Giving promotional merchandise is a way of attracting people to consider buying your products. The recipients of the free stuff will feel grateful for the item received and might buy your products in return. Other people who see those who wore or used the items might consider buying your products too.
For many companies, they saw a boost in their popularity after handing out free stuff. It does not mean though that this strategy will lead to success. Some companies who gave out merchandise received nothing in return.
These are some reasons why the use of promotional merchandise for advertising did not work for some companies.
You need to carefully choose what items to give for free. Do not consider hygiene related products since they are quite degrading. Unless you are a doctor or dentist, you cannot hand out free toothbrushes or feminine hygiene products. Worse, these items might have nothing to do with your brand or the products that you are selling.
You followed a stereotype
In today’s age where racial sensitivity and gender diversity are a priority, it is a terrible idea if you decide to follow stereotypes. For instance, even if you have great intentions of giving out free nail files or mirrors (and people will appreciate them too), it is not a good idea when you give them during a women’s event. You are only promoting the stereotype that women are only interested in their appearance, and you do not pay attention to substance. You are alienating them in the process, and your efforts could backfire.
You opted for something controversial
You already know what can trigger people. Talking about politics and religion can be divisive. Make sure that your products do not have anything related to these issues. For instance, if you decided to use a promotional garment, t-shirt printing might have been your first choice. But you need to be careful of the shirt design. You cannot include, for example, a Biblical verse on the shirt since it could turn people off. You can use quotes from famous people, but make sure they are not politically divisive.
You cracked an offensive joke
There is nothing wrong in injecting humour in your advertising efforts. The problem is when you choose a joke that offends a particular group of people. You might find it funny, but it could backfire. Sometimes, the things you find funny do not have the same impact on others. You need to consult with other people in your team first if you want to include something funny related to your promotional merchandise.
The product is of low-quality
Even if you are giving away free stuff, it does not mean you should give items of poor quality. You are only encouraging people to throw those items away. It would be better not to give anything at all if what you plan on offering is unusable due to poor quality.
Given these reasons, you need to be extra careful in determining what items to give, and what message to send. You want to promote your brand in the process and not hurt anyone.