Case Studies Merchandise

What Promotional Products are people buying during Coronavirus?

I thought it would be useful to share what Promotional Products people are buying during the Coronavirus lockdown as these are such a powerful marketing tool to communicate with customers and employees during lockdown.

It is easy in this unprecedented crisis to batten down the hatches, shut the doors, turn off the phones and walk away. But while this situation won’t end quickly, it will end, and the challenge for us all in business is to try to ensure our business survive this storm.

In looking for inspiration I only need to review the actions of some of our customer & supplier base, to draw strength from their fighting spirit, resourcefulness, ideas and creativeness.

With my team furloughed, below is some of the promotional products enquiries & design ideas that I have been processing over the past week. I hope it gives you a little food for thought as to how you too can communicate with your staff and customers and effectively Keep in Touch.

Much of our sector has started selling PPE products, I’m not particularly comfortable with that, I don’t believe I am an expert, I don’t fully understand the regulations and I don’t have a history with a supply chain.

Hand Sanitiser

One promotional product we have always sold which has of course exploded in demand is Hand Sanitiser. A month a go as soon as stock landed it was sold before I could get an email posted!

Things are a little calmer, a bit like stock piling at the supermarkets, the supply chain has caught up and you can now buy Hand Sanitiser fairly easily.

We have this UK made sanitiser available, comes in a 50ml bottle and is available either with a genric label or with a bespoke digitally printed label. MOQ is 100 bottles are the lead time is 7-10 working days.

Image of a bottle of Hand Sanitiser with a bespoke printed label, a really useful & valuable promotional product during Coronavirus

Face Masks

Another product that is related to PPE but not specifically tested as such is Face Masks.

Sustainable and washable Face Masks made from cotton or polyester as opposed to single use varieties are being requested.

Face Masks are quite common on the news reporting from Far East Asian countries, historically fighting pollution but I see these becoming as common as wearing a hat in the UK. Providing us and the people we come into contact with a little protection from airborne droplets etc.

There are options for printing through dye sublimation and creating almost a fashion piece, I see corporates being able to dye masks to their corporate colours, maybe use tie-dye effects to create something that is on-brand without it maybe being a logo over someone’s mouth & face!

At the moment it is a small cottage industry of machinsts turning their equipment to supplying the front line NHS but I foresee this sort of thing will become mainstream and some manufacturers and printers within the promotional product industry are looking into product development.

Image shows a dye sublimation printed bespoke face mask, , a really useful & promotional product to protect during Coronavirus

Moving away from PPE, what other products are we seeing being requested and developed within the promotional product sector?

Promo Product Ideas

We have processed orders for Chocolates & Hand Creams as thank yous for front line NHS and Care Home workers.

A great idea for Home Workers which we quoted yesterday was for bespoke printed Yoga Mats. We have options for either a mat supplied in a printed drawstring bag, or if budgets allow for a full colour, full 100% coverage bespoke printed yoga mat with no limitation in colour or design.

Company messaging regarding wellbeing, a thank you, an image all staff members can relate too could be applied.

Available from just 20 pieces I thought this was a fabulous gift for house bound office workers encouraging them to stay healthy. Maybe even a 3 month subscription to an online class could be offered too.

Image of a bespoke printed yoga mat that makes a great gift to home workers during the Coronavirus shut down

Social Distancing Messages

Social Distancing, much like furlough, are new words to my dictionary, and once lockdown is released a key requirement and directive from the Government will be that we maintain our Social Distance.

Another product that is being ordered in preparation for the unlocking of employees and hopefully some social interaction is printed clothing & workwear with Social Distance messages.

Image shows printed t-shirts a promotional product that communicates social distancing during the Coronavirus
Image shows printed Hi Viz Jackets a promotional product that communicates social distancing during the Coronavirus

If you would like to see other examples of some of the pre-printed designs we have come up with please email me.

Of course the Social Distancing and Coronavirus messaging isn’t unique to clothing and clients are being creative with the artwork they are asking us to print to their promotional merchandise.

While it is harder to send promotional gifts to clients that are furloughed or working from home, many clients have taken the opportunity to either send gifts promoting wellbeing and recognition to their staff at their homes, or we have seen enourmous generosity through clients sending gift packs to frontline NHS staff.

Some design ideas for Covid-19 related merchandise include Keep Calm and Keep Distance, Heart Shape messages for the NHS and the hashtag #WFH

Image shows a range of promotional products that communicate messages to staff and customers during the Coronavirus

The following designs have all been created to make it easy for us to personalise product & clothing to help you deliver your message to employees or customers, each can be tweaked to your own brands as required.

