Worst Promo Products: Do You Make These Mistakes?

How to distinguish a product that will cause a zero response and attract no customers? We have made a selection of real cases and recommendations for you that illustrate the most common promo product failures.

One product rises, the other fails. This framework is natural and concerns all the product types. Promotional products despite their peculiar nature are not an exception. Really, that’s enough to say that plenty of pens, T-shirts you have got from branded companies have long gone to the trash. How to distinguish a product that will cause a zero response and attract no customers? We have made a selection of real cases and recommendations for you that illustrate the most common promo product failures.

The Role of Promotional Products for Your Business
Companies and organizations choose to share promotional products because of their profound customer engagement effect. They are used to establish a brand and company recognition instead of selling something. Still, choosing the right promotional products gives numerous advantages making such a campaign pretty profitable, including:

Brand recognition. People that acquired a promo gift are most often remember the name of the company or a project advertised.
Improved impression. Having received a free gift which can also be useful in a daily life people feel appreciated.

Trusted advertising. Conventional ads are usually filtered by customers as they are too widespread and of a low quality nowadays. While seeing a friend and/or a colleague having a thing with a logo one may feel curiosity and pay attention. If one may mind an ad on the website, this way of attention-grabbing is high-efficient.

Frequent reorder. Some of the promo products are given to the user so that they could try a new stuff for free. It works just like the puppy-dog close: when the user owns something or got used to some comfort level they most likely wouldn’t refuse it paying their money just to continue the usage.

Overall, free takeaways make users feel like they closed a good deal once with your company. The use vs price correlation tips the scales in your company’s favor. Next time the customer will need a product from you, they would remember your attitude and value fairness.

Why Does Promotional Products Fails Happen?
Using promo products in the campaigns isn’t a guarantee of the success. The success of a promo campaign is influenced both by the internal characteristics of the product and by external factors indirectly related to the product.
Internal traits of a product include what the product is, where it can be used, whether it is convenient to use, how often the customer needs to apply this product, etc. However, it is important to understand that not only the product itself and its qualities affect the promo effect. It is also necessary to mind the context of the situation in which a person receives this gift, the appropriateness of such a gift, public opinion, political, social situation, and so on. As you can see, there are many things to think about before launching a batch of promo goods for manufacturing.

Top 10 Promotional Products That Are Close to Failure
Taking into account both the value and the context of a situation, we gathered the universal promotional product choices that will never be successful. Look closer at promotional products that are to fail by default:

10. Personal Hygiene Products
Fancy a toilet paper with a logo of some company. Does it add value to the company? We’re sure that you give a negative answer. That’s why hygiene products should not be the first thing you think of when choosing a product for a promo. However, there are also exceptions considering the context: if you are a dentist, for example, a toothbrush can be a good example how to offer a customer promo product bringing real value and causing gratitude.

9. Products That Get out of Shape or Wear Away
The reason is similar to the ban on the personal hygiene products use in a promotion campaign. When the product with your logo spoils, it undermines your company’s reputation and evokes a contemptuous attitude towards it. You would better avoid such promo products types.

8. Religious Products
All religious or holy artifacts can cause promotional product campaign fails in two ways. Either the fact of their usage will dishonor the feeling of believers, or will significantly limit the pool of your clients. Both variants seem to be not the best option to have. Such products can possibly be useful only for those companies, which are directly related to religion and faith. Anyway, be careful mixing the secular and spiritual.

7. Politics-Related Products
Using politics-related products in your promo campaign is as much dangerous as the religious ones. These products will surely be fun or appreciated with certain groups of customers but will be offensive to the others. Still, the context makes a difference, so if you feel like your customers would appreciate this, give it a try.

6. Products That Present a Danger to Health
This type is quite natural and is prohibited regardless the situation context. Even if you offer extreme sports or entertainment, give up the idea to use anything that can harm your client. Things like fireworks should be erased from your list, as nothing is valued higher than the human’s life.

5. Defective and Unreliable Products
Don’t associate your company’s name with poor quality products. This association will soon be too tough to defeat. Remember that your promo product is your face and an attitude to the customer, so it should be flawless. Make the product reliable and durable, not useless and broken.

4. Disposable Products
This one directly refers to the previous type. The longer the product would serve the user, the more benefit it will bring to the company. That’s because the user remembers about your organization for a longer time and more people can see them using it. For this reason, companies often use bags and flash drives for a promo, as they are visible to a large number of people for a long time, and their quality does not deteriorate. Cupcakes with the logo? No, thanks.

Food will be eaten and forgotten, better go with sustainable products. Photo by Brooke Lark

3. Offensive Products
Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons for promotional product fails in the market. What is funny for you easily hurts feelings of someone else. Remember this simple rule while considering the usage of controversial products in your promo campaign. Despite it may seem such products attract great attention to the company, event, and so on, usually they cause more trouble than use.

2. Irrelevant Products
One should consider carefully the audience, the context, and the goals of the campaign before creating handout products. Think about what product can be useful for your clients, not you, or related to the company’s activities before considering another business card that transforms to a knife or something alike.

