Everyone's already got a totebag, right?
June 10, 2010 11:58 AM   Subscribe

I've been tasked with finding fairly low cost give-aways with my employer's logo on it. These will need to be mailed most of the time, so not large or cumbersome, but worthy enough to be given as a prize.

I am getting lost at the the promo websites and see things I would like but this needs to appeal to a wide variety of adults. Has anyone received a promo item that was particularly useful or cool?

Bonus points for law or legal services related items.

posted by readery to Shopping (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
post-it pads, Constitutions (snazzy packaging / binding would help), USB sticks, USB hubs(!), windbreakers, small houseplants
posted by grobstein at 12:02 PM on June 10, 2010

I would like to receive and would often use a USB stick, even a small one (like 500mb).
posted by codacorolla at 12:06 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]

Canvas or nylon tote bags. They pack flat for mailing and can vary widely in style & price point depending on what you have to work with.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:07 PM on June 10, 2010

I loved getting a notepad that was loose paper (as opposed to post-its or bound on one side). It came shrink wrapped on a little pallet for a shipping company. They're handy and it had about 500 sheets of paper on it.
posted by msbutah at 12:09 PM on June 10, 2010

A nice pen is always good to have around.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:10 PM on June 10, 2010

USB sticks (but I disagree-- don't cheap out and get a 256-512 MB one no one will ever use; 4 GB sticks are cheap enough that anyone who needs one already has one).

Laser pointer pens are always fun (and occasionally useful) too.
posted by supercres at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: There are a bunch of cute USB hubs at the bottom of this page. You could pre-load a USB stick with some sort of useful legal documents in a nice format that was keyword searchable. Also: LED flashlight/keychains [or the credit card sized ones that can go in a wallet, those are mega useful and not everyone has them]. I don't know if you could do this but paying for some completely legally-pitch-perfect iphone app would be nifty if you could somehow crossbrand. Might be too techie. I did get one canvas tote bag that had little sections for holding wine in it which was a sort of nice picnic tote thing. Otherwise assume everyone has a tote bag, mug and paper, even though better versions of some of these might be good.
posted by jessamyn at 12:16 PM on June 10, 2010

My favorite pen is one that my own company bought as a promo item. It's a very nice weight and writes beautifully, and in blue ink, too. [Most promo pens I've been given have used black ink, which I can't use for my job, and so end up in a drawer.]

Notepads are nice, too, a 4"x6" size is my favorite.
posted by alynnk at 12:17 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: My SOs company recently did a promotion with one of these very flat credit-card sized USB drives and everyone fought to get one [Link is to a random company offering the product, I have no idea if that's a good supplier or not].
posted by jamaro at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by duddes02 at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2010

My favorite company gift was a 2gig USB stick. A keychain flashlight handy, small first aid kit, keychain swiss army knife are some other things I would be interested in.
posted by Sufi at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2010

It may depend on what your clientèle looks like. I work on exactly these sorts of things at a financial company, and one of our most-requested branded items is golf balls. If you were at a tech company, or a cable provider, though, this may not be as applicable. Who are these items for-- prospective clients, professional associates at other firms, or associates of your firm?

Other branded items we have include travel mugs, pens, post-it pads (these are very good items for prospective clients, because they stay on a desk for a long time and individual sheets can be given to other people for phone numbers, notes, etc-- the advertising walks around by itself), desk calendars, coasters, USB sticks, polo shirts, hats, canvas tote bags, messenger bags, pocket knives.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2010

Current favorite tchotchky at my (financial services) company: Buzzkills. They're flat cards (about the thickness of a credit card and about twice the size) that you can put under your blackberry so you don't get that annoying buzzing/interruptive sound during conference calls. Hugely popular.
posted by widdershins at 12:45 PM on June 10, 2010

I used to work in the promotional products industry. Items you can have logos imprinted on range from stress balls to coach bags so I can completely understand how you feel lost. These are the questions you should consider first (and what the salespeople would ask you):

1) What is your total budget?

2) How many items do you need roughly?

Divide the answer to ques 2 into the answer to ques 1 and you know your range PER ITEM. Then filter your results in the promo sites by that amount.

3) What is your target audience? What would they appreciate/use and not throw away?

4) What is the purpose of this mailing? Is it more of a feel-good thank-you to your best clients or is it something to constantly remind them of your company/services? Useful items such as pads and pens will probably stay around but probably wouldn't have people clamoring for it.

USB sticks on the other hand, as suggested above, will always be awesome gifts - but 500 of them mailed out requires quite a large budget. Always start with your budget - then choose between what's available in that range. You can also consider cheap desk toys, which are somewhat in the middle between USB and post-it.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention that they are probably the easiest thing in the world to ship, being flat and fairly small, and there's plenty of space for the logo and a tagline.

Here's the site: Buzzkillers.
posted by widdershins at 12:47 PM on June 10, 2010

I like USB drives, reusable shopping bags, pens, Mechanical pencils, and bottle opener keychains.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:01 PM on June 10, 2010

The best legal services schwag I ever received is a paper date wheel. Here's how it works: if something comes in on June 10, 2010 and your response is due in 60 days, you pull out the wheel, turn the wheel by 60 days and you get August 9 as your due date. (It's super handy if a judge sets a deadline as your opponent filing something 20 days from today and you filing something 15 days after that.) It also has the leap years through 2020 on it. It's something I always have in my front desk drawer and it's about 5 inches and made of paper. It's quicker than software and won't be confiscated by court security. The only quick example I could find was this.

