The power of the mug…

I took time out recently to visit a Promotional Merchandise Seminar in London.  I went along with the preconception that I would be shown the same old merchandising that we’ve all used as give-aways. You know the sort of stuff, pens, mugs, USB sticks, rulers.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, to find an array of different ideas at the event that I hadn’t really considered before.


You know what it’s like when you’re ploughing through a promotional gift catalogue or website; you tend to become a tad blasé about the whole process and can easily miss the point about why you’re considering branded merchandise in the first place.

Keynote speakers at the event reminded me that, when used properly, promotional giveaways are a powerful marketing tool. So, I thought I’d share a couple of points that might be obvious but still worth touching on. For instance, the humble mug (the drinking mug type not me). Mugs have been voted one of the top five most effective promotional products. And as a nation, we drink 235 million mugs of tea or coffee every day!!! Source:

This follows that the humble branded mug (given to you freely by one of your suppliers) that you use at work (or at home if you like it that much!) sees action around 4-5 times a day. And, assuming that you use the same mug every day, you are constantly exposed to their brand every time you have a cuppa. Now, that’s great product/brand placement.

‘Ah’ I hear you say, ‘but mugs are so boring!’ Well, I thought the same until I was shown the different styles and finishes you can now achieve in this age of modern screen printing. I was also surprised at the affordability of some very classy products. Let’s be honest, we all like a bit of class even in the guise of the simple mug. The same goes for pens, rulers, etc. There is a massive range of promotional items out there. The trick is to decide how you want to use them.  Here are some considerations when choosing promotional merchandise.

Choose a product that relates to your identity and is useful to the recipient. It will help increase the awareness of your brand.    

What are you using it for? Choose merchandise that is relevant to your event or marketing campaign/strategy.

Use promotional merchandise as an effective and free giveaway marketing tool when exhibiting on your exhibition stand – pre, during and post your event depending on what works with your marketing for the event.

Use as an ideal direct mail piece to a carefully selected database of prospects and customers but be careful of the postage costs – an e-shot to ‘claim’ the free gift may be a more cost-effective alternative.

As a thank you to your clients for their business (do Meerkats ring a bell?).

Use promotional merchandise as thanks to your hard working staff to help build staff morale.

Use as part of a product/service launch by choosing a gift that will remind visitors of that launch. 

Think carefully about how you use promotional merchandise. You want to leave an impactful impression on your prospective and existing client. There are lots of clever ways you can make merchandise work for you and at a price that suits your marketing spend. It’s all a matter of thinking it through and choosing the right product that fits your brand or promotional activity.

In the meantime, enjoy your mug of tea ….

Author: Tony Barnes – Director, West Street Marketing Ltd

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