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Oh goody! It’s a goodie bag!

Corporate gifts, giveaways, promotional items… we all like to receive them (them being freebies of course).

As a marketer or team manager or corporate exec, have you, however ever stopped to really think about how these gifts – especially the gimmicky toys or those items that serve no practical purpose and how they are publicised, may be hurting your brand? It has become a case of ‘don’t judge a book [T-shirt, fidget spinner, sunglasses, you name it] by its cover’ for promotional item decision makers.

That is, the promotional item you are sold on may look fabulous in outward appearance and in theory sound so wonderfully quirky and amazing – but the reality and quality of the promise often runs the risk of being underwhelming and just plain shoddy. Problem is, this is what you have gifted your customers or staff. It is a reflection not only of your brand, but also how you value them.On top of the risks of ‘what’ is gifted, is ‘how’ a promotional campaign is pushed forward. Done wrong, even the most valuable product could be detrimental to your brand.

‘The promotional item and the channels used to reach customers have changed in the digital realm. And so, as in the above risk scenario, it is not only the quality of the product that is gifted that needs great evaluation, but also by what method it is given,’ said Nick Sarnadas, event director for the upcoming Markex 2018 tradeshow at Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery. ‘As a brand, have you considered all the consequences of your promotional campaign? Have you set boundaries? Are you at risk of it all getting to unmanageable and damaging your brand?’

He explained that social media channels have become popular platforms to swiftly spread the promotional freebie word. ‘A hashtag is far cheaper than running a media campaign,’ he pointed out. ‘However, social media can morph into a life of its own and, if a proper strategy is not in place, the short-term excitement can turn into a detrimental disaster in the long term. Just imagine the hashtag, the shares and comments, should you have run out of freebies, or your promotional item not live up to its hype, and no terms and conditions are in place?’

Sarnadas stressed, ‘That said, the promotional item still has a critical place within the marketing mix, but rules need to be adhered for it to garner a positive reputation, a loyal customer and a potential buyer.’He said that the easiest means to judge your promotional campaign and item is to put yourself into your customers’ shoes. Ask yourself, what value do I expect my client to obtain – and vice versa, what value should my brand get from this. That pinpointed value is the ultimate goal from which your strategy, good planning, item inventory and rollout follows. Never lose sight of this value and nurture and protect it, because this value holds both your reputation and the customer experience.

‘Remember, everyone loves a freebie, and promotional items remain hot news – but, the “free” needs to be treated precious.’ Don’t make a costly mistake, visit Markex 2018, Africa’s premier promotional products expo, on 6 and 7 June 2018 at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, where the expo will be celebrating its 31st year of bringing together local resellers with the industry’s best and brightest manufacturers and distributors.

Please visit for details on how to register for the event.

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