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Why Promotional Items works!! The Psychology behind the sale!

Okay so…. treat promotional products like that drunken Uncle at a dinner party that no one wants to invite, but everyone enjoys. They are pigeon-holed as a necessary evil that businesses “HAVE TO GIVEAWAY”, but no one really wants to be bothered with.

Yet the promotional products industry rakes in 15 billion pounds annually and if you look around you right now you’ll find at least one item that has the branded logo of a company.

Since George Washington gave out commemorative coat buttons in 1789 to celebrate his presidency, promotional items have been the oldest form of brand advertising companies have used.

But Why do they work so well? Because when you understand the why of promotional products you can strategically harness their power to increase your revenue without breaking the bank.

Have you ever been out and you run a little short on money? What happens when your friend picks up the bill? You immediately start thinking of ways to pay him or her back don’t you?

Or what happens when you are invited to friends for dinner, you automatically look at putting a date in the diary to return the favour. Or when it is a friend’s birthday, they bought you a nice gift on yours, you automatically find yourself buying them one in return.

All these questions centre around one basic human instinct–if we get something, we feel compelled to give something.


Robert Chaldini calls this the principle of reciprocation. Where I am obligated to give back to you, the form of behaviour that you have given to me…remember the dinner invitation and the birthday present!! If you do me a favour, I owe you a favour! And quite simply, people say YES, to those they owe.

The law of reciprocity says that people respond to each other in similar ways. From philosophy to religion, from anthropology to psychology the idea of an “eye for an eye,” or “paying one’s debt,” is so hardwired into our brains that we are literally unable to fight against it.


So when you show up to that networking event and you give a travel mug with your logo to the member of the group who loves their coffee, you make an impression in that persons mind. It is such an impression that research shows he or she will likely buy your product or service.

In the social media age in which consumers expect free stuff all the time you need to choose promotional products that will illicit the reciprocity response. These products should be:

· Useful

· Attractive

· Enjoyable

· Relevant

Reciprocity can work in two ways–

on the consumer that receives the gift and

the consumer that uses the gift and shares it with his or her network.


For the consumer that receives the gift–a functional promotional product could convince them to convert to buying.

For the consumer that uses the gift–the more relevant your promotional product, the more likely the consumer will use it and the more likely other potential customers will see it.

So there is 2 things here…the “convince to buy factor” and the “convince to use factor”.


So let’s take for example a Telecomms company client of mine. A couple of years ago whilst they were still a prospect for me, the whole team were taking part in a charity run, so all of them were doing lots of different things to increase their fitness levels. I had a mock-up done of a branded water bottle (an item which they had never had before) and I handed this to the MD when at a networking meeting that I knew we were both going to be at.

Knowing that fitness was massively on the teams radar at this time, it wasn’t long before I had an enquiry for the water bottles as these had been such a huge hit back at the office later that day. This turned into an order for x 250 bottles (high five).

This was now a client of mine and they were made up with their bottles.

So here I had convinced the client to buy with my gesture, also they turned into a “convince to use client” as they were using their own marketing product. and adding a third dimension to this, I then looked at the nature of their business and being telecoms with lots of cables everywhere, I suggested they may want to look at doing branded velcro cable ties for grouping the cables together. So we put their logo on one end and mine at the other- for a discounted rate.

And as you can imagine, they work in conjunction with a lot of IT companies and I gained 7 orders for those Velcro cable ties off the back of this. Promotional products aren’t just about the person you’re giving them to–they also influence the people in their networks

So by tapping into a direct and current usage for a water bottle, I was able to start to form a relationship with a business that then trusted me to make further suggestions for their business.



So my question to you all is, how are you tapping into your potential clients? How are you putting yourself on their radar and most importantly, how memorable are you….


I would really welcome a conversation with you to help you to explore ways in which we can do this if you feel you need it.



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