8 Ingredients for Awesome Promotional Gifts



promotional gifts

It’s no wonder that promotional gifts for clients are so popular. Promotional gifts are a $2.2 billion industry (PDF) according to the Promotional Products Association International.

Corporate gifts have the power to please clients and prospects by showing you’re thinking of them. Done well, they also make your business more memorable. They help convey what your brand stands for — be it playfulness, creativity, productivity or something else.



I have kept promotional gifts from vendors for years if they were unique. I love them.

Now, I’m not talking about your everyday swag gifts here. There’s certainly a place for simple swag — such as a coffee mug showing your product and a cute saying, or a reuseable tote bag with your brand logo on it. Swag is great for trade show giveaways. I’ve kept simple swag items that appeal to me, too.

But the promotional gifts that really make an impression on me are those that go beyond the standard branded promotional items.

I’ve received some great marketing gifts, and along the way I’ve noticed what makes them stand out. A marketing gift for clients to remember your company by can be distilled down to some concise pointers. When it comes to developing ideas for promotional gifts, consider these eight guidelines:


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1. Create Something Unique

When selecting promotional gifts, the goal is to leave a lasting impression. Everyday items like coffee mugs or notepads, while useful, might not be memorable. Think about the times you’ve received such items.

Do you remember the company’s name on every mug or notepad you have? Probably not. That’s why uniqueness is so crucial. Stand out from the crowd by choosing something that isn’t just another item but a conversation starter.

Explore creative territories and pick something that makes recipients say, “Wow, that’s different!” The right unique promotional item not only captures attention but also solidifies your brand’s image in the minds of recipients.

One of the most memorable promotional gifts I ever received was from Mark Anderson of Andertoons. He created a customized Lego figure of himself at his cartoon drafting table (pictured). I was so impressed, I actually created a video of it, which I’ll show you in a moment. That’s how much it moved me. That’s the sort of uniqueness I am referring to.



promotional gifts

2. Make it Thicker than an Envelope

There’s a different kind of joy in receiving a package compared to a flat letter or an email. A package, no matter how small, brings with it a sense of wonder and anticipation. People naturally get curious about what’s inside, making the unboxing experience memorable.

While heartfelt thank-you notes have their special place, they don’t carry the same aura of surprise.

To make a significant impact with your promotional gift, think of it as more than just an item; it’s an experience. Let your gift offer that delightful suspense which people remember long after.



3. Give the Recipient Something to Do

Gifts that allow recipients to interact are a win-win. Instead of offering something that might just sit on a shelf, why not provide an item that requires some engagement?

Whether it’s a DIY kit, a puzzle, or even a fun gadget, these interactive items tend to be more memorable.

The key is to find something that not only represents your brand but also resonates with the recipients. The longer they spend time with your gift, the stronger the association with your brand becomes.

promotional gifts



4. Make it Relevant

The best promotional gifts tie back to what your business represents. It’s not just about giving away something; it’s about telling your brand’s story.

Consider gifts that align with your business’s services or products, or at the very least, its values. This alignment ensures that every time the recipient uses or looks at the gift, they’re reminded of your brand and its message.

5. Let it Be Creative and Classy

Just because you’re budget-conscious doesn’t mean your promotional gift should look or feel cheap. Instead, aim for a balance between cost and quality.

While you might be looking for an affordable option, the perceived value should be high. Classy and creative gifts can leave a lasting impression, showcasing the care and thought you put into selecting them.



Besides, many corporations have guidelines that restrict employees from accepting pricey gifts. So, aiming for an affordable yet classy item not only fits within such guidelines but also ensures your promotional gift remains in a league of its own.

promotional gifts

6. Include Your Logo

This might seem obvious, but it’s a vital step in any promotional gift. Your logo acts as a silent ambassador for your brand. When incorporating it into your gift, ensure it’s done tastefully.

The logo shouldn’t overwhelm the design but should be visible enough to associate the item with your brand. Over time, as recipients use or showcase your gift, your logo serves as a constant reminder of your company.



7. Pick Something that Lasts

Flowers or a box of chocolates might be a delightful gesture, but they’re fleeting. When selecting a promotional gift, aim for longevity. Items that can be used or displayed for years act as continual brand reminders.

Think about durable and practical gifts that fit into daily routines, ensuring your brand remains top of mind long after perishable gifts have been consumed or discarded.

promotional gifts

8. Put in Special Effort

It’s not always about the price tag. Sometimes, it’s the effort and thought behind a gift that makes it stand out.



Whether you’re personalizing items, packaging them beautifully, or even just selecting something that perfectly aligns with the recipient’s preferences, your effort will shine through.

The more thought you put into your promotional gift, the more value it holds, and the more likely recipients are to remember it—and your brand.

A Great Example of a Promotional Gift

Going back to the example of the Andertoon’s Lego figure, it is clear that the giver spent a lot of time coming up with the concept and customizing it to represent his business.

He spent less than $25 on each gift. In that case, it was more about the creativity and the investment of time, than about spending a lot of money. Recipients were left with no doubt that he put special effort into creating that gift.



Here’s the point. If this is the year to make a splash by giving a memorable marketing gift, follow these eight guidelines. By taking the time to develop something unique and memorable, you serve your business well and honor your loyal customers. You also impress sales prospects.

And you know what else? You and your team will have a great time exercising your creativity and launching a special project.

Sustainability in Promotional Gifts

In today’s eco-conscious world, sustainability in promotional gifts is not just a trend but a necessity. Businesses are increasingly recognized for their environmental stewardship, and choosing eco-friendly promotional items can significantly enhance a brand’s reputation.