I have had to keep people from stealing it.
posted by *s at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

I buy a lot of this stuff and you've had some very good suggestions above so I would just add one note of caution: There are some companies that will lowball the price on the promotional item and then kill you on shipping costs. So, be sure to get them to include shipping costs or put in writing that they will be waived (many companies waive shipping especially on small items) when you get quotes.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:20 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: We did earbuds where the cord winds up into a little case thing and they went like hotcakes recently. I think they were pretty cheap, and are light and mail easily.
posted by misskaz at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sturdy luggage tags.
posted by kpht at 1:49 PM on June 10, 2010

I got a novelty monkey usb drive the other day and I'm embarrassed to admit how much that little fellow makes me smile but there are plenty of novelty usb devices that might be suitable, from golf balls to ducks...
posted by ceri richard at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best freebie I ever got, I've carried it with me and looked at the company's logo every day for 3 years, is a cloth for cleaning my spectacles.
posted by IanMorr at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2010

Carabiner - for holding keys, USB drives, etc.

Calendar - an old stand-by, but mostly everyone in my office still has one hanging on their wall, even though they use an electronic one for their "real" calendar

Posters - All the really geeky programmers had some kind of poster outlining the syntax of a language or a sample network infrastructure or somesuch

Stress balls - either round logo-fied ones, or in shapes that might represent your business or a project (To be honest, I hate these, but someone must like them, because I keep getting them.)

Lanyards - for keys or IDs

I really like my fancy stainless-steel coffee cup, but those can be pricey in quantity
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:28 PM on June 10, 2010

All the really geeky programmers *at my last job*
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:29 PM on June 10, 2010

A sturdy, transparent 3-2-1 compliant quart sized PVC bag with a real zipper (printed with your logo), suitable for taking toiletries through TSA at airports; no need to include plastic bottles. If you're using it to drive traffic to your booth at a trade show, you can choose an appropriate message and then send it out ahead of time to pre-registered attendees who will, mostly, be flying to the convention city. Cheap to buy, cheap to mail, super useful.
posted by carmicha at 4:24 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: I have a guy who does this and he's great at it. He does tons of stuff with our logo and is proactively creative about fitting the need to the solution. Our members love him. Plus, he's cost competitive.

MeMail me for his contact info. (I'm heading out of town but will be back Tuesday, just fyi.)
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:35 PM on June 10, 2010

Could you give us a better of what industry you're in and who your clients are? What type of client are you targeting and at what point in the relationship? Also, what price point are you looking at? When you say mail, do you mean something that would fit in a small envelope like a pen? Or something that could reasonably fold like a tote bag?

I ask because there are a lot of different variables...I do promotions for a blood bank, and we have a couple different levels of promotions that we look at. There are the little cheapie things that HR gives away at career fairs, like koozies and pens. Then there are the items that you get at a blood drive in the $1-$3 range - tshirts, hats, aluminum water bottles, etc. We also have a loyalty program where you get items once you've given blood x amount of times in a year. 3 times is a polo, 5 times is something nicer in the $15 range (tote bag, blanket), 6 times is something closer to $20 or $25 (watch, fleece jacket, etc).

One thing I recommend if you're going to be doing this on a regular basis is to find a vendor who you can work with. There are a *ZILLION* promo vendors out there. They're all pretty much the middlemen for the distribution places, who are middlemen for the factories. So it all comes down to a couple variables - usually for me its price, turn-around/delivery time, and (they hope) your relationship with them.

I have one main vendor that I use (she used to work at my company so she really knows us, and she works exclusively with blood banks). She is really good with email (a plus for me), very responsive. When she sends suggestions, they are usually in our price point and something we'd be interested in (personally I don't want twice-weekly emails with items that I can't afford). She often lets us know about close-outs. Also, sometimes there are factory specials and she will try to get a group rate with multiple clients - recently she offered logo pint glasses at a great price as long as we ordered by a certain date, that way she could submit the entire order to the factory at once. Also when they have relationships with factories sometimes you can get great deals on cool personalized items, like watches engraved with your company logo.

If you tell me more about your situation, I'd be happy to help more!
posted by radioamy at 4:47 PM on June 10, 2010

You could pre-load a USB stick with some sort of useful legal documents in a nice format that was keyword searchable.

So, while I would LOVE to get USB sticks (even smaller ones can be re-tasked for other uses), if you put data on them, you have to be VERY VERY certain that you do not accidentally include viruses/trojans...

If it can happen to the big camera/hard-drive/USB-stick manufacturers, in theory it could happen to you.
posted by jkaczor at 5:22 PM on June 10, 2010

My favorite gift that I've gotten from a company is a set of four really nice glasses (drinking, not eye) with the company logo on them.
posted by JDHarper at 10:07 PM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: Magnifying glasses. I was given one that had a somewhat relevant slogan printed on the handle.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:39 AM on June 11, 2010

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