Promotional Products To Stop Buying Right Now

As a veteran promotional products distributor who sells promos nationally (and even some internationally), we are privy to the nationwide trends within the industry before “locals only” distributors.

Another piece of info we are privy too are the promotional items that are WAY overdone. Most of them aren’t even cool products. They are simply run-of-the-mill promos that are purchased due to laziness, lack of thought, and disregard for creativity.

5 Promotional Products To Stop Buying Right Now

Custom KooziesKoozies

If you are buying koozies as general giveaways for clients, STOP IT now! The average person has 7.8 koozies in a drawer in their kitchen (data from a personal survey of my own kitchen drawer which contained 8 koozies with 1 of those koozies missing a piece of the bottom). While koozies have their purpose for events at which you are serving canned drinks, other reasons to give these out these lame products are few and far between.

If you want to give out koozies, opt for cooler versions that are different than a cheap foam version. Less overdone options include burlap koozies, bottle koozies, and two-toned can insulators. If your koozies stand out, maybe they will actually be reused after your event.

Promotional Stress BallsStress Balls

Do you really think most people reach for a stress reliever ball when their stress level builds up? Hell no they don’t. They go for a run, eat a quart of ice cream, or they grab a bottle of beer or glass of wine. So if relieving stress is really what you want to accomplish, give out a fitness tracker, ice cream scoop, or a wine glass.

For select purposes, stress balls can be very useful for physical therapy, however, for the 99% of companies buying them, they have no use besides adding thousands of tons of non-biodegradable waste to land fills. Sure these stress toys are fun to use to beam people in the face, but other than that they are useless and overdone.

Cheap Stick PensCheap Promotional Stick Pens

Why would you EVER waste money on a nasty, cheap stick pen. You know those pens I’m talking about. The uber-low quality pens with the cheap plastic top. The flimsy pocket clip snaps off with the first use. These are the same pens that are prone to bleed ink all over your shirt…yes, your favorite shirt.

I was told by a business owner once that he buys the cheap boxes of stick pens from an office supply store because his customers steal the pens and he continually has to replace them. My answer for that was if you buy custom printed pens, then good if they “steal” them because they are branded with your custom logo. At least you get marketing value from the pens as opposed to leaving a bad experience from a crappy cheap pen.

White C-Handle Coffee MugCustom White Ceramic Coffee Mugs

Really? This is your go to product? The 10 oz diner size ceramic mug is out of date and useless. If you are trying to keep people drowsy in the morning by only allowing them to drink small increments of coffee, then this is the product for you. As overworked as middle class workers are these days, we need larger coffee mugs. Coffee stays hot for a whopping 10 minutes in these tiny, ceramic mugs. Maybe you can also get them a tiny dollhouse to go with this tiny mug. If you want to recreate that nostalgic feeling from a hole-in-the-wall diner you used to frequent as a kid, fine, these will do the trick. However, if you are envisioning a product your clients will use at their desk on a daily basis, just stop it. This product is not the answer.

Instead of ceramic, opt for the vacuum sealed stainless steel mugs which keep coffee piping hot for hours, not minutes. If ceramic mugs are what you want, it’s true that bigger is better. Go with at least a 15 oz size and choose a bold color. And just to clarify, white is not a color. You can find some cool ceramic mugs here. Choose wisely.

Ugly Key Chains

Ugly Key ChainsThat’s right, I said ugly key chains. The ugly key tag that is pictured is only one example of the ridiculously crappy key chains on the market. If you are buying promotional key chains and it’s not one that you would actually attach to your own keys, then move on and find another product. These saddlebag-shaped, plastic key chains are so outdated. You’ll be lucky if 1% of the recipients use this key chain for their keys.

If you want recipients to use the key chains, you must go with a higher quality, metal key ring. When you hold a key chain, it should feel valuable and not like a piece of hollow plastic.

4 Suggestions to Find Better Promotional Products

  1. Talk to a promotional products consultant – The “consultant” word sounds expensive. However, you’ll likely waste more money if you don’t speak with a consultant. In reality, there’s no more expense involved when speaking to an experienced professional who understands the promotional products industry. For a search that would take you hours to thoroughly perform, an industry expert can perform in about 10 minutes. Because we know where to look, industry trends, and have daily experience searching for products, we can save you loads of time and recommend much better options for your needs.
  2. Have a purpose – In order to get the most use of the promos you buy, you must have a plan. What is your goal in giving out the products? What are the demographics for the majority of the recipients? How will you distribute the items? Do you have a follow up plan in place after you give the products out? All of these questions plus others are important to answer BEFORE buying promotional products. An experience promotional products consultant can help guide you through the process to help ensure you get a good return on your investment.
  3. Stay open-minded – When on a quest for promotional giveaways, clear your mind of the boring and overdone promotional items that fill your head. Certainly forget about the items your competitors are doing. Be open to items that are new, unique, and fun. If you give away the lame promos your competitors give away, what does that make you? Come on over to the cool side; we will help you get there.
  4. Buy useful promotional items – Studies have shown that 80% of recipients keep promotional items and continue to use them because they are useful. This seems like common sense, but the cheap items mentioned above continue to be big sellers to the uneducated. You are smarter than that. I know you are.
Patrick Black

Patrick Black, MAS, is the founder of and has been in the promotional products industry helping businesses and organizations since 1999. When not geeking out over the newest and greatest promotional items, you can find him paddleboarding at the beach or hanging out by the pool with his wife, three kids, and his basset hound in Fort Walton Beach, FL.