Some people say that giving away items is the oldest form of promoting or advertising. It is not uncommon to see people queue up for a free scoop of a new brand of ice cream, or a free sample of the latest perfumed fabric conditioner.

Perhaps it is the opportunity of getting something for absolutely free that attracts the customer. Of course, the idea of trying out a new product first before buying it is also alluring. In any case, everybody loves a freebie — and if they like it — then most likely they will also be willing to spend money for it the next time!

It is not enough to give away just about any promotional item, however; it has to be something that is unique, useful, and, memorable.

1. Promotional items should be unique.

Remember the last time you received a simple, plain-colored mug as a gift?  If not, then it is probably sitting comfortably in the drawer with other simple, plain-colored mugs.  Now, how about the self-stirring mug?  Or the mug that changes color when a hot drink is poured into it?  These are the ones you are probably using right now.  Why?  They are interesting and unique.  That is how a promotional item should be — different from all the other items.      

2. Promotional items should be useful.

A ceramic flower pot is certainly pretty to look at, especially when placed on top of a shelf in the living room.  After a while, however, it moves to the back of the shelf, replaced by newer, prettier knick-knacks.  In other words, it loses its value.  In contrast, a mini electric fan may look ordinary, but it is definitely useful.  On a hot summer day, it will be busy whirring away, providing much needed relief to whoever is holding it.  A promotional item should be just like that electric fan — timely, convenient, and most importantly — useful. 

3. Promotional items should be memorable.

Aside from being unique and useful, a promotional item should be memorable.  One way to do this is by customizing or personalizing them.  This does not necessarily mean putting individual names on every single item.  It could mean something as simple as producing a different color item for boys and girls, or printing varying messages that people can choose from.  A good example is Toblerone’s triangular boxes with special “messages” as well as Coke’s “personalized” bottles and cans with different names.  The fact is, people love seeing their own names on a product, as it gives them a sense of ownership and individuality.   

The next time you plan to give away promotional items, you need to ask yourself:  Is it unique?  Is it useful?  Is it memorable?  Once you are able to incorporate all three characteristics into your product, then you can promote it more effectively!