What Makes a Promotional Product “Keepable”

  • Jul 9, 2020

By Tom Gudekunst


Growing up, I spent years going to tradeshows with my mom and Grammy and around the office. I have been working in the promotional products industry for the last fifteen years. From my experience, I have developed a pretty good understanding of why people keep certain promotional items. I’d like to share that information with you.


Everyone loves a useful item.  Pens and sticky notes might be useful in the office but if your target demographic are runners, those items won’t be as helpful.  Your running audience would rather have a belt reflector or a cooling towel, maybe a water bottle or some sunglasses.

Providing an item that will be useful to your audience is key. No matter how much money you spend on a promotional product, if it doesn’t fit the audience, the money is wasted. (Read more about the importance of CPI here).


A high-quality item will always be more valuable to your audience than something inferior.  I often get requests for “The cheapest pen you have” and I sometimes cringe. Associate your brand with quality and consider getting something a little nicer. For instance, we have a laser eye surgery client who instead of purchasing an inexpensive pen, spends almost $3 per unit.   We have been told that these pens are coveted by their clients and I must say that they are very nice. The smooth writing and nice look add to the value of this pen.

You may also choose to gift your best clients with a higher dollar value item. For example, this speaker can print with a full-color photo hiding your logo subtly in the background. We used a photo of Mount Hood to make sure the speaker was attractive, but also included our logo, printed in transparency, floating above the lake. See for yourself.



Sometimes people like to keep a product just because it’s cute, fun, or otherwise attractive!  Check out our donut pens… the pen works well, it’s got a nice cartridge and heavyweight in the hand, but the rubbery donut-shaped topper is the pièce de résistance! I have handed this out and everyone has asked me for a second one or told me how much they love it. These have nothing to do with our business but I know they are being kept and used. Our URL is getting out there because we chose to brand this pen, and people are holding on to it because it’s cute, colorful, and works well.  The price point isn’t bad either!

Taking this same idea to apparel and uniforms; you could take any hat and simply apply your full corporate logo to the front panel.  Since most people will not want to wear a hat that simply has a corporate logo on the front, use the icon alone to appeal to a wider audience.  Take your hat from this: MARCO Ideas Unlimited Hat to this:MARCO Ideas Unlimited hat

Let us sew custom printed tags on the inside band so the recipient can always remember where they got it. The hat on the right is both more attractive and more wearable since it doesn’t scream a brand name. 

Making sure the items you choose to promote your brand are keepable is very important.  This is a great opportunity for your customer to build a lasting memory of and connection with your brand. Not to mention if it’s being used then the chances of it being seen by others are high. Talk to your promotional consultant to ensure your swag is likable and retained.

Tom Gudekunst has helped organizations purchase promotional products since 2005.  He achieved his Certified Advertising Specialist designation in 2012.  He enjoys spending time with his family, including two cats, two chickens, two children, and his wife.


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