So you’ve got a big event or expo coming up and you need to decide what type of promotional merchandise you’re giving away to all your prospective customers. 

You could take the time to carefully consider your audience, your products and your services, the type of event you’re attending, and the most relevant merch that will cement your brand in the minds of your prospects. 

Or you could give that up for a lost cause. Too much effort. Because all you really need to know is that people love free stuff. The more free stuff the better, whatever it is.

Who cares about target audience demographics, event statistics, customer psychometrics and any other blah blah figure. Boring. Just throw some free pens on your table, chuck some stress balls to passers by and you’ll be golden. 

It’s super easy to get your merch sorted with these top tips. 

1. The more random, the more effective

Tech company giving away technology, like USB drives and wireless charging pads? YAWN. Estate agent offering home improvement tools, like tape measures and paint brushes? Boring. 

No-one wants merch that relates to your brand or industry. Too practical. Where’s the thought or fun in that? If you want your products to inspire and delight, go random. As random as you can think. 

Got a gaming company? A branded teapot is just what your players want. Promoting the latest cutting edge software? Nothing says innovation and forward-thinking like a pair of personalised gardening gloves. 

2. Go big or go home

All those prospects coming to your event want freebies. They want something they can take home and show off, the spoils of victory for spending the day wandering around a trade show. 

Size matters. The bigger the pen, the bigger the win. So ditch the normal sized stationary and get the giant varieties. 

Better still, anything that you can fit in a bag or carry in one hand should go out the window. Choose the biggest product you can find – 6ft inflatable beach balls, XXXL t-shirts, 10 gallon mugs and wall calendars the size of an entire house. 

Because if you’re going to do something, do it properly, right? Your prospects will always remember staggering home with massively oversized items, and your brand will always be front of mind when customers have to navigate around a giant beach ball and 10 ft tall wall calendar every day. 

3. Confuse and complicate 

A pen for writing with, and a notebook for writing in… sure, they’re practical. But where’s the fun in that? They’re too traditional. Powerbanks to keep phones charged? Cable Tidy’s to tidy cables… too simple, too obvious. 

Your prospects shouldn’t have any use for your promotional merch. They shouldn’t look at it and think “ooh that’s handy, that’s useful.” If they do, you’ve missed a trick. 

You want them to pick up your branded freebie and think “What the heck is this? I have no idea what to do with it?” 

So for that next construction expo, give away a mini make-up set. For the convention of librarians, hand out customisable xylophones. 

The longer they wonder when they could use a branded beach towel in a business meeting the better your branded merch. 

4. Seasonality is overrated 

‘Match your products to the season’, they say. ‘Tailor your gifts to the weather’, they suggest. But no, that’s just too practical – see point three. 

Everyone knows that at an event in the middle of summer, it’s the furry body warmers that will be in demand. That and the Santa hats. No-one wants practical sunglasses, cooling fans or baseball caps. 

Save those for the winter trade shows, and instead invest in fleeces, gloves and scarves, all emblazoned with your logo. It shows you’re ahead of the game, always forward thinking. 

5. Bin your budget 

So your boss has given you a budget for your promotional merch? Well that’s merely a suggestion – they’re expecting you to blow it all (and then some) on a mountain of merch. 

Budgets are just for the penny pinchers in finance. And ROI? This isn’t about reach, or sales, or any other kind of silly figure like that. It’s about giving away the biggest, bestest freebies. 

The thrill of handing out merchandise is the only return we’re looking for here. 

Who needs market research when you’ve got glow-in-the-dark frisbees?

While glow-in-the-dark frisbees do sound incredible, let’s be serious for a second. Are they really what your audience wants? 

Will they really be valued by your customers? Will they build your brand’s reputation and encourage loyalty? 

Probably not, no. 

If you want your branded merch to be effective, you need to put the effort in (or let us do all the hard work for you). 

You need to make sure promotional products are: 

  • As relevant as possible
  • Useful and long-lasting
  • Something that resonates with your target audience
  • On brand, on budget

Sure, it’s important to stand out, but remember that simplicity and practicality often work best.

Take the time to think about what works…. But have a little fun too. Just remember to make sure any product you pick is high-quality. Durability and useability matters.

And if you need help finding the right branded merch…. Just get in touch

We know how much brand matters.