November 9th, 2018 BY Douglas Lober

How to Stay Modern with Your Promotional Gifts

In the digital age, we see new products come out every year. Some of them have massive staying power, such as the iPhone. Others … notsomuch. (Looking at you, Apple Watch.) The problem with the latter, especially when it comes to promotional products for which you foot the bill, is that you end up spending lots of money to produce something people don’t appreciate. The answer? You need to ensure that all of your promotional gifts have staying power.

Now, that’s not to say that they have to be electronics or other digital accessories themselves. It merely means that your promotional gifts have to keep up with the times if you want people to use them long-term, and continue to do your marketing for you.

Let’s take a look at why longevity matters in promotional product marketing, what types of technology grow outdated quickly and which ones stand the test of time, and how you can choose a course of marketing that actually works long-term.

Why Do Promotional Products Need Durability and Longevity?

The simple answer to this is that promo products pay themselves back over time. The more eyeballs land on them, the better they accomplish your goal of marketing your products to the world – as well as to the initial client or customer to whom you gave or sold them. If their lives are too short, they don’t get seen. The good news is, people do keep well-made items.

According to research conducted in our recent piece, Understanding the True Staying Power of Promotional Products, “well-made promotional items have the ability to stick around for weeks, months or even years, says the Advertising Specialty Institute. According to a 2016 survey, they 58 percent of people own promo tee shirts, while 53 percent have drinkware and 50 have bags. Outerwear, caps and desk accessories rank up there as well.”

Moreover, “A little theoretical math will prove enlightening. Let’s assume that your average American receives four promotional items a year. That’s an item every 13 weeks. That means, in order for 50 percent of them to have an item at any given time, they’re keeping those items for at least 6 weeks on average. Keep in mind that these numbers are an average, which means some promotional items hang around for years … or conceivably even decades.”

Of course, 6 weeks is a pretty long time, especially for a pen or a notepad. But it’s not as long as you need it to be, especially for a tech item that often costs more than your average pen or mug. So you want to be careful, which means knowing which items to avoid.

Tech to Avoid in Promo Products

Before talking about what you should buy, let’s discuss what you shouldn’t. The following products, or classes of products, usually result in wasting money rather than bringing in customers, so they’re best eschewed.

  • Steer clear of any technological items that cater to a specific brand. For instance, cases that only serve Apple products or specialized handheld devices that only conform to windows products are a bad idea. As soon as your customer no longer uses that brand, your promotional item has become useless. You can save yourself a lot of grief if you stick with items that will work across technological platforms. Think screen wipers, USB drives or calculators.
  • Avoid mobile chargers or docking station that are unique to a brand as well. Unless you are that brand, you’re taking a shot in the dark and it won’t pay off as well as a universal item will. Instead, feel free to offer universal smart phone covers, wireless chargers and phone mounting tools.
  • Low-quality office tools also don’t deserve your attention. Cheap calculators, crummy phone covers and USBs that stick are so annoying that your customers are more likely to run the other way than to come see you again – even if the promotional item has nothing to do with the service you actually offer. Look for items made in the United States or in another country with verified quality control (and human rights standards).
  • Avoid outdated fabrics. Make no mistake, textiles are a type of technology – just as cavemen, who didn’t have them. In the modern age, we’ve learned to make fabrics lighter, comfier and less prone to shrinking and warping. However, that doesn’t mean that uncomfortable, awkward and totally unwashable fabrics don’t still exist. Ditto bulky tee shirts made for women, which they never wear. Opt for classy, cutting-edge fabrics that are soft, form-fitting, pre-shrunk and in line with your modern brand.

That said, you can totally find tech gifts that appeal to your clients and customers, and easily stay current with the modern age, so that they have that long lifespan to give you a return on investment.

The Best Modern Promotional Gifts

To stay in step with modernity, consider the following tech-forward gifts:

  • Speakers that work with all devices
  • Silicone cell phone sleeves that keep phones safe and secure in phones and purses, or keep cards and cash close at hand
  • Mouse pads, which everyone always needs
  • Webcam covers, which in the post-Snowden era we all need
  • Power banks that can recharge different devices to keep them full all day long
  • Well-made USB drives with caps or slide closures to keep them free of dirt and grime
  • 3-in-one charging devices that work across platforms
  • Wall chargers that plug to USB cords to meet all device specifications
  • Shirts and caps that don’t shrink, warp or discolor with washing
  • Reusable bags that maintain sharp printing and strong color over time

The bottom line? If your product will last at least a year, it’s a good one. If you can work with a company whose products last more like 3-5 years, even better. Do your research first to ensure the goods are made by trusted manufacturers, the customer service reps will help you even after purchase, and the tech items will stay current for customers even once they switch devices. Do that, and you’re good.