Image shows a range of promotional messages that can be printed onto promotional products and clothing that communicate messages to staff and customers during the Coronavirus

Promotional Products are a powerful marketing tool at any time of year, but right now, during this unprecedented pandemic maintaining lines of communication with employees as well as customers is crucial for long term survival. I hope the above provides some inspiration for your next marketing campaign!

#StayHome #StaySafe


Want to get noticed? Try lumpy direct mail.

With email open rates consistently falling, direct mail, the physical through the letter box stuff can be the only way to get a message read, and lumpy direct mail is the addition of a product into the mailing that makes it that bit ‘lumpy’ and therefore creates a bit of interest and excitement for the recipient.

The On-line Crowd

People often describe on-line media such as twitter, facebook, google+ as networking rooms where people are just shouting louder and louder trying to be heard, but still everyone is climbing over themselves to get into this room, apparently it’s the in-place!

The Off-line Space

I have a different idea, let’s swim upstream, do something different, you want to get noticed? I recommend you try lumpy direct mail which still very much has its place within the marketing mix.

Email marketing is much the same, my inbox has a constant stream of emails from suppliers, wannabe suppliers and spammers vying for my attention, and unless the headline happens to grab my attention, in the bin it goes.

Do you know how much physical mail I received today?

Nothing, not one piece of mail landed on my desk, I wonder how much you received? What’s the ratio of sales & marketing emails received to Direct Mail, and if done well then the below cartoon may just ring true.

The key is obviously Direct Mail done with thought, not just a letter and leaflet, but a well considered marketing piece, using lumpy mail– the sort of mail that provides intrigue due to its size, shape, bulk and rewards the recipient on opening with a little gift.

Here at Sussex we use various forms of direct mail, we mail mugs filled with chocolate, we send catalogue packs filled with goodies, we send newsletters and at Christmas and Easter we often send promotional gifts to our customer base.

Why use Lumpy Mail?

At the minimum it acts as a marketing touch, a reminder to our point of contact, but at its best and most effective we send a useful promotional product to a customer who is (1) grateful and (2) whatever gift we have sent lasts for months and acts as a little reminder of us, subliminally if on the desk top acting as a constant advert and puts us at arms reach for when we are needed next.

Such product ideas we have used include individually personalised desk top calendars, printed mugs with chocolate, coasters, chocolate Santas and printed sticky notes.

Each item, the product, the product colour, the printed message etc have all been carefully considered for the market.

When was the last time you sent your customers a little reminder by post? 

For help and ideas to find the right product to deliver your message to your market please get in touch, we’ll be happy to help, call the team 01273 493618.


The best Promotional Products Distributor, how do you choose?

With so many companies to choose from, how do you choose the best Promotional Products Distributor? A company with hundreds of Five Star Reviews who have won industry related awards has to be a good start!

The PAGE Partnership

The PAGE Partnership is one of the industry’s oldest and most respected catalogue groups. Sussex Promotions is one of its 40 members & has been for over 10 years.

PAGE survey all its members annually to establish who are the best suppliers to the group. In return, all suppliers are surveyed to see who they consider are the best Promotional Products Distributors.

The Page Partnership catalogue is 170 pages, with over 1400 of the latest promotional products, business gifts and promotional clothing items on display.

Sussex Promotions customers are offered a new catalogue each June or have the option of seeing the entire product range online through the website.

Award Winning

We were absolutely delighted to be presented the Silver Distributor of the Year award at this year’s annual dinner in June, in the £1 – £3M turnover category.

Suppliers are asked to judge distributor’s on their professionalism, team knowledge, systems, payment record and feel good factor.

Our Barometers

For us here at Sussex Promotions there are two barometers measuring how we are performing. First how our customers view us and second how our suppliers measure us:

  1. our Customers are asked to complete a survey after ordering which is collected by The results can be found here.
  2. the Page survey lets us know how our Suppliers see our team acting

We have a customer rating of 4.90 from 340 reviews on

Andrew Nash, Managing Director, says “for our suppliers to endorse us as one of the country’s leading promotional products distributors through the PAGE survey is just fantastic.

As the AVIS car rental campaign of 1963 suggested, coming second to Hertz, We Try Harder!”

AVIS Advert 1963, we try harder to be the best promotional products distributor.

Still looking for the best Promotional Products Distributor?

From a sales team with years of experience and ideas. A design team who will inspire. An award winning customer service team, you’ve found the needle in the haystack! Please give us a try, experience for yourself why Customers and Suppliers consider us to be one of the country’s best. Call us, 01273 493618.


Choosing the right Promotional Products.

How do you go about choosing the right Promotional Products for your campaigns ?

More often than not customers tell us which promotional products they are wanting quotes for, which is absolutely fine, but I do ask my sales teams to ask if you are choosing the right Promotional Products?!


