How Much Does Swag Really Cost?

  • Jan 6, 2022

By Nancy Gudekunst


If you've purchased promotional swag, you know there is a dizzying array of product options and imprint methods.  How does one choose?  Typically, price is a consideration, especially for first-time buyers.  So how much does swag really cost?

If attention is not given to the selection and use, branded merchandise, aka "swag", can be expensive. There are some preliminary steps to securing a valuable return on investment with imprinted promotional products.  Here is how to avoid buying "throwaway" advertising.


First, get samples before you buy if at all possible.  That is the way to ensure that the item works, is attractive, and will be a quality reflection of the brand.  An agent can help you by recommending products that they are familiar with and have tested.

Trade Show Faux Pas

Years ago I witnessed a shocking “mountain” of keyrings on a fellow exhibitor’s trade show table.  At the end of the show, the "mountain" hadn’t moved.  This promotional expenditure did nothing for the brand as it was not even apparent what the company sold. 

A better method for trade show distribution of swag is to entice your audience with fewer, but high-quality, gifts.  Set up a view of the gift at the back of the booth to gain interest from everyone. Turn your swag into sought-after gifts by only giving it to your most qualified attendees.

Swag Budget

It is important to consider value when choosing your promotional swag.  If the price is the first and only consideration, the promotion could even have a negative influence!  The cheap product is really the most expensive because it neither reinforces your message nor sticks around long enough to be useful.

Have you heard about the inexpensive advertising pen that leaked all over the prospect’s shirt?  This prospect remembered the advertiser, for all the wrong reasons!  A bad experience with an advertiser’s swag can lessen the brand value.  The subconscious thought is “if their pen breaks, what about their products?”

The purpose of promotional products is to ensure a lasting message. Had the advertiser spent a little more or purchased fewer, more expensive pens with the same budget, the recipient would see the company logo long after the interaction. Others would also see the branding.  When the recipient uses a logoed product, an endorsement is implied.

Because your brand will be associated with the swag it adorns – sometimes for many years - it is important to make it the right association.  Ideally, your promotional gift will be in front of your prospect when they are in a position to purchase your product or service.

Your budget doesn’t need to be large – you can buy 1,000 big tattoos for only $300.  Most people like temporary tattoos if the event is right, they are a phenomenal way to get people to interact with your brand!

Sales Agents

Using an experienced agent is a wise investment – it will save you time and can ensure a smooth progression during the customization process.  The Account Managers at MARCO Ideas Unlimited can recommend products based on your logo image, theme, audience, timeline, and budget.  We know which manufacturers will come through with flying colors to meet your deadlines with quality products your audience will love!

An agent can also help you think outside of the box with creative ideas that will resonate with your target audience. It’s not just the product that can be creative – the messaging on the product, the way it is distributed, and multi-tiered programs come to light when working with an experienced professional

Sales Specialists

Our Sales Specialists are familiar with available options that will pertain to your audience.  Giving important prospects something they will love and use endears them to the brand.  A good promotional company has the integrity to back up its brand.  For instance, should something go awry with your order, you can count on MARCO Ideas Unlimited to make it right.

If you are looking for quality products within your budget, contact the professionals at MARCO Ideas Unlimited for unique ideas to reach your target audience.



Since the mid-90's, Nancy Gudekunst, MAS, has been the 2nd generation owner of MARCO Ideas Unlimited, an Oregon family business founded in 1959. Nancy's years of experience help cut through the clutter of swag options with creative ideas that achieve goals. Certified as a WBE and DBE.


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