A couple of months ago, we wrote a popular post entitled, “5 Top Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Using Promotional Products.” For this week’s post, your friends at EmbroidMe San Diego are doing it again!  I’ve reached into the old memory banks and pulled out 5 more common mistakes that can turn a potentially productive promotional campaign into a waste of money & effort.  Read on to become better informed…and don’t let these things happen to you!

Not Having The Right Size

Be mindful of sizing. Think carefully about how to handle distributing items that need to be the right size in order to be useful. Whether you’re giving away hats, shirts, or dog leashes, you will need to either know the sizes of your recipients ahead of time or, have an assortment of sizes on hand to match up with people on the spot. Having a full size range to give away shows that your company cares about its customers and wants to give a product that fits properly and serves the purpose. If making a large order with a generous assortment of sizes is not feasible, inquire of your promotional marketing adviser about what types of garment decoration can be done in small batches. With a little forethought, it is often possible to make a smaller initial order of logo apparel and then fill in your stock economically as popular sizes get used up.

If giving away sized items seems like too big a hassle, then consider a one-size-fits-all product such as custom baseball caps, duffel bags, or coffee mugs.

Buying Too Cheap:  Budget Inconsistent With Your Goals

Be sure your budget covers a good quality gift for the number of people you are targeting. It’s a very common mistake to look at only the bottom line in regards to promotional products. But going with a cheaper gift to stay within a tight budget may be counter-productive. If you give a gift that looks good at first but doesn’t last, or worse yet, just "feels cheap,” it leaves a poor impression of your company. You don’t want your clients or prospective clients thinking that your business is a penny-pinching operation that cuts corners on quality. Sometimes spending a little extra actually helps boost the bottom line. Alternatively, tighten up your criteria for who gets a gift so that those who do receive something get a quality item.

Your Sense of Humor Misses the Mark

We had a whole post a few weeks ago recommending that you avoid doing anything with promotional products that could possibly be taken as inappropriate. But it bears repeating, especially if you have a quirky sense of fun, don’t make the mistake of using an inappropriate item or saying to promote yourself. Let’s not go there, ok? ;-)

Too Much of a Good Thing (Oversaturation)

Humans are odd creatures. We love exclusivity. When something is hard to get or promoted as “exclusive,” it becomes much more popular than other similar items that are more readily available. When large companies brand, they need to be careful that their custom promotional products don’t oversaturate the market – that’s why you’ll often see major brands doing promos that are kept exclusive, making them a collector's item. Small businesses need to be careful that they aren’t hopping on the “new, hot, latest-and-greatest” promotional widget (that everybody else is also hopping on right now). 

Ordering Without Seeing a Sample

Promotional products are often sold based on a photo and a written description. But if you haven’t held a sample of that product in your hands before you order, you really have no idea what you’ll be getting. It might be lighter, or it might be heavier than you expected. A magnet might not be as strong as you imagined. Will you be happy if this is the case? I highly recommend requesting a sample of the product you are considering ordering. It takes a little longer, but is well worth it to ensure that you will be getting exactly what you are expecting. 


It’s important to have good advice when purchasing promotional products. We try to share as much information as we can in these blog posts. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or stop in at our showroom at 7710 Balboa Ave, San Diego 92111.  We’d love to see you!