Written by a girl who loves getting free stuff
I love promotional items. Sure, they may sometimes be cumbersome to have around (phone book sized catalogues, I’m looking at you) and I think that people should really stop giving out posters of any kind… But if I were given a choice between a boring old business card and a cool three-ink pen, I would take the pen!
In my bag at any given time, I can usually find a pen or two from a pharmaceutical company (I once received one that was in the shape of a syringe) and a notepad diary from a convention or conference I attended. They’re nothing I would buy myself but that doesn’t make their presence in my life any less appreciated.
Why do I love this stuff?
1. They’re free.
People just seem to have a whole bunch of them to give away! Who doesn’t love free stuff, right? Some giveaways do end up gathering dust in a forgotten corner of my closet but that only means that when I do my spring cleaning, I usually find a new mug to brighten up my desk and a bunch of never-used pens that will eventually find a home in the aforementioned mug once they pass the scratch pad test (you know, taking a pen and attacking a used piece of paper with it to find out if it works). I get a clean, uncluttered closet and new office supplies – all without spending a single dollar.
2. They’re usually something I can use.
I know a guy who loves competing in sports events – from running to ultimate Frisbee to rock climbing – and I see him with all sorts of giveaways from organizers and sponsors. He gets t-shirts, coffee cups and so much more! See, they didn’t tell me in school that being athletic meant getting a lot of cool free stuff. I would’ve tried harder in Phys Ed instead of hiding in the bleachers with a book in hand.
3. They remind of people I’ve met, places I’ve been and events I’ve attended.
I love welcome kits. You know what I mean! Those standard ones that they give out in a plastic envelope that includes a nametag, a pen, notepad, calendar of events, some candy and a huge map of the convention hall? I’ve heard that during the Oscars, celebrities get all sorts of free stuff too. They have a whole room dedicated to swag and they come away with hundreds of dollars’ worth of merchandise. Life really isn’t fair sometimes.
Sometimes I join those cheesy contests that they hold during conventions where they tell you a bunch of information about their company and then ask you questions or I drop my business card in a fishbowl and cross my fingers that my name or company gets called in the raffle draw. Sometimes the giveaways are so-so like mugs and stuff… but bigger companies offer trips for two to Cancun and other fun stuff for the grand prize. I haven’t won yet but the odds are that I will someday!
4. They’re sometimes fun.
Remind me to tell you all the different uses I have for stress balls some time. I have yellow smiley-faced ones, red ones with black font (I pretend they’re the angry emoticons) and even sports-themed ones. Stress balls are a great way to relieve stress, period.
If you’re creative (and sufficiently bored) even notepads can be fun. If you’re lucky enough to get the bigger rectangular shapes, you can use them to play basketball (your wastebasket being the net) and even landing airplanes (your co-worker’s desk being the tarmac).
5. Once again…they’re free
This part of getting promotional items will always and forever be my favorite. In my opinion this means I can mention it as many times as I want to really hammer in why I love promo products despite the cheesy advertising campaign that goes with it.
My favorite freebies
1. Embroidered Tote Bags
I like things. I like things to put things in. I therefore believe that tote bags (free ones at that) are the coolest thing ever. I like taking them grocery shopping and bargain shopping… I also like using them to organize all the paper that I seem to accumulate without even realizing it. I don’t even mind the company logo and the address that is printed on the side. They gave me a bag, the least I can do is pretend it’s Chanel.
2. Shoes (LOL. I wish.) Sewing kits
Bad things happen when you wake up at an ungodly hour and stay on your feet the whole day. Sewing kits have been a part of every conference and hotel experience I can remember since I was a kid. And since I’m not really the sewing type, I have no idea where to buy my own to bring around. I just try to make sure that I slip any unused kits in my travel bag so I have enough to fix whatever tear or loose seam that needs mending.
On a side note, have you ever heard of footzy rolls? After a long day of running around in high heels, why not give your poor, beleaguered attendees some podiatry-inspired TLC?
3. First aid kits
This is directly related to reason #2 – from paper cuts to a minor burn from a curling iron, first aid kits are a great way to let your clients (me) know that you care about me and my penchant for clumsy.
I have one good pen that I use for my checkbook and I stopped buying generic Bics after I graduated college. I love getting pens from conventions and companies because I don’t stress if I can’t find it after three whole days and when I need it the most, there’s always one lying around the place or hiding in my bag.
5. Notepads & Organizers
I’m always sketching and writing stuff down and I still haven’t found a better way to do that (and still be creative) than to use actual paper. I’m ashamed to say most of my organizers are half-filled up and get junked after half a year. It isn’t a reflection on the quality of the organizer, though, but it does get tiring to write down similar reminders in my phone AND my organizer.
My favorite thing about drink tumblers is that they usually come with a straw. Plus they’re really colorful and pretty. I also like reading the sides when I’m waiting somewhere that has no magazines. It’s fun. Really.
In the CSI museum’s gift shop in Las Vegas, they have a black mug that when filled up with hot beverages, turns white. It’s amazing and if I had that on my desk, I would probably get a lot of looks and questions about where it came from. Also, bonus, when my coffee is hot the difference in color would tell me that it’s probably not a good idea to pick up the mug without protecting my hands first.
I like key chains and I wish they came with more attractive designs. They make it easier it for me to segregate my keys and I don’t have to worry about losing my spare. Yes, I’m forgetful as well as clumsy.
9. Little flashlights
I’ve actually never gotten these before but if I ever decide to get lost in a forest at night I’m sure I’d thank the lord (as well as the company that gave me the flashlight) for providing me with a way to see more than two feet in front of me. They might also come in handy in dark theaters.
They’re the perfect pick-me upper after a long day of listening to talk after talk. They help me stave off some of my hunger and tide me over until I can get to that buffet in the hotel restaurant.
I have a lot of other reasons why I love promo products (they’re free) and why receiving them gives me such a weird high… we don’t have time for that today, but I can tell you that I spend more time talking to people who do give them out and letting them tell me about their company and products. What can I say? I just give ten minutes of my time and I manage to walk away with a loot bag! Sounds like a great bargain to me!