Because…. “you don’t know what you don’t know!”

Who is the expert?

At Sussex Promotions we take a lot of calls for 500 cheap printed pens, or 100 printed mugs, or stress balls or embroidered polo shirts but these requests are typically based on what that the customer knows.

The requests are based on the product knowledge of the buyer, not the knowledge of the promotional product expert.

What if there is a much better printed promotional product available that is perfect for your target audience, perfect for your message, but you don’t know about?

Our supply chain continues to design and introduce new product lines, new print techniques provide opportunities that maybe didn’t exist just last year.

If my team don’t ask why? and if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out about it! And you won’t be choosing the right Promotional Products for your campaign!

Some questions that need answers:

  • Why are you looking for promotional items?
    • Which will lead into….
  • What are you wanting to achieve, to communicate?
  • Who are the customers / prospects?
  • What do they do? What do they like? What will be useful to them?
  • Are they ladies or men? What age? Demographic? Office or Field based?
  • Where are they based? How are you reaching / distributing to them?
  • What are the logistics & storage considerations?
  • What does your logo / message involved, how many colours, how big?
  • What is the budget for the project, per unit?
  • Etc etc.

Sussex Promotions is a team of promotional product, branded merchandise enthusiasts… sure we’ll be delighted to supply you the best-selling branded pen that are the printed contour pens.

But if you tell us why you want that promotional product?

Then you might end up choosing the right Promotional Products with something very different, interesting and engaging for your target audience.

Choosing the right Promotional Products

Promotional products work if they are useful to the target audience, if they engage with the customer, if they use it every day, they will see your name, brand, logo, message.

The printed pen might be perfect, it often is, but Sussex Promotions has a team in sales and in design who might have a better pen, or an idea for how your brand can be brought to life or a new idea that your audience will love.

Ultimately, we want to deliver maximum ROI, and help you choosing the right Promotional Products.

The team is available on 01273 493618, we look forward to hearing from you!


How do Promotional Products Work?

How do Promotional Products Work? The PPAI (Promotional Products Association International in America) published this infographic of research explaining why promotional products are such a powerful marketing tool.

Powerful Marketing Tool:

  • 88% of recipients of Promotional Products can recall the advertiser
  • 62% can recall the printed message
  • 59% have a more favourable view of the advertiser
  • 85% did business with the advertiser after receiving a product
  • 47% kept the promotional product for more than a year
  • Top reason for a promotional product working: USEFUL
  • After clothing, Pens & Drinkware are the favoured product categories
promotional products work

No further words needed from me, other than Promotional Products (done well) work!

Andrew Nash is Managing Director of Sussex Promotions, your one stop shop for all promotional product and clothing needs.

Please call our friendly and knowledgeable sales team today on 01273 493618 for a bespoke quote or product ideas for your next marketing campaign.

If you have a comment about the infographic or your experience with Promotional Products in general we’d love to hear from you please use the section below.


Mad Men meets the internet: the ongoing appeal of promotional products

Despite the internet, the appeal of Promotional Products continue to find their place in the marketing mix.

Mad Men

If you were glued to every single box set of Mad Men, you’ll know something about the history of advertising and the way it simultaneously appeals to nostalgia and the future, blending old and new into successful marketing campaigns.

In fact the 50s, the decade in which the earliest episodes of the show was set was something of a mecca for promotional products. Companies really embraced the benefits of promoting their brand identity with customised gifts chosen from catalogues.

Promo Products are still an effective tool

While times have changed somewhat, with the internet supplanting the catalogue as the place to do business, the appeal of Promotional Products is undimmed and they remain an effective tool in the sales process.

Major exhibitions are held around the world annually, including the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, PSI Dusseldorf and the BPMA Silverstone that set the tone for the year ahead.

Peak marketing seasons around holidays and major sports events present an opportunity to gift valued customers and employees with clever merchandising material from the tried and trusted to the cutting edge.

By some estimates, the industry in the UK is worth over £1 billion.

Statistics highlight the appeal of Promotional Products

Research by the PPAI & BPMA turns up a number of fascinating statistics about the impact and influence of promotional items:

Nearly 90% of customers received a promotional item in 2017

9 in 10 recall the branding

8 in 10 recall the messaging

7 in 10 recall the call to action

83% are more likely to do business with a brand that has given them a promotional product.

That combination of huge reach with an unparalleled influence over decision making behaviour is what gives old style promo products a very 21st-century edge over other marketing platforms, including social media.

The Big Four

So why are promotional products such a good fit for a wide range of businesses?

Promotional items generate resonance with your customers, with 83% developing a more favourable impression of your brand after receiving an item, even something as simple as a printed pen.

