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Agent to Agent: Do Promotional Items Really Matter in Marketing?

By George Francis, President / CEO
Alta Vista Insurance Agency

People call them promotional items, goodies or free swag — a term stemming from the phrase “stuff we all get (SWAG),” but what many companies actually want to know is: Does it work? By that they inquire whether or not giving away products with their business name actually gains them customers. It’s no secret that budgets are getting progressively tighter, and agency owners are looking for any way to cut back on costs without compromising their marketing goals.

Some experts say that promotional items can actually improve the chances that first-time customers will return to a business a second time. This is a significant consideration for companies that provide services like California business insurance, for example, since people who are in the market for a low-cost, but comprehensive policy may shop around and get quotes from a number of local agents.

Here are a few things to take into account when ordering promotional items:

  • Some research has shown that company-branded swag provides 27 percent better sales results than coupons and performs 139 percent better than welcome letters for customer retention.
  • Even though they can be somewhat expensive, wearable promo items like t-shirts may be the most effective for drawing in new clients.
  • In order to get the best bang for your buck, think about what types of products people are likely to continue using for long periods of time, thus exposing more people to your business name. For example, good quality pens, calendars, umbrellas and stress items are often hung up or kept in plain sight, as opposed to pins or other cheap, plastic items, which will likely be thrown away or stored in a miscellaneous drawer.


As always, it is important to consider who your targeted consumers are when planning a promotional event or item giveaway. If you sell California contractors insurance, handing out free t-shirts may be your best option since many builders and construction personnel wear casual jeans and t-shirts every day. Promotional items may also be a great way to make your presence in the community known, especially if you have a new business. In order to boost the success of your free giveaway, you can consider announcing it on your company’s Facebook or Twitter account to draw in potential customers in the area.

September 6, 2011