When you’re putting together a strong marketing strategy, it’s definitely worth considering making a plan for some products that help with promotion. Buttons, stickers, custom shirts, and similar items can be leveraged to get the word out there. However, it’s important to understand that it won’t do your brand much good to put your logo on everything available. Instead, you need to be thoughtful about what sorts of items get your stamp of promotion, and you need to ensure that these products are both functional and practical. There’s nothing wrong with putting out a few fun things every now and then, but it’s the smart, useful products that stick around, and it’s those very products that will continue to act as advertisements for your brand.

The Marketing Strategy Standpoint

Anyone who works in the corporate world has come across promotional products at some point in their career. Think of the last business conference you attended — did you receive a swag bag full of branded items? Those are all products that other companies have strategically selected and paid to get into your hands. It’s a smart move in terms of a marketing strategy; not only does it get your brand’s name out there, it offers people free stuff, and people love free swag — particularly if they can use it again and again.

In fact, it’s that hope for longevity that drives a lot of promotional products. You’ll see a lot of things like pens, notepads, magnets, and keychains, specifically because they can be used and tend to hang around for a long time. Certain products never stop being promotional — which is something to keep in mind when you’re putting together your product order.

Let’s talk about effectiveness. Here are two enlightening statistics, courtesy of the Huffington Post: 53% of consumers use a promotional product at least once a week, and 85% of consumers do business with the company that they received the products from. With these figures in mind, it’s obvious that your promotion shouldn’t include cheap or poorly made items that will fall apart after one use.

How to Use Promotional Products Smarter

Say you’ve got a booth at a trade show and you want to put some free products out to boost traffic. The first thing you should think about is your audience, and what kind of products they’d find beneficial. Branded pens and notebooks are always good for conferences and conventions (always handy for note taking during panels), as well as keychains or coffee mugs. Be creative and imagine what sorts of items could linger in a cubicle or corporate office. The more your logo is on display, the more that arm of your marketing strategy will succeed.

Another smart move: Offering high-quality products. Instead of getting a plain white t-shirt printed with your brand’s logo, make creative, custom shirts to distribute that will lead people back to you for more. In other words, make them unique and wearable — not something that will be stuffed in the back of a closet and never worn again. Work with your company’s creative brains to come up with a memorable and fun message that you can use on the shirts.

If you’re thinking smaller, you’ll want to offer something that stands out in a sea of trinkets that show up in swag bags and at trade shows. Do a quick brainstorm to figure out what kinds of promotional products you and your team have picked up in the past, and then try to come up with similar ideas. Are you trying to attract individuals who might travel a lot for work? Then hand out branded luggage tags. Does your target market happen to love beer? Why not give them their own 32 oz. growler? (That one may not fit in a swag bag but you get the idea.)

It’s also great if you can think of promotional products that align with your brand and its message. If you can tie in your products with your promotion (i.e. toiletry bags to advertise your hotel) , it’s even more likely that your brand will be remembered.

Think Creatively

If you’re concerned that you aren’t getting your brand out there enough, promotional products are the way to go. Whether you’re offering custom shirts to loyal customers — who will then hopefully show them off on a regular basis — or putting out creative pens and notepads at conferences, it all ties into a solid marketing strategy that can help keep your brand top of mind for years to come.