The promotional products market is dominated by four categories of product: clothing (32%), writing instruments (7%), bags (7%) and drinkware (7%) – exactly the kind of promotional items that would have been around in the 1950s.

If you can match up your products to your clients’ lifestyles, so much the better – take the humble water bottle for example.


Drinkware is one of the big 4 in the promo products industry, especially at the moment with so much media attention on coffee cup waste and single use drinks bottles. 

There’s a good reason for the popularity of personalised mugs and water bottles despite the recent spike in interest for eco reasons. Just think about those water cooler moments, and Mad Men had more than a few episodes that generated plenty of discussion in the office the the next day!

Now imagine someone using your smart customised water bottle to get a refill that sits on their desk for the rest of the day and from which they swig on the commute home.

Put your logo and CTA on a water bottle and you’ll generate the lowest cost per impression of any form of marketing. And by presenting such a useful, high-quality and well designed item as a gift, you’re buying into the ability of promo to engage your customers with your brand in an overwhelmingly positive way.


Wearables or Clothing are the king of promo merchandise. A great T-shirt, fleece or softshell will find its way into any employee’s off-duty wardrobe and of course charity fundraisers and community challenges present great opportunities to brand your contributions with ‘Team’ clothing.

Design and quality are both paramount, which the industry is serving better and better with recognised designer brands allowing their garments to be co-branded and decoration methods allowing for all sorts of retail inspired accents in the decoration process.

Writing Instruments

Writing instruments might not seem like the most glamorous of promotional items, but they represent a huge RoI.

A good quality printed pen is highly functional, and people tend to have one handy at all times in their bag, car, and on their desk which must be the most prized piece of marketing real estate. Pens also have a habit of changing hands often, increasing their reach and the number of impressions they generate.

We’ve mentioned the sheer usefulness and longevity of a well-designed and decorated water bottle, and you can apply the quality/utility/fun mantra to insulated coffee cups and quirky mugs.


Bags, on the other hand, are another universally welcome item that can be toted far and wide – when shopping, at the gym, or even taking the kid’s equipment to an after school club.

A well designed bag is also unisex, which is a consideration when it comes to your promotional swag budget.

Finally, never forget the environmentally aware dimension of a good quality promotional product – a reusable shopping bag, for example, is a really useful piece of merchandise in an age when we’re all aware of the harm that plastic can do. And by choosing promotional items that use environmentally aware and recycled materials you’ll promote a positive ‘green’ impression of your company.

Up and coming

We’ll admit that tech gadgets have been around for long enough to be embedded as the must-have swag for Millennials, but this segment of the market is the most innovative and receptive to change.

Smartphone-related accessories will continue to be a smart choice, because of their sheer ubiquity, and the USB drive is simply a modern equivalent of the business card or the logo pen. The point is that these products blend our hankering for the future with our desire for items that deliver familiar results.

Promo products that bring together quality, usability, familiarity, fun and affordability are, like Don Draper’s famous Carousel, designed to capture and engage your customers. For a low level of outlay, you can blend the old and the new for a long range and effective reach.


There is no doubting the ongoing appeal of Promotional Products but with so much choice including the Big 4 and so much more we will be delighted to get involved with finding you the perfect product for your audience, campaign and budget.


Fad, fashion? Why the silicone wristband could be right for you!

The Silicone Wristband, they’re as much a fashion accessory as a marketing tool, a cost-effective and savvy way of raising your brand awareness. Durable, highly customisable and easy to distribute, a high-quality silicone wristband puts your logo and brand name directly around your recipient’s wrist.

It started with Lance

Back in 2004, the now-disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and his Nike sponsors developed the Livestrong campaign, a support organisation for those battling with cancer as Armstrong himself had so successfully done. As he entered the 2004 Tour, aiming for a record-breaking sixth win, he was seen sporting a yellow band around his wrist.

Harnessing the power and visibility of the iconic yellow jersey was a smart move. Soon the roadsides of France were filled with eager spectators all wearing their yellow silicone wristbands supporting the Livestrong cause.

An astonishing 87 million bands were sold (some changing hands on eBay for vastly inflated prices), kickstarting a craze that has continued to the present day.

Pink Unity bands for breast cancer awareness. Turquoise and mustard bands for Movember. Sport Relief and Help for Heroes are two of the high-profile UK charities who receive much-needed donations from the sale of silicone bands.

And though it’s unlikely that a silicone band will ever capture the zeitgeist again like the Livestrong band, these rubber bracelets can still be a worthwhile investment as part of your marketing strategy for the right charity, brand or cause.

Fad or here to stay?

There’s no doubt that the silicone wristband no longer commands quite the impact that it did back in the days of Livestrong. But wristbands & bracelets are a growth fashion accessory, just as festival bracelets are worn with pride. For the right charity, brand, cause or movement the wristband still has massive potential.

