10 Promo Products That Are A Waste of Money

promo products

Take a second and try to count all the free pens you’ve got from trade shows, work retreats, and HR synergy training programs over the years. Now try to remember where those pens are right now. Most of them are probably in an oversized arts and crafts cup or lost in the abyss that is the space between your car seat and the center console.

The moral of the story is that we all have enough pens to hand write an entire encyclopedia set. While this has been true for many years now, pens are still the go to promo product for companies. The reason is because pens are cheap and companies assume everyone will need a pen at some point.

Pens are just one example of bad promotional branding. Here’s our list of 10 promotional products you shouldn’t waste your money on.

  1. Koozies– We all have a drawer or, in extreme cases, a box stuffed to the brim with free koozies. This is a clear sign that everyone else is shoving out koozies, so you should stay away from them. Apart from being a copycat, koozies provide little value to the user. They probably only use it once a week at best and their hand can easily be covering your logo half the time, so brand exposure will be minimal.
  2. Frisbees: Companies assume people love playing with frisbees with their friends and family. When they’re laughing and having a good time, they’ll look down at the Frisbee, see my logo and think, “what a great company,” because they’ll associate my company with the good times. The reality is, the only one catching the Frisbee is the dog. Taking a free Frisbee home is like buying a Bowflex. You think you’ll use it, but it ends up just cluttering the garage.
  3. Click Pens- We’ve touched on this a bit already, but to reiterate, the world is flooded with free pins. Every company gives out pens so you’ll never make a lasting impression with a free cheap pen.  
  4. Candy- Giving someone candy with a branded wrapper is giving them something that will inevitably be a branded piece of trash. After they eat the candy, the wrapper will disappear into the trash and your branding will disappear with it.
  5. Thin Business Cards- You only get one chance at a first impression and handing out a thin, flimsy business card is like giving a weak handshake. This is the one thing a potential customer will remember you by, so make the extra investment in a thick business card.
  6. Stress Balls– Why would you want your customers to think of you every time they’re stressed? Unless you’re in the medical industry, it’s best to avoid giving away branded stress balls. Besides the negative emotional association, most stress balls are kept in a desk drawer where no one can see your branding. In most cases, the only person who will see your logo on a stress ball will be the person you gave it to.
  7. Lip Balm- How many tubes of lip balm have you honestly finished? Lip balm tubes are notorious for getting washed in pants pockets, melting in cars, or just getting lost forever. All three are outcomes you don’t want to happen to your promo items. Secondly, before getting washed, melted, or lost, lip balm tubes spend most of their time tucked away in pockets and purses. This makes it very hard for anyone to see your branding.
  8. Cheap Toys– Little widgets and knickknacks might seem like a fun way to spice things up, but when these toys end up breaking three days after you hand them out, what message does that send about your company? These things end up the trash faster than you think, so why bother?
  9. Tiny Calendars- Everyone already has a tiny calendar, it’s called a cellphone. It might seem like a handy idea to give out calendars for people to keep in their desk or briefcase, but these tiny calendars always end up in the trash.
  10. Lanyards- These are another great example of something that seems really helpful and practical, but is useless in reality. People might use a lanyard while they’re at a conference or tradeshow, but once they go back home the lanyards goes to the trash. 

These promo items will only leave you disappointed and lacking results. Now that you know which promo products to not buy, download our guide to making money with promo products. This guide is a great tool for anyone who wants to maximize ROI with promo products.