Okay. So you like your morning cup o’ joe, and surely your clients do, too. But really, how many coffee cups does one person need? Soon, everyone’s cupboards are filled up with mug after mug. They have the white one with the cute company logo, and it’s likely the blue one with big white block letters of the business name is hidden in the back of the cupboard.Sure, the basic white mug is a classic in the promotional industry…always will be. It’s an industry standard. You know, it’s what the classic black dress is to the fashion world: a staple. A simple garment that has withstood the test of time each year, adding a slightly different twist on the trusted standby.But before your clients’ routine gifts find a place collecting dust in the closet, it may be time to take a new approach in finding the perfect promotional items.Rule #1: Yes, promotional gifts are necessary and effective.Rule #2: No, don’t do the norm and ordinary when choosing an effective way to make a lasting impression for your company.In an industry that coughs up more than $18 billion dollars in business, successful companies are groomed to understand the importance of how promotional products can enhance the growth of their business. But what is key in understanding the biz is to identify what products will be most effective for your company. From t-shirts to pens to calendars, the promotional industry offers thousands of unique products to choose from. So, in order to stand out from a sea of pens and cups, try being a little bit more daring by choosing items known for their individuality and functionality.By following a few simple steps, the next time your in the market to order your promotional items, you’ll be able to find fresh and innovative ideas to keep your company name out there for the long haul. #1 Match Your Product To Your Business Goals Ask yourself, ‘What are you trying to accomplish by handing out these gifts?’ For example, if you are looking for something to create an idea of relaxation in the office, go for something practical and unique by handing out Stress Balls to all employees. Items for the office always make great choices and they especially have extended shelf-lives. According to Tamara Trim, who has spent many years in sales and marketing for the hotel industry, Stress Balls serve as a fun and lasting impression for her clients. “The stress balls are a great choice because they stay on the desk, which keeps the company logo out there. Basically, they are an inexpensive way to keep our company top of mind.” If you are considering custom stress balls for your next promotion, I would highly recommend trying a few different shapes and styles first, ordering the minimum quantity for each, as opposed to ordering 1,000 of just ONE shape. There's is no sense in putting all of your eggs in one basket. Handing out multiple shapes at the same show will help you determine which stress balls is most popular with your target demographic, and more importantly, which shape has the largest impact on your bottom line.The trick is to try and locate stress balls with similar imprint areas so you can receive combination pricing (250 Product A + 250 Product B = 500 Piece Price for A and B) and reuse the same setup charge over and over again. #2 Keep The Company Logo And Colors In Mind Think of yourself as the cheerleader of the company…sis…boom…bah! Tie in your gifts with the company colors or logo. By adding this small attention to detail, your promotional gift will soon turn into a keepsake that everyone will want to display. Especially if the business has a unique color in their logo, something that you wouldn’t typically find on a standard color wheel. Simply get a piece of the company letterhead to take with you when ordering the items to ensure a great match. Checking with your logo products supplier to see which standard ink colors they offer before placing an order. More often than not, most promotional product manufacturer's will require you to pay an additional fee for a custom ink match (referred to as a PMS Color Match). When trying to match the item or imprint color to your company's colors it is highly recommend that you contact someone in your marketing department for your company's logo uses and requirements.This color code or PMS Color is used to precisely match ink colors for printing. Each hue has a coded number indicating instructions for mixing inks to achieve that hue. Whenever ordering multiple promotional products, especially for the same event, show, or customer - it is EXTREMELY important that you specify the SAME imprint color to be used for each item otherwise your yellow imprint on your mug may look gold when sitting next to your t-shirt.A great source to view available Pantone colors can be found by visiting here. #3 Be Conscious Of The Budget There are so many items to choose from in the world of promotional products, it’s easy to satisfy any budget. Figure out how much you can spend per item, and how many pieces you need. Do the math, then narrow down your choices as to what will fit into your budget. Focusing more on the return on investment (ROI) that the promotional product has to offer and not so much the initial investment itself. Sure, money is important, but what does it say about your company when you give a potential client a $.18 pen that breaks moments later?For a great source of over 9,000 hand picked promotional products for ANY budget I recommend visiting Quality Logo Products, Inc. where they allow you to search and sort by price (low to high and high to low). #4 Be Creative Go beyond the ordinary. If you want mugs, go for ones with special effects like the disappearing ink trick, where your company logo magically appears whenever a hot beverage is poured into it. If you’re a pen person, think of ones that double as a carabiner, or lights up, or has a calendar. Consider mouse pads that do double duty as a calendar…you get the idea. Ordering unique promotional products. Something you never tried or seen before. There is nothing worse than two similar companies showing up to a trade show, event, or outing distributing the SAME promotional product. Potential clients will become confused, yielding your promotional marketing efforts useless. Play it safe by choosing a promotional product you feel comfortable with, making sure you are not selecting something you've received at a previous showing or event.Your promotional products advisor should be able to help you locate or identify new promotional products that should fit both your operational and fiscal needs. #5 Consider Useful Items Again, you might be adding some pizzazz in the piece by finding the new-fangled cup or the latest and greatest, trendiest pen, but these items are still practical and will get used on a daily basis. The whole idea is to find pieces that will be around for a long time…leaving a lasting impression of the specific company. Locating a logo item that is attractive and functional. What good is a stapler remover to a client who works in a "paperless" office space? What IT engineer needs a compact sewing kit? Be sure to consider your target audience in addition to identifying your promotional marketing goals. Ask yourself, what might my client need or consider handy? Just as with your regular product or service offerings, your promotional product should fill your customer's needs, wants, wishes, or desires.If your a lumber company looking to market yourself to contractors on a tight budget, why not consider a custom carpenter pencil?Making sure your promotional giveaway aligns itself well with your company image or marketing message will go a long way in increasing brand awareness. When putting your gift list together, keep in mind that no matter what dollar amount you do spend, the value of the imprinted products far exceeds the initial cost. You’ll find that many people will keep their gifts for more than a year, or even two or three, all the while thinking about your company on a daily basis. Now, you can’t put a dollar amount on that!