In the same way that custom pens and keyrings are no mere fads, the silicone bracelet is here to stay.

The power of mobile marketing

The silicone wristband is something of a double whammy in marketing terms. Let’s say one of your employees is undertaking a charity event: in this case, selling silicone wristbands with an appropriate slogan plus your company logo will tap into the same feelgood factor that drove the popularity of Livestrong bands. After all, who can resist showing off their charity giving?

On the other hand, a well-designed, high-quality silicone wristband will make a great promotional freebie, as many people simply won’t be able to resist showing off something fun and attractive that they got for free. Putting your company name and logo on your customer’s wrist is a smart twist on word of mouth and mobile marketing, with phenomenally cheap costs per impression to add to their appeal.

Make a mark with Silicone Wristband

As with any promotional product, buy the best quality you can afford. Even buying top of the range bands is not expensive, and they’ll repay you with longevity. A broken or faded wristband is of no use to anyone. Another tip is to order de-embossed bands. Not only is the carved effect more sophisticated than printing, the messaging will last as long as the band does.

Now you’ll need to match your brand colours for recognition and consistency. Customisation is something that silicone wristbands do extremely well, with a huge range of colours and effects. Single colours may be on brand but mixing two colours and creating a marble effect look great. Such marbled patterns also mean no two bands are identical. Depending on the target audience this extra zing or colour and individuality may just help.

Next you need to get your messaging right, which is surprisingly crucial for your promotional bands. Obviously your logo and company name need to be on there, but don’t be tempted to leave it there because this is where you have the opportunity to really deepen your wristbands’ impact.

Maximum Exposure

Consider timing your wristband release to coincide with an online campaign and add your hashtag. The point is, the more value you can add to your marketing messages, the more effective your wristbands will be.

Finally you need to think about distribution channels for your bands. Giving them away – at conferences and trade shows, in your retail premises, at reception – are all quick and easy ways to get them onto people’s wrists.

But why not also tuck a few in with an order or your next direct mailer? Your customers will appreciate the extra little gift and return the favour by giving you free publicity.

Hold a social media competition with wristbands as a reward for participation and tuck a few in with the big ticket main item. Another great way to encourage your customers to wear your wristbands is to offer a discount whenever they shop with you wearing your band. The word will soon get out and all your customers will want one!

Silicone Wristband, a unique product

Silicone wristbands are perhaps unique among promotional products in that they don’t really serve a useful purpose. You can’t play with them like a frisbee or charge your phone from one of them. But what silicone wristbands offer is a cross generational appeal that few other products can match, except perhaps the promotional pen. A desirable fashion accessory for the young and a way to demonstrate your support for a company or cause without seeming over the top, with a proven global appeal, the silicone wristband covers a lot of bases.

If you stay true to your brand values and create the right band for your customer base, high quality silicone rubber wristbands are a powerful and enduring marketing tool. This modern marketing method is an easy introduction to promotional products, offering an exciting and unique platform for your marketing ideas through the medium of a much-loved and highly recognisable promotional item.


How to choose the right promotional products.

While marketers focus their attention on the increasingly crowded online market, the numbers don’t lie: with a recipient keeping your promotional product on their desk for an average of eight months, you’ll remain top of mind while your tweets and posts are lost in the ephemera of social media. But there are considerations needed on how to get your promotional products right.

The beauty of promotional items is that they not only allow recipients to see your brand, but to associate with it and recognise it at a future date. It’s that direct emotional connection that social media finds difficult to match.

Make an impact

The promo products industry has never gone away – in fact it continues to grow at a healthy rate, clocking up an impressive five-year growth rate of over 15%. It’s the seventh biggest marketing channel in the US, with sales topping $21 billion annually, and in the UK just under £1 billion.

More interestingly, where customers have managed to channel out most online advertising, they show an 85% recall level for certain products, particularly ones that are useful and tactile. That far outstrips the impressions made by an online ad and creates favourable impressions – over 75% of recipients of your promo products will have a positive attitude towards your brand.

We all enjoy getting a gift. But a targeted and personalised promotional item says something more: it tells the recipient that you care about them and are happy to have them as a customer. Even a printed pen can create a feeling of goodwill towards your business.

Choosing promo items to brag about

Promotional swag (US) or products (UK) is cost effective and particularly prized by the under 55s who, perhaps surprisingly, prioritise this form of marketing over any other: especially internet pop-ups that are frequently blocked.

But before you load an online cart with cheap giveaways, stop and consider whether giving away those kinds of items are the right promotional products and will create the impression you want. If you don’t want your customers to remember you in the worst way, then you need to invest some time and money in getting the right items to create the best possible impression.

