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Making Connections: Why People Love Promo Products

Published: 2019-12-02 Author: Lisa Horn

As humans, we're hardwired to make connections. Connections with other people and the things we're passionate about. 

Just like we have basic needs for shelter and food, we also have basic needs to be social, belong to groups and form relationships. These strong relationships are a central part of a flourishing life.

In fact, our social needs are one of the reasons the human brain is so big, posits Matthew Lieberman, psychologist and author of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect. In fact, Lieberman sees the brain as the center of the social self with the primary purpose of social thinking. 

So what does neuroscience have to do with promotional products? More than you might think.

Bringing People Together With Promotional Products

Promotional products are all about making connections—both internally with team members and externally with customers and prospects. How? 

Here are three examples:

  • You give new employees a welcome basket full of branded merchandise as part of the onboarding process so they feel like they're part of the team.
  • You thank customers for their business annually with a holiday gift to strengthen an existing relationship.
  • You reach out to potential customers using promotional product throughout the sales process.

Sure, branded merchandise (in its most simplistic form) is a form of advertising. But beyond that, promotional products actually elicit an emotional response when given—and that's what makes them so powerful. 

As a part of its Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study, the Advertising Specialty Institute asked 2,000 people, “When you receive a promotional product, how do you feel about the company that gave it to you?” People responded that they felt good, grateful, happy, appreciated, awesome, thankful, excited, surprised and even loved. 


These feelings resonate because they are how we connect with each other and the things we love. The stronger these feelings are, the stronger the bond with your brand. 

To get a sense of this love of promo—and the kinds of swag that makes people swoon—check out these interviews in Times Square. As one theatre lover put it: “You name it, I have it. If it has a Broadway logo on it, I'm happy.”


Building Better Bonds With Employees

While much of the spend allocated to promotional products is often for external use with customers and prospects (brand awareness campaigns, tradeshow giveaways, business gifts, sales incentives, etc.), using branded merchandise internally with employees (programs for onboarding, recognition, engagement, wellness, etc.) is just as important. 

Think about it: If you work full-time, you spend 40 (or more) hours with fellow employees. Depending on your job, you could be part of an active team (lots of connection daily) or you may work more independently (less connection, which can lead to loneliness). 

Either way, “strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier, which can translate into work performance,” according to this Forbes article. Furthermore, “employers who support social connections in the workplace and help employees form strong relationships with one another help build a successful workforce.” 

Having strong work relationships leads to more job satisfaction, less stress, more engagement and loyalty, and an overall healthier life. Facilitating great work connections with a little help from promotional products is certainly worth the investment.

4 Tips To Strengthen Connections Using Branded Merchandise

How can you improve connections with your customers, prospects and employees with a little help from carefully selected swag? Follow these tips:

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Effective promotional campaigns don't use a one-size-fits-all approach when selecting merchandise. Thanking long-term clients is different from getting prospective customers' attention is different from recognizing employees for accomplishments. 

Determine what is important not only for the specific audience but also the specific application. What resonates with them and makes them feel special, plus what is appropriate for the situation? 

Once you understand the basic wants and needs plus aspirational desires, then you can design a campaign that uniquely speaks to them.

2. Make It Personal

Look for ways to add personalization—whether an imprint is done with variable data to include the person's name or it's something as simple as a hand-written note accompanying the product. There's no better way to strengthen a connection than by adding a personal touch.

3. Give Gifts, Not Stuff

How you give swag is almost as important as the product itself. Grabbing bulk items out of a cardboard box is not going to make recipients feel special. Quite the opposite. 

Instead, have the mentality that you are giving a gift. Add packaging—a gift bag, box or ribbon. Include a card. Sincerity goes a long way toward building connections. 

4. Determine Impact

Bigger isn't always better. Mass distribution of product may be appropriate in some situations, but it may be wiser to focus your efforts and budget on a smaller subset. 

Which has a bigger impact: Doing something average for a large number of people or creating something really special for a small group? To make a stronger connection, you may have to scale back on distribution to have more upscale products that make an impact.   

However you build connections with your target audience, one thing is sure: People love promos! So give it to them with sincerity and appreciation, and watch how the connections grow.   

Want the best products that can connect you to your target audience authentically—and with flair? Tap into our concierge service. We can build a campaign that not only represents your brand but also delights recipients. 

Contact us at or book an appointment at for a quick 10-minute chat, 20-minute new product call or 30-minute brainstorming session to get started today.