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Promotional gifts and the marketing mix

There are two main ways that promotional gifts can be utilised by marketing professionals: either as ‘external gifts’ or ‘internal tools’. I believe it’s important to integrate both into a company’s marketing mix to ensure that campaigns have maximum impact.


Promotional items as external gifts

External gifts are branded items that are given away, for example, to attendees at an exhibition, where the gifts can be used to entice visitors to a stand. Experienced exhibitors often implement a tiered structure of giveaway, stocking premium gifts, such as high-end pens or executive travel flasks, to be reserved for those with large spending power. The more luxurious the offering, the stronger the message that their business is valued and desired. Nonetheless, lower-cost promotional gifts are also effective marketing tools, allowing companies to get their ‘foot in the door’ with potential clients.


Promotional gifts as internal tools

These are items that a company gives to its own employees. Whether that’s providing a bag, folder or notebook for employees who work on the road or outside of the office, or rewarding team members with bespoke gifts for longstanding service or outstanding achievements. Remember, if your employees are carrying branded items, they’re acting as a walking advert for your business! In tough economic times, boosting morale and enhancing workers’ motivation is key to ensuring staff retention – using promotional gifts as internal rewards is a great way to achieve this.


What can be done on a budget?

There are thousands of promotional items that can be brought in and used in the marketing mix at a very low cost – often under £1.  That said, it’s important to be clear on how the products will be used in a marketing campaign in order to align budget with objectives. What is the message that needs to be communicated? Who are the items for? When are the items needed? Once this information is finalised, a promotional merchandise company will be able to generate suitable campaign ideas and provide product samples. Many will also be able to present a virtual sample in 2D or even 3D. They’ll be on-hand to provide guidance on how to best achieve the desired campaign objectives on the agreed budget too.


Gadgets and gifts vs. traditional marketing methods

The way that promotional products are used in marketing has changed significantly in recent years. Previously, traditional marketing methods have tended to take a broad approach and pigeonhole a vast range of recipients into the same campaign, often gifting customers with everyday items that many people require, such as pens, bags and mugs. This can have its advantages, spreading a brand name fast and far.


Today, gadgets and gifts are being utilised by marketers to produce much more targeted and effective campaigns. These function by offering bespoke, high-quality products to a much smaller group of individuals, for optimum impact. I now see marketers requesting items, such as personalised 3D paperweights, leather folders and metal business card holders to be used for corporate gifting. When choosing products like these to promote a brand, the aim is to impress and be remembered.


Promotional gifting is a fantastic way to promote a brand and can be integrated into any company’s marketing strategy in a number of ways. A marketer can employ a number of methods to maximise the benefit of promotional marketing, from supplying branded gifts internally, to boost morale and create a ‘walking advert’ for your workforce, right through to the targeted use of high-end gadgets as corporate gifts. From experience, I’ve found that a combination of these methods tends to achieve the best results.