So how do you get your promo products right?

Quality, utility and attractiveness are useful watchwords to keep in mind when you’re making your decisions, but there are other questions you need to bear in mind as well so as to get the right promotional products.

What’s your message?

Don’t choose a torch if you’re an electric company, or a deodorant if you’re a beauty salon. Why? Because the underlying message these create – that your power company creates power cuts, that you have personal hygiene problems – is not the takeaway you want to associate with your brand!

Instead aim for the quirky or the high quality if you want to create a memorable first impression – those products will be used time and again, not handed over to someone else or, worse, discarded.

Are you selling yourself short?

The value of your gift should really be commensurate with the perceived value of your business. If you’re a one-man-band start-up then you can get away with an ‘ironic’ printed pen, but if you hire out a fleet of luxury vehicles then a cheap giveaway won’t cut it.

Your items don’t have to cost a fortune, but they must accurately reflect your brand and its value. Avoid generic products like T-shirts or tote bags unless you can make them covetable and collectable with inspiring creative designs.

Does the cap fit?

Or the T-shirt, or the fleece? Giving away wearables is often a good strategy but this is one item where quality is everything. A cheap T-shirt with fraying seams, a fleece that’s too thin or a cap that’s ugly and doesn’t fit well are all big turns off for your potential customers. They’ll leave a poor impression with your recipients and may even end up getting tossed into landfill, which won’t do much for your brand if you’re trying to project an eco-friendly image.

Is your promo making an emotional connection?

Choose a product that your clients perceive as thoughtful and adding value to your transactions and you’ll create an emotional connection with your brand that can drive website traffic and earn you positive customer reviews. Again, it needs to be a thoughtful and unusual gift, continues your story rather than a low cost printed pen.

Do you understand your audience?

You’ll never find one gift that pleases all your recipients, so you may want to invest in a variety of products suitable for different demographics and client bases. Above all, your promo giveaways should always make your company look good, which is why there are so many different products out there – one size very definitely does not fit all.

Don’t blow it

While there’s a huge amount of choice when it comes to promotional items, and they can be customised with your logo and contact details in a way designed to create the greatest impact, this can be a double-edged sword. If you’re not clear on the purpose and objective of your swag, then it’s easy to make mistakes and not order the right promotional products.

Never choose items that you fall in love with, because the chances are your recipients won’t react in the same way you do. After all, you wouldn’t use an alcohol-related promo gift to promote a children’s nursery. It’s also wise to think twice about products related to your business – just like that electric company torch, they can carry the wrong message or simply be inappropriate.

Finally, just a note about effective messaging. You need to make every word count, so ensure that your brand messaging is both clear and on-point and relates directly to the campaign you’re promoting. Choose a contact method that you actually use – email, phone or website contact form – rather than one that you’ve been advised to use, otherwise you’ll have some very disgruntled ex-customers.

Effective promotional products can reap rich rewards in terms of reach and impressions, creating a real bang for your buck in terms of RoI and providing the kind of long-lasting impact other marketing channels can only dream of.


What promotional giveaways will you be branding in 2018?

Nostalgia, smartphone wallets and more: here’s our guide to the top-trending promotional giveaways for 2018.

There may only be 40-something sleeps left until Christmas, but for any keen marketer the next big date in their calendar is 14-18 January, 2018. That’s when PPAI Expo 2018 kicks off in Las Vegas and we’ll get to see the hot trends in promotional giveaways for the coming year.

However, we’ve been busy with some predictions of our own in order to give you a heads up on the biggest promo product trends for next year.

The interactive app

Augmented and virtual reality is definitely here to stay, and is set to have a huge impact on the way we present promotional giveaways in 2018 and beyond. App integration is set to completely transform the way we use promotional items by transforming them into fully interactive media that can inform, entertain and create real buzz around your message.

Smart notebooks that can transform your conference notes directly into digital copy through an associated app are one promotional VIP gift we like, these play into everything we believe a promotional gift should be – useful and functional; attractive and high quality.

But interaction is available where any image can be scanned by a smart phone and automatically open a video delivering your message, no need for USBs and the clunky journey to opening and playing your promo video with low conversion and views as a result, let us convert almost any promo product into an AR ready promotional item, scan your printed message and immediately play your video.

The ethical gift

As more and more companies commit to sustainability, environmentally friendly promotional gifts will continue to be welcome. Why? Because implicit in the exchange is the understanding that both the giver and the recipient are ethical, and concerned about their environmental impact and sustainability.