1. Promo Without Customer’s Targeting
You don’t need to take a hatchet to break eggs. Starting a promo products campaign without knowing your customers would be the real waste of time. The users should feel that you thought about them when created the product. To a great extent, the choice of a product should be inspired by the findings of the audience research.

Top 3 Promotional Product Fails
Well, we have just looked at the bad practices of promotional products choices. One may ask, where are the real examples? For you, we made a small selection of total failure cases of the promotional products campaigns.
#1 Too Cool to... Do Drugs
At-Risk Youth once started an anti-drug promo campaign while sharing free pencils with students. The printing on their verges is quite exact and educating: “Too cool to do drugs”. The only thing that messed up the whole idea is the way how each pencil works down. After some time when pencils were in active use, the printings were reduced to “Cool to do drugs” and even “Do drugs”. Sure, that wasn’t the message these pencils should convey to young people.

#2 Ornaments With Catnip
We all know how do cats adore Christmas trees. So, why don’t infuse some ornaments with a catnip to please them even more? Such a promo campaign is sure to fail: if the mood of the holiday is destroyed, so is your brand recognition.

#3 Chocolate Medal Made of Titanium
This is an example of a silly and dangerous object at the same time. When proposing your friends to try a usual chocolate coin or medal they can simply break their teeth and hate the company which started the manufacture of such silly items. Is such a joke worth your company’s reputation? Think twice.
How to Avoid Making Failed Promo Products?
Sure, making a campaign fail is easier than establish a long good-working practice. Despite this all, one can go through the next steps to ensure not making the most common mistakes:
Set an aim. What is...
- the purpose of your campaign?
- the budget?
- the idea?
Closely considering the aim of your campaign you’ll be able to clearly see what matches it or not. For example, if you want to get new customers and sales, you should not use the same approach as if you needed to increase an engagement rate of your company’s employees.

Make a research. Starting the campaign one will require making many insights about the audience, common practices, existing product options, and the competitors. Also, you might be curious about common reasons of promotional items fails. It’s okay if you give your customers pens with the company’s logo and your competitor does the same. But in a modern world it’s getting harder to surprise and satisfy the client, so you might want to consider unique or deeply customized products.

Making a research is crucial for the promo campaign success. Photo by Nik MacMillan

Think about recipients. When creating a product for people, think about these people, feel their pain and look for a solution. The best method for choosing a promo product is to think like your customer. Imagine your customer is you. What would you like to use? Is there any connection to the company? Such an approach will give you a chance to think out a really valuable product and, additionally, consider the ways how this channel will work and attract new customers and/or sales.

Make a trigger. The main element, which brings promo products into action, is a trigger. So, your product should be bright, surprising, delighting, shocking - the only purpose: make a client remember your company. Sooner or later, they would recall this name and be interested in using your services.

Get a feedback. Selecting the right promotional products strategy on a hunch is impossible. Make your move and listen what your customers say. While chasing their satisfaction you should work out the strategy that will lead you to success.

How to Choose the Promotional Product for Your Success?
The choice of the product itself should be made according to the purpose. That’s why we need to recall four main purposes for which companies decide to apply promo products. Namely, they are:
- Trade show promotion or events - up to 66 percent of cases;
- Customer recognition - up to 52 percent;
- Sales incentives - up to 37 percent;
- Employee engagement - up to 27 percent (source).

If you plan to use promo products on events, choose something unusual, leaving a strong impression and able to store cheerful memories. Correspondingly, if you decide to increase employee engagement through this, better choose objects that can be useful in the corporate life.

How to Place Your Logo on a Promotional Product?

Photo by imgix

Well, if you have chosen the product, there is another step to get things done. Placing a logo is the purpose of why we need the product, and its inappropriate placement is one of the most frequent reasons for promotional product failure. Mind the next thoughts to avoid problems with the company’s logo:
- Ensure the logo is visible. The logo or a promotional sentence should be visible not only to the product owner but also for other people. It’s no use of a product that has no visible link to a company, at least, for the company itself. So, don’t waste your money on those products that have a logo in the place inaccessible to a wide range of people.
- Consider what will be with the logo after some time. If you want to choose a soap, rethink it. Your logo soon ceases to be visible even for an owner, so the company’s name will be no longer seen.
- Could it be easily removed? It's better to choose products where the logo can’t be removed without destroying the product. People don’t like to show others they use free handouts, it seems like they have no money to buy them. Make your logo a sign of prestige, like Apple, or make it irremovable otherwise.
- Does it discredit your company’s reputation? Some placements of the logo can diminish the company’s reputation. Try to avoid any possible silly interpretations of your product. Otherwise, you risk to put the company in an awkward position and get an undesirable attention.
- Does it affect the value of the promo product? There is no use to think about trinketry with your logo, as it wouldn’t have any value to the customer. If they wouldn’t use it, nobody would see your logo, and the customers themselves would not appreciate such a gift even for free.

How Not to Make Your Promotional Product Fail: Takeaways
Usually, great ideas lead to a great success. We’re sure there are many ideas that can bring customers loyalty and revenue to your business. Promo products are a profound way to multiply the value you can derive from your regular activities. So, don’t waste a minute, try and implement the tips we conveyed in this article to boost your brand, event, or product recognition.

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