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On flipside, if you are looking at motivating employees, thanking customers, buying gifts or building premiums chances are you will want to budget more money per item. However, there is likely to be fewer items ordered. I don't think a pen would be ample to thank someone for years of service! Items for these categories would fall under desk supplies, plaques, acrylic awards, clocks, engraved items and more.
If you are using these items or sales purposes, perhaps if you have traveling sales people, you will want something that will be left behind to keep your name top of mind. Things like a note cube or coffee mug are things that can sit on a decision-makers desk for a long time.
If you are looking to promote your business at an event, such as a concert or festival, passing out t-shirts could be a great idea. You can easily tie t-shirts up in knots and throw them to crowds. Lower ticket items for events could be things like pens, pencils, keychains, magnets, calendars, tape measures and more.
Finally, cost is something to keep in mind too. You don't want to spend same amount on a prospect as you would on a loyal customer. Use this as a suggestion: Under $5- Prospect $5-$25- Reward Over $25- Loyalty
The important thing here is that promotional items should not be ordered just because you like it. The item should clearly be in plan to help meet your business objectives.
Cindy Carrera is a freelance author who's written numerous articles about PR including: business promotional items, custom promotional products and wholesale promotional items.