Bags for life have made a huge impact in the reduction of polythene carrier bag usage and subsequent number of bags heading to landfill & worse finding their way to the ocenas when not properly disposed of. Up next we really want to see Bottles 4 Life and Mugs 4 Life creating the same impact with reducing the numbers of single use plastic water bottles and single use take-away coffee cups. Within this booming sector there are some really nice quality products and /or options for mixing & matching colours of bottles and lids to allow us to provide you with either high quality business gifts or alternatively lower cost promo product offerings.

Image shows a great example of eco promotional products - a branded Americano re-useable take-away coffee cup
The Americano with full colour wrap print is the Ultimate Mug 4 LIfe

Focus on health and wellbeing

We’re all more health conscious and it’s a trend that isn’t going away. Health trackers will continue to be big promo news into 2018, and there’s now a new emphasis on health and mental wellbeing in the office. Gifts that tap into mindfulness like aromatherapy oils or other high-quality stress busters including art therapy books and journals make much-appreciated promotional swag.

A yoga mat is an excellent choice of promotional gift. It promotes healthy lifestyle choices, is useful to the recipient and supplies a huge print area for your brand message. With 77% of UK millennials agreeing that being healthy is the new being rich, health and wellbeing related promotional items are a savvy way to get your branding in front of your clients on a daily basis.

The key of course is to understand who is your target audience.

Nostalgia makes the old new again

One trend we’ve noticed recently is the widespread love of nostalgia. It’s all over social media with a rash of Twitter accounts and Facebook pages referencing our love for all things retro, including sweets, TV themes and childhood games. Tap into the zeitgeist with a vintage-shaped bluetooth speaker or a simple game that can then be shared with all the family.

The smartphone wallet

There’s a huge amount of buzz around the smartphone wallet and we foresee this continuing to grow in popularity as a must have promotional item. The smartphone wallet plays into our love of – and dependence on – the technological gadgets in our lives while being supremely functional. The branded silicone pocket attaches easily to the back of your smartphone to hold credit cards and hotel room keys without stripping the magnetic strip. Start thinking now about how you’ll differentiate your wallet from the rest, because this is set to be very popular next year.

Inspire a sense of adventure

Useful as office-related gadgets are, they can be a little dull. Of course, printed pens, powerbanks and USB sticks aren’t going anywhere and continue to make excellent promo gifts, but similarly to the move towards health and wellness, a gift that is useful for the great outdoors speaks to the work-life balance we all value.

Keep it as simple as a collapsible coffee cup that’s always with you when you’re on the move to a smart flashlight or multi-tool that can help out in any situation. So why not unleash the inner Bear Grylls in your customers with a thoughtful outdoorsy gift?

A retail-branded backpack

Surfing brand Animal has just entered the promotional products scene in America and its retail-branded backpack looks set to be a gamechanger. With millennials demanding retail brand products of a higher perceived value and quality, it’s a smart move by Animal and only looks set to get more popular as millennials continue to enter the workplace. Not only are retail brands popular for promotional giveaways, but the whole retail experience is set to be a powerful influence in 2018.

Create a gift set

Can’t get the gift you want off the shelf? Then create it. Bundled gift sets are set to be huge in 2018, with a focus on whatever is relevant to your organisation or your campaign, whether that’s road safety, pampering, or creating the ideal office environment. This kind of gift works best when you pay attention to the unboxing experience, which promises to be another breakout theme for promotional swag in 2018.

The ideal gift set may not exist, so let us create it,  select 3-4 gifts, brand them discretely, create a gift box to suit, laser cut a foam inlay for your gifts, wrap, and voilà the perfect bespoke gift set for your target audience.

Your most effective marketing tool

Branded merchandise is an invaluable marketing tool if it’s well thought through and a good match with your target audience. The perfect promotional gift will create that bond with your recipients, and act as a constant reminder of your business.

Invest your budget wisely – old and tired products are an ineffective use of your resources. For example, if you can only afford a pen make sure it’s a pen that’s well designed, feels good to hold and looks super stylish. Promotional items are being updated and reinvented all the time, so it makes sense to keep abreast of what’s happening so you can make informed and strategic choices.

Keep these trends in mind for your trade shows and conference events in 2018 and you’ll be sure to create a buzz around the stand with the best, most forward-facing swag in the hall!

Focus on the Target Audience and let us help you find the gift that is Useful & Desirable to them.


From Promotional Giveaway to Valuable Collectibles

Back in 1983, NatWest bank started a promotional giveaway to encourage young savers to open a bank account. Their promo giveaway became valuable collectibles.

The giveaway started with a deposit of £5 and you’d walk away with a cute little pig shaped piggy bank known as Baby Woody. If you’d saved £25 after six months then you’d receive sister Annabelle. £50 after a year and you’d be the proud owner of big brother Maxwell. If you’d saved £75 after 18 months then you received Lady Hillary, and if you managed to grow your savings to £100 in two years then the biggest of the lot, Sir Nathaniel Westminster, was your reward.

