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Don’t Make These 9 Mistakes Ordering Promotional Products

Mistakes to Avoid when ordering promotional products

Updated: February 21, 2019

Do you know which 9 mistakes to avoid when ordering Promotional Products?

Promotional items can be a great way to increase your company's brand awareness, gain new customers and reinforce brand loyalty. In my 20+ years in this business, I’ve seen a few jobs go wrong because of a mix up of facts, colors, formats and more. And I have some advice to help.

If you’re about to order promotional products I encourage you to take a few moments to read about these common mistakes, so you can avoid them like a pro!

Follow these simple guidelines, and your orders should come out exactly as you expect, at the price you want, and on time to boot!

Mistake #1: Shopping Without Purpose

With millions of promotional items to choose from, it’s important that you understand the purpose of your promotional product campaign. What are your desired results?

  • Do you want to increase traffic to your website?
  • Are you trying to promote a special offer?
  • Do you just want people to know you exist?
  • All of the above?

Advice: Do your homework before you start, so you can set realistic expectations, based on desired results and budget. Figure out how you'll measure success too. Once you've defined your purpose, you'll have a better idea of which products to choose, what designs to use, and even which distribution plan will work best.

Mistake #2: Choosing the Wrong Product

A custom beer Koozie is a great giveaway for a brewery, but it's probably not "on brand" for a hospital. I’ve seen buyers select items because they think the product is "cool" or "trendy", but the promotion may not match your brand's persona or appeal to your audience.

Advice: Don't make it personal by selecting products that appeal to only your own tastes. Avoid chasing trends and picking products because they're "hot". Take some time to research the interests and hobbies of your target demographic so you can select a product that not only appeals to them, but matches your brand's personality.

Mistake #3: Using A Bland or Generic Design

Does your giveaway have enough visual impact? Does it stand out from the crowd or blend in? Have you used the imprint areas to enhance your message with a catchy slogan or theme, or have you just used your logo?

Advice: Choose a product and matching imprint that gets a positive reaction! One way to do this can be to use a memorable (or clever) slogan. Another way to get noticed is to select a product that's unexpected and/or memorable, but still "on brand".

Need a few ideas? Check out my post with "Popular Slogans and Matching Products"

Mistake #4: Not Having a Distribution Plan

Before you get your products, figure out how you're going to get rid of them! Do you attend trade shows? Do you visit customers in the field? Do prospects come to your place of business? Are you trying to reach new customers, or communicate with existing customers? Do you have information like emails, addresses and names?

Advice: No matter how you answer these questions, be purposeful with your distribution method. Choose the method that you believe will fit your goals.

  • Already have names and addresses? Awesome, a "Lumpy Mail" campaign might work. Check out my post, What is Lumpy Mail?
  • Are you meeting prospects at a trade show far away? Choosing a product that's easy to transport and hand out might be helpful.
  • Are prospects coming to your place of business? Having a product that can be placed somewhere visible, or at the perfect moment may be key.

Every situation is a little different, but if you pay attention, over time you'll begin to see what distribution methods are successful for you. You might find more than one method works best.

Mistake #5: Ordering "Cheap" Products

Let's be honest, we ALL love a great deal. Understanding the difference between "Cheap" and "Affordable" can really help when it comes to buying promotional products.

Advice: Most promo products are fairly inexpensive when you consider other types of marketing. As tempting as a good deal is, you never want to sacrifice quality for quantity. By choosing higher quality (yet affordable) products, you won't tarnish your brand's reputation. Trust me, choosing cheap products that feel or look "chintzy" or actually fall apart WILL cost you more in the long run.

Be mindful. What you give away is a direct reflection of your brand.

Looking for quality products that won't break the bank? Check out these helpful guides:

Mistake #6: Not Taking Advantage of Your Imprint Area

Avoiding the printing of ineffective information sounds like a no brainer, but if you don't take the time to consider your message, and use all of the available imprint area, you could be leaving new customers and more sales on the table.

Advice: Include your website and contact information on your promotional items! A logo can be memorable, but not having a way for people to contact your or learn more about your product is inexcusable when it comes to promotional items. Check each product's imprint sizes to maximize your message. You often have limited room to work with, so make every word and every inch of imprint area count.

Remember: A call to action isn’t a marketing maybe, it’s a marketing must! 

Mistake #7: Not Proofing Carefully

Once you’ve signed off on a proof and the job is in progress, additional changes will mean tossing out the old, and beginning from scratch. And, you know you’ll have to pay extra unless it’s not your fault. This means it's up to you to carefully review any proof your promotional company sends you!

Advice: When it comes to proofing there are a few things you can do to limit mistakes, including:

  • Always get help from two other people - Whether it's two coworkers, a friend and a family member, or some combination of each. Don't just rely on yourself! More eyes = less mistakes.
  • Check the ink and PMS colors as well the actual imprint position. These may not be as easy for outsiders to understand, so be diligent when reviewing.
  • While details can be factually correct, have you considered legibility? Are the sizes and colors you've chosen readable. What about in low light? Did you provide enough contrast? If you have an older audience, you may want to consider higher contrast and larger font sizes.

Mistake #8: Being Stingy on Quantities

Don’t be afraid to order a few extra products to have on hand for future events and surprise trade shows or meetings.

Advice: Most vendors offer quantity price breaks where the price per piece decreases as the quantity increases. A company can often save 10 to 15 percent on an order by just adding more product. Planning out your event calendar and product purchases ahead of time can save big time!

Mistake #9: Paying Rush Charges

Paying rush charge fees is one of the biggest mistakes I've seen customers make, and it's one of the easiest ways to reduce costs.

Advice: Think and plan ahead! A typical production facility schedules weeks in advance, so when a rush order comes in, changes must be made at the plant and guess who pays that bill? You!

By placing your order ahead of time, you'll avoid rush order fees of 25% or more. And don't forget about shipping fees too. Getting your order from point A to point B, costs much less when you've provided enough time to ship by ground instead of air.

Need help choosing the perfect product?

Contact me to work one-on-one!

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