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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Nothing Promotes a Business's Image Like Free Stuff


If you want to pump up the volume of awareness about your business, you might want to take a look at handing out swag. It’s got a better return on investment than prime-time TV, radio or print advertising, according to a recent study.

Swag, tchotchkes, freebies — whatever you want to call such giveaways , these logoed pens, T-shirts and other branded ephemera are gobbled up by the billions by trade-show-goers and consumers each year.

Disdain them for being tacky if you like, but they work, according to the Advertising Specialty Institute, which wrapped up its national trade show today (March 24) in New York City. According to the ASI’s latest study of global advertising specialties, promotional products are less expensive per impression than most other media.

The average cost-per-impression (CPI) of an advertising specialty item is 0.5  cents, according to the study. By contrast, the CPI for a national magazine ad is 4.5 cents, for a newspaper ad it’s 2.9 cents, and for a prime-time TV ad it's 1.8 cents.

These promotional handouts also are valuable for leveling the playing field between corporate giants and small businesses, said Timothy M. Andrews, ASI’s president and chief executive.

“Even smaller companies can deliver the kind of high-impact punch enjoyed by multimillion-dollar companies,” Andrews said. “Not only do ad specialties make impressions on everyone who sees them, but messaging is reinforced every time the item is used. No other form of media can allow the advertiser to so closely tie a benefit to the recipient.”

And they are an effective way to curry consumer favor. Four out of 10 U.S. respondents to an ASI survey said their opinion of the advertiser became more favorable if they received a promotional product. And five out of six said they can identify the advertiser on a promotional product they own.

This year’s swagfest featured its own caped crusader, Promo Man, who demonstrated the latest and greatest promotional products. Among the items being showcased were a training kit to teach pet fish to fetch, a ride-on beer cooler, a solar-powered briefcase, pig poppers and scented T-shirts.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.