create brand recognition, even if it’s only in your local market. Depending on the merchandise you order, you can put your contact info, logo and even a tagline on your item.

  • Do It Right

Make it catchy, fun, quirky. Basically, make it memorable. If you are not creative with words, find someone around you who is, or hire a branding expert to help you in this area. It’s worth the money to do it right the first time. Walking by the garbage can at the event and seeing your hard-earned money in it can be completely demoralizing. Give this some real thought, planning, and effort.

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Promotional Merchandise
Catchy enough? Maybe?

Will Your Customers Love It or Leave It?

Of all the giveaways my brothers brought home from this event, their favorite was a stack of bumper stickers that were relevant to what they like. They didn’t fight over them, but there were definitely some snake eyes thrown around about who was going to get which bumper stickers.
You want people to WANT what you have. People love free crap; really, they do. If it’s free, even if it’s a condom, they want it. So find something worth wanting. Over the years of working with large brands, I’ve had a lot of fun ordering promotional material. There is some crazy stuff you can order! It can be challenging to come up with the right promotional merchandise for your brand at the right price, but done right, it’s worth every penny.


My favorite resource for promotional merchandise is Bamko. I have worked with the owner personally  for over five years. Not only do they provide exceptional service and competitive pricing, but they give back to their community. To me, corporate social responsibility is important in addition to pricing and service. Bamko does a wonderful job with all three.
Got questions regarding promotional merchandise for your upcoming event? I can help you sift through the innumerable possibilities that are available to you, so your swag doesn’t end up in the trash.

Promotional Merchandise


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