Where to Put Your Marketing Budget: How Promotional Products Fare Against Traditional Advertising

It’s no secret that the biggest acronym in marketing is ROI (return on investment) – and that is for a good reason. Most people don’t understand the effectiveness of promotional products.

That’s why when we work with our clients, we not only focus on getting you the right products at the best price, but getting you an actual return on your investment.


For too long marketers have had to struggle with limited data to know how their marketing campaigns were working, and how the customers they do reach are impacted by their message.

In this age of communication, we as marketers are no longer beholden to the traditional forms of advertising that we’ve relied on in the past. From direct mailers to newspaper inserts, this article will show you how branded promotional products have the potential, and the data, to boost your ROI and bottom line more than the advertising methods of yesterday.

What would you rather have: seven seconds or seven months?

Imagine you were in a room with the top advertising executives from all of the Fortune 500 companies. 500 different incredibly successful businesses; 500 completely different advertising and marketing philosophies and practices.

Now imagine you were able to ask each and every one of them whether they’d rather have a potential customer’s attention for seven seconds (about half the length of many television commercials), or seven full months.

Our money would be on 500/500 picking the seven months of exposure.

Promotional Products Work

And it isn’t hard to see why:

According to The Financial Brand, research proves messages are more effective when repeated. Meaning, the longer and more often a potential customer or member of your ideal market is exposed to your product, brand, or idea, the more commonplace it becomes in their thinking.

The more commonplace your brand becomes in their thinking, the more likely they are to consider purchasing what you’ve been advertising to them, whether it be a product or service.

You may be asking yourself: what does all of this data have to do with the power of promotional products? Well, if you’ve been paying attention, the answer is simple: just about everything.

A Billboard That Never Goes Away

According to the 2016 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI), one of the world’s leading authorities on promotional products, consumers who receive or win a useful promotional product keep it on an average of seven months (a timeline that expands with certain products like yearly calendars).

Keeping a branded promotional product around means continued exposure to your marketing message, on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis for seven months – and all of this without any kind of additional or continued ad buy. Think of it like a billboard that never goes away.

Now, compare those kind of ongoing results with a traditional ad that runs in a newspaper, magazine, or other medium. These ads are not only extremely costly (with some billboards reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars), but generally make a single and brief impression on the consumer – in best case scenarios, catching their eye for just a moment or two while they’re busy doing something else.

Once the publication is discarded or the billboard is driven by, so, too, is the ad, making the advertisement just about as worthless as the garbage it will soon become.

When you consider traditional advertising and promotional products, it’s not hard to see where you get the most bang for your buck.

See for yourself: Let’s take a quick self-test. Think about the last time you were watching television. Maybe your favorite sports team was playing, or your favorite network show was airing its season finale. Think back: what was the last commercial you saw?

We’d be willing to bet that you can’t remember, and that’s exactly the trouble with TV and other forms of advertising. Now, if that same ad appeared on an item you use every day, like personalized stationary or personalized post-its, chances are, you’d remember exactly what it was advertising. Increased exposure means increased retention.

Smaller Reach Doesn’t Mean Smaller Impact; Numbers Can Be Deceiving

With promotional products, though they may end up in front of less people than a traditional form of advertising, the impact on those customers you do reach has the potential to be much, much greater. This can often result in increased ROI for each dollar you spend.


Think about the way you consume traditional advertising: you’re being talked at, told what to buy and how to spend your money. Now think of when you receive a promotional product. More often than not, promotional products are presented to consumers during a warm handoff, or direct contact with a brand ambassador.


This not only gets the promotional product in the hands of someone who is actually interested in what it might be advertising, but does so in a way that associates the brand and messaging with a positive interaction.

So, when considering where to spend your marketing dollars, the most up-to-date information tells us to ditch the door knockers and put away the periodicals – a properly placed promotional products can give your marketing dollar a multi-month lifespan.

Which Form of Advertising Will Help You Unlock a Key Demographics: Millennials

Research shows the not only do millennials have the buying power to change any market in a split second (think of the smartphone market today versus 10 years ago), but that they also play by completely different advertising rules than their parents. Rather than wanting to be talked to or advertised at, Millennials as a whole want to be rewarded for brand loyalty, and see tangible results from the the brands and products they decide to support. There is simply no way that a television ad or newspaper insert can provide that return to their consumers.

Forbes tells us simply that, when it comes to millennials “traditional marketing isn’t going to cut it.” This includes all of the media outlets we’ve mentioned so far in this piece. And unless you have the budget, time, and talents to start and monitor a sophisticated online advertising campaign that reaches millennials where they are, useful, innovative, and reward-focused promotional products are one of the only ways to capture this generation’s elusive dollar, and their even more-elusive attention.

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