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Who doesn’t like getting something for free? As I look around my desk while I am writing this, I am surrounded by just some of the promotional products I have received – a keychain promoting a theatre production, post-it notes for a construction company, and a mug for a school. I’ve got t-shirts, blankets, lunch bags, and even a toothpaste squeezer. Some of these promotional products I’ve had for years, which means I see the company names on the promotional products every single day. I can’t say that I necessarily needed any of these items, but when someone asked me if I wanted this or that for FREE, I couldn’t help but say yes.

So what is the attraction to giveaways like these?

Experiments and studies have been done on this topic, and there’s a lot of psychology behind it. The term FREE triggers a positive response in people. It gets our attention. We humans like getting things with little or no effort, and feeling like we got either a deal or the upper hand in a transaction. When we’re offered something for free, it’s easy to say yes because there’s nothing really to lose. If you have low expectations, well, the item was free, so no money lost. Neutral expectations says why not, give it a shot. And you could end up with a positive impression of the promotional item, which then transfers to positive feelings toward the business or the brand. Bottom line: promotional products open your mind to possibilities, like the possibility of doing business with your company.

The concept of reciprocity also comes into play with promotional products. As a species, we humans don’t like to feel indebted to others. I think of a time when an associate treated me to lunch. I vowed to myself that I would treat the next time, and for this time, I insisted on paying the tip. We don’t like that sense of imbalance, and we try to find ways to make things equal. That’s why Costco gives out free samples (at least pre-COVID) and 7-Eleven treats customers to a free slurpee day. It might seem counterintuitive, but companies make more money when they give things away, the caveat being that these items reflect on the business appropriately. While we’re visiting one of these stores and picking up our freebie, we may exit finding we purchased more than we originally intended to.

Some Stats Behind Promotional Products

Statistics show that brands that give out a promotional item are remembered twice as much as those that do not. Over 80% of people own at least one promotional product.

As businesses and markets recover from the pandemic, make promotional products work for your small business in 2021 to attract and engage your customers and your staff.

Promotional Products for Your Customers

Virtual events: Last year, when COVID brought on the cancellation of concerts and theatre productions and conferences, many organizations pivoted by putting their events live online. As we head into 2021, that trend continues, especially with cautious estimates that in-person events will not likely occur widespread until health organizations distribute a vaccine, with third quarter predications that we see some return to normalcy. Promotional items promote brand and event awareness, and thank participants for attending the event.

Ideas for promotional products to raise brand awareness and customer loyalty depend on the event and the business, but include any items that people might normally pick up from you at an event – pens, water bottles, and grocery totes. Along with a thank you note for attending, include promotional products such as a magnet, office supplies, or a branded gift card.

Safety and health: Unfortunately, the end of 2020 did not signal an end to COVID, but we’re getting closer. For now, though, customers worry about their health and safety when interacting with businesses. Print your logo on carry-out paper bags. Grab customer attention with a custom sign. Communicate messages related to safety inside your establishment with stickers and signs. Outfit your team with logo apparel for easy identification by customers and to build brand awareness.

Banners call attention to your place of business

Promotional Products for Your Staff

Work from home: COVID found many employees spending at least part of their time working from home. This past year became a grand experiment in working remotely. Many companies directed their staff to remain remote for much of this year, while others allow their employees to work a hybrid model of remote some days and in the office on others. Companies look to stay connected to their at-home staff and encourage employee engagement. In addition to the items I mentioned found in my own at-home office, additional promotional items for the work-at-home employee include: data blocker (attaches between a USB and a charger and prevents hackers from accessing your data by blocking data transfers and syncing, earbuds with mic and volume control, and a blue tooth speaker. Aside from tech items, there are stainless steel tumblers, fleece blankets, and candles to make the at-home office more relaxed.

And returning to the office: Many employees have or will be returning to work in the office. These staff members want to be assured that companies continue to care for their health and safety. Promotional products for this group include: hand sanitizer and masks. For a fun or stress reduction factor, purchase custom chocolate or snacks, or stress relievers. Freebies, giveaways, and rewards let staff members know that you care.

Fun promotional products that also relieve stress