Custom-branded apparel and accessories are a great way to build brand awareness, but getting tasked with ordering it can be overwhelming. After all, that wasn’t in your job description, was it? Worry not. Get the custom swag that’ll send your company image soaring—and impress the boss in the process.

1. Clarify your business goal.

First and foremost, figure out the primary objective for the promotional products. Your business goal will govern your budget, your product choices, and your target audience, so it’s important to determine it right away.

Some possible business goals for the swag:

  • Create an “excuse” for sales reps to visit customers
  • Assure customers have company contact info in a convenient location
  • Keep the company name within arm’s reach of potential customers
  • Boost employee morale or promote company culture or values
  • Create brand awareness and customer loyalty

2. Understand your target audience.

Who do you plan to give the promotional items to? How many people will receive them? Different types of products work well among different audiences.

For example, a branded baseball cap might be a great idea to give existing customers or employees, but it might be too expensive to order hundreds of them for a trade show or networking event.

Alternately, if the items are being used as awards or sales prospects, going cheap might be viewed as a bad thing. The product should fit the audience, so identify the audience accurately.

3. Determine your timeline.

The next step is to get clear on how much time you have to pull everything together.

Do you need these products for an event next month? Or for a trade show later this week?
Almost everything can be expedited, but turn times can dramatically impact price and even product availability.

Get a realistic sense of your timeframe so that you can obtain the most realistic information possible from your vendors.

4. Identify your budget.

It’s common not to have a firm budget for promotional items. Instead of asking your boss for an overall budget, try asking what the target spend is per person instead of for the entire order.

If you’re not getting anywhere asking for a per-person budget, try throwing out some numbers to gauge reaction. You might have to do a little homework on item cost before asking, just to get a ballpark feel.

  • “Does $XX sound like a reasonable upper limit to you?”
  • “What’s the total out-the-door cost you’re looking to not exceed?”

5. Identify your quality standards.

In some cases, it might be easier to begin with your quality goals and then work backward to your cost.

Look at the materials the products are made with—not just the cost. While low cost products sometimes give an illusion that they are cheaply made, that is not always the case. Check for product reviews as well to determine what others thought of the quality.

Your target audience will likely play a role in determining your quality standards as well. 

6. Think about unique or unusual products that make sense for you.

You can have your company logo put on just about anything these days, so coming up with unique ideas that will impress your target audience is important for making a lasting impression. Look for products that reflect your company culture, segment, or product/service offerings.

Browse an online catalog of promotional items. Spend a good amount of time weighing your options so that you can find a product that will truly produce the most bang for your marketing buck.

Search TKM’s catalog of swag items here.

7. Work with a promo rep.

The promo industry has changed a lot in recent years. It is easy for anyone to search catalog offerings and purchase promotional products online.

However, working with a promo rep will take your experience to another level. TKM has promo reps that will guide you through all steps of the ordering process—including the steps listed above. They’ll be your face-to-face contact that’ll ensure you get great products at the right price point that make the best impression on your target audience. Consider your promo rep your mentor in all things swag.