How to Pick the Best Personalized Giveaways for Your Promotions

If you run your own business, then you’ve probably heard of giving away personalized items with your logo. Lots of companies do it because it’s a fairly inexpensive way to get their names out there, and the retention rate is higher than many traditional forms of advertising.

But how do you pick the perfect promo item for your needs?

Giveaways that work for that corner grocer won’t necessarily work for your dry cleaning business, and vice versa. You have to think creatively and know your customers in order to select a memorable giveaway item! Just like you shouldn’t buy your friend a birthday gift he might hate, you shouldn’t buy gifts for your customers unless you have an idea of their tastes beforehand.

Need some help getting started? You’re in luck! Here’s how to begin the process.

Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes. Let’s say you want to give away promo items at conferences or conventions, but you can’t decide on an appropriate product. Start by thinking like a customer who has walked around for hours on end. Would they be more likely to take a heavy, bulky freebie that would weigh down their bag, or do you think they’d be more apt to take a lightweight freebie? Also, think of travelers and out-of-towners who attend conventions. If a promotional item is too large, then it may not fit in their luggage, which means they wouldn’t be able to take it with them.

If you’re going office to office or conducting your promotion from your own store locations, though, then bulkier items won’t be as much of a challenge.

When in doubt, I’d recommend looking into promotional pens. They’re inexpensive, they’re portable, and they tend to stick around forever. Sure, they’re not as creative as other giveaways, but there’s a reason for their popularity! Plus, they come in so many different styles that it’s super easy to find a perfect fit.

Oh, the Weather Outside Is Weather If your promotion is catering to an outdoor event, like a parade or a pub crawl, it’s wise to consider the temperature before choosing a giveaway item. In triple-digit temperatures, you’d be the most popular store on the block if you targeted your giveaways to include battery-operated fans or lip balms with SPF! Similarly, merchandise like ice scrapers or gloves would go over well in colder months.

Expert Tip: Avoid customizing disposable products as your primary prize. Unless you have multiple giveaways to pass out, one-time-use items (like individually-wrapped candies, handy wipes, or non-reusable water bottles) don’t provide much exposure. They’re exciting for a few minutes, but that brand impression goes to waste (no pun intended) as soon as the recipient tosses it into the garbage.

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize…and the Budget. Your customers probably deserve the best for being so loyal through the years, right? Undoubtedly! However, you should always think of your budget first and foremost. As cool as it would be to give a collapsible beach chair to each of your 200 best clients, there may not be room for it in your allotted price range. Don’t feel bad about that.

Remember, it’s okay to splurge once in a while, but you don’t want to get too crazy with your giveaways (especially if you’re new to the art of executing a promotion). Even if you can’t afford to spend more than $300 on gifts, you still have ample giveaway options. Test the waters with a less pricey gift first – like a pair of sunglasses or a multi-function key chain – and then up the ante next time if it’s called for. Rewarding your customers is a good thing, but not if you go out of business doing it!

Truthfully, there’s no true secret for choosing the right promotional products; it’s mostly common sense and a little bit of empathy. You’ll be well on your way if you think like a customer, consider the season and your budget, and ask yourself what you’d want to receive if you were in their position!

What’s your biggest challenge with promotions and giveaways? Do you have any more advice? How do you pick your promo items?


Great tips, Jill! And you’re right; picking the perfect promo item isn’t an exact science. But luckily, just a dash of common sense will put you ahead of the pack.

And personalized pens might not be the most unique item to give away, but along with tote bags they are by far the most useful. People love useful. :)

I think the most difficult part about ordering promotional products isn’t necessary CHOOSING the right product for your audience but deciding WHAT to have printed on said product.

To much info/details; you look desperate and over-promotional.

Two little info/details; people don’t recognize who you are and the brand impression/marketing opportunity is lost.

I’m also a big fan of the one size does NOT fit all approach. When ordering promos for my wife’s salon I ordered travel mugs, acrylic tumblers, logo coasters, and BIC Clic Stic pens. You’d be amazed how many people appreciate an inexpensive pen vs. a high quality tumbler sometimes!

Your comment here, “think of travelers and out-of-towners who attend conventions. If a promotional item is too large, then it may not fit in their luggage, which means they wouldn’t be able to take it with them,” is one I think needs neon lights and arrows pointing to it. From the few conventions I’ve been to, I’m surprised by the number of booths giving out bulky items that are both a pain to carry around all day and pack up in an already heavy suitcase. Keep it light and simple. Pens are easy to toss in a suit pocket or purse and your brand’s name will still build impressions in their mind.

Another awesome post, Jill! I think every business owner or promotional product buyer should read this, great job!

Giveaways are great for promoting your blog, but make sure the product offered is good enough to draw as much attention as possible.

Another point to consider is to have a clear cut goal on what you really want as you plan for the promotion.This will help you design a proper plan and to chanel your resources the right direction for maximum gain

I agree with you on this; empathy is the best way to know what your clients want. After then you will know that your budget for these giveaways would not go down the drain because after all, your consumers will be able to like it!

i really like your point of thinking from customer point of view ,its very important if you want to survive in such a competition

Thanks for the tips Jill.
I’m going to look into getting some dog food can covers for a Pet Safari give-a-away.

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