Today remaining piggy banks have become a valuable collectible, the ultimate merchandise goal.

This Little Piggy is worth a fortune

The offer ended in 1988, and during that five year span English ceramics manufacturer Wade produced over five million of these piggy money banks.

Because relatively few children were able to complete the full set, Sir Nathaniel Westminster now commands a price of £60-130 a piece. Other banks followed suit, but no savings promotion ever replicated the popularity of NatWest’s piggy banks.

If you’re really lucky you might stumble on a golden Woody, clothed in gold leaf – only 25 were ever made and they now sell for around the £1,000 mark.

So what makes the NatWest piggies so popular? Partially it’s nostalgia and, of course, the scarcity of some figures like Sir Nathaniel and a late addition, Cousin Wesley, of whom only 5,000 figures were made. Ceramics are easily broken, giving more rarity value to complete sets in good condition. And never underestimate the power of a brand to give value to collectible items.

The $900 Happy Meal Toy

That’s not a typo. If you managed to collect every single one of the 80 Furby figures that McDonald’s gave away in the 1990s then the set is now worth $900 to an avid collector. If you remember the Beanie Babies craze then you won’t be surprised to know that a set of 10 Beanie Babies in original wrappers and mint condition are currently worth nearly $400 to avid collectors.

In fact, there are whole communities that exist solely to trade Happy Meal collectibles, with a set of figures from the recent Minions film currently selling for as high as $500. The market for these branded giveaways is huge and the success of the Minions set proves that it’s not age that determines how collectible a promotional product is, but desirability.

It’s impossible to know quite why people give so much value to items that appear to have no tangible value. As a brand, you might look at a series of metrics including impressions, brand recognition and goodwill generated by your promotional products to measure the effectiveness of your promotional products. But the recipient will use different parameters like functionality, usefulness and stylishness to assess whether they want to take your product or leave it. If you can create the same kind of buzz around your promotional giveaways as the big brands manage with their collectibles, then you’ll have a powerful marketing strategy to call upon.

The King of Collectibles: Coca-Cola

Brand loyalty is one of the central constructs of successful marketing, and creating collectible branded products helps to drive ever stronger brand recognition and loyalty. Coca Cola has been harnessing the power of the promotional item since the 19th century, and an 1891 or 1892 Coca Cola calendar that would have been used as a promotional giveaway is now worth around $10,000. Original metal signs can fetch in excess of $12,000.

Naturally part of the charm of these items for the collector is that their original use was quite utilitarian – to promote a particular brand of soft drink. Because these items were intended to be ephemeral, they’ve become of enormous interest to the collector and the range of items is huge – everything from fans and chewing gum to pocket knives and cufflinks. So massive is the interest in Coca Cola collectibles that the company now creates items like snow globes and polar bears to satisfy the demand.

Of course, many other brands have recognised the power of promotional collectibles and are keen to brand any item with their logo. And collectors fall in love with consistently high quality promotional giveaways and associate them directly with a company, creating a deep and emotional connection. It’s a lesson that applies to any promotional items – if they lack quality, style and functionality then your recipients won’t want to collect them, they’ll want to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Defining Collectibles Swag

So what qualities do collectible promotional items share? First with older brands there’s a sense of nostalgia, with products deliberately designed and styled to create a direct connection with the past and to create warm and fuzzy feelings in the recipient. For newer companies or franchises, value is delivered as an expression of a strong identity – think Super Mario or Star Wars – with a well defined identity that recipients and consumers identify with.

For an animal rescue charity we created a series of tote bags where the imagery that was printed was a hand drawing by a celebrity including Fearne Cotton, Ricky Gervais. The Collectibles are obviously not a cotton tote but the short run artwork on a novel canvas.

Creating promotional items that become coveted as collectible pieces is also an important marketing strategy for a brand like Coca Cola, who keep strict control over the products that they licence to be branded in their name. Having created an insatiable market, they need to feed it. Likewise, NatWest are revisiting their piggy banks as a promotional product, hoping that their new Pigby and Friends collectibles will prove as attractive to young savers as their predecessors in the 80s, and drive savings account to their bank.

If you can create covetable promotional characters that extends your brand into a collectible, then you can create a marketing environment where there are multiple points of contact between brand and consumer, where a trademark becomes a trustmark, differentiating your company in the marketplace and turning a branded item from a giveaway into a prized possession.

The team at Sussex Promotions has experience with manufacturing bespoke beanies, soft plush toys, bespoke money boxes, stress shapes, pvc key rings & USB bodies. If you have a character or idea you would like to bring to life then we have the past experience and factories to help you make them a reality.