Businesses that still hand out five-hundred pens as promotional gifts at trade shows should consider an upgrade. Pens are cost-effective, used by everyone, and range in style from vibrant colors to professional quality writing tools. The issue is that they are small, used but not noticed, lost frequently, and only last until the ink runs out. The company logo or name, the branding, or the slogan will rarely be seen. Small promotional items are fun, but may not be providing very little return on the investment. People will come to the company booth at expositions, and may remember the company logo if they like the pen.
Realistically, more people will place that pen into the tote a competitor provided a few booths back, and never notice it again. The competitor will be remembered because the company name and logo is emblazoned in full color across that tote bag. The bag will get more use, and more people will see the logo. They will see it in the park, on the bus, in grocery stores, and around town as people carry the tote to work, shopping, on outings, and during recreational activities. Larger items provide a higher return on the investment because the company logo and name is highly visible. Promotional items that can be worn by customers, such as hats, t-shirts, jackets, and scarves are also highly visible. It is often better to purchase larger items and hand out less of them, than it is to purchase five-hundred pens.
It is easy enough to discover the difference between the size of the promotional item and the return by measuring the outcome. If pens were given at the last trade show, gather the numbers for comparison. Look at the cost of the pens and measure any increases in revenues or customers. Order tote bags, ball caps, or insulated drink holders for the next trade show, and measure any increases in business. This guide can quickly help determine if a higher return was realized. Experienced companies that specialize in promotional items can help with item selection, logo artwork, and printing styles. Try a larger item at least once to see if results are better than they have been in the past.