Sustainable promotional gifts include items made from recycled materials, biodegradable products, or those that encourage a sustainable lifestyle. For example, reusable straws, bamboo tech accessories, and solar-powered chargers are excellent choices that reflect a commitment to the environment.



Additionally, gifts like seed paper that can be planted after use, or items made from upcycled materials, offer a unique way to show your brand cares about its ecological footprint.

When selecting sustainable promotional gifts, consider the production process, the materials used, and the item’s longevity to ensure it truly aligns with sustainable practices.

Trends in Promotional Gifts

Keeping up with trends in promotional gifts can set a brand apart and show that it is in tune with current consumer preferences and technological advancements.

One significant trend is the rise of tech-driven gifts, such as wireless earbuds, portable chargers, and smart home devices, which cater to the tech-savvy consumer.

Wellness-related items have also gained popularity, reflecting a broader interest in health and self-care; think fitness bands, stress relief gadgets, or branded water bottles.

Moreover, work-from-home essentials like ergonomic mousepads, branded webcams covers, and high-quality notebooks resonate well in today’s remote work culture.

Another emerging trend is personalization, where gifts are customized to the recipient’s interests or names, adding a personal touch that increases the item’s value and emotional impact.

Creative Packaging Ideas for Promotional Gifts

The packaging of a promotional gift plays a crucial role in the overall impression it leaves. Creative packaging can transform a simple gift into an extraordinary experience, enhancing the perceived value and making the unboxing memorable.

Consider eco-friendly packaging options, such as recycled or biodegradable boxes, to align with sustainability trends. Using reusable containers, like cloth bags or wooden boxes that recipients can repurpose, adds to the gift’s appeal and utility.

Interactive packaging, which requires the recipient to engage in a playful or novel way to reveal the gift, can also create a lasting impression.

For a luxurious touch, opt for high-quality materials, elegant designs, or incorporate elements of your brand’s identity into the packaging design.

Customized packaging that tells a story or conveys a message aligned with your brand’s values can significantly enhance the emotional connection with the recipient, making your promotional gift stand out.

promotional gifts

Key Takeaways on Promotional Gifts:

  • Emotional Connection: A good promotional gift can evoke positive feelings and strengthen the bond between the giver and recipient.
  • Swag vs. Memorable Gifts: While swag has its place for trade shows and events, more personalized or unique gifts tend to leave a lasting impression.
  • Examples of Not-So-Memorable Gifts: Everyday items like coffee mugs and post-it pads might be useful, but they often don’t make a strong impression.
  • The Power of Surprise: An unexpected or uniquely tailored gift can elicit a stronger emotional response and be more memorable.
  • Importance of Presentation: The anticipation of opening a package can be an essential part of the gifting experience. It adds an element of surprise.
  • Written Notes: While they aren’t promotional gifts per se, never underestimate the value of a handwritten thank-you note or card.
  • Corporate Restrictions: Always be aware of corporate gift policies. Many companies have restrictions on the value of gifts their employees can accept.
  • Gift with Purpose: A memorable promotional gift is not just about being fancy or expensive. It should reflect the brand and the effort put into selecting or crafting it.

For inspiration and an example of one of the most creative promotional gifts I’ve ever received, check out this video.

Guidelines for Memorable Promotional Gifts

To assist in crafting unforgettable promotional gifts, here’s a quick reference table highlighting the fundamental guidelines for success. This table allows businesses to gauge their gift ideas against these key principles, ensuring the choices are effective and impactful.

No.GuidelineDescription
1.Create Something UniqueTo be memorable, gifts must stand out from the usual.
2.Make it Thicker than an EnvelopePackages create anticipation and excitement.
3.Interactive ElementGifts that require assembly or interaction leave a stronger impression.
4.Relevance to BusinessThe gift should relate or narrate a story about the business.
5.Creative and ClassyCost-effective but doesn't look cheap or generic.
6.Include Your LogoEnsure the business logo is present but not overly dominant.
7.LongevityGifts that last longer, such as non-perishables, are reminders of the business for years.
8.Special EffortReflecting effort, creativity, and thoughtfulness makes a gift stand out, regardless of its monetary value.

OK Hand Gesture Photo via Shutterstock


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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

6 Reactions
  1. Really nice ideas. Sometimes, you really need to think outside of the box if you want your potential customers to notice you. With so many things to take their attention, it is hard to compete.

  2. I like the idea of a gift to clients after a great year but I appreciate something useful. The Lego man is cute but I would not have time to construct it nor is it useful. It would collect dust. Food items/vouchers or event tickets are useful, appreciated and remembered.

  3. Anita: I like the LEGO gift. I will ask Mark if he could put together a podcaster figure! 😉 He had hot sauces back in the day…

    I will have tea as my promotional product in the future. You could have an open teabag and fill it with loose tea leaves and then clips it together. On the string you have a paper note with a promo message! 😉 And if you want to have a long shelf live, put bulk tea in a practical tin with your logotype.

  4. Lego looks great, but maybe a bit immature for somebody that runs a serious business and does not want toys on the table don`t you think?

  5. Being in the promotional products field, I couldn’t agree with you more ! While there will always be a place for the staples of the marketing industry ( pens, mugs, totes)- giving out a custom promo piece that conveys your brands personality speaks volumes and will have a much longer retention factor ! Plus , they are fun for us marketing consultants to come up with 😉

  6. Over here you will get to know about the gift ideas for teacher appreciation week.Here you will get to know in detail about the topic which are in demand. I enjoyed alot while reading this article and would recommend other too.

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