How to Buy the Perfect Promotional Items

  • Sep 8, 2021


Good morning, I am Steve Graff, aka “The Green Monkey”,

of Green Monkey Promotions. 

Right up front, please forgive the notes.  If it looks like I’m reading some of this, it’s because I am.

I had my presentation planned and all laid out perfectly, then I just couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head and I thought they were far more important than the dog and pony show I had planned, so this might be a little different than the standard presentation.

I created and opened Green Monkey Promotions in September of 2015 after I had been in the promotional marketing business as either an owner or an account executive since 1998. 

We sold our first company, Graff-X Marketing, in 2011, and from that time until Green Monkey opened in 2015 I served as an account executive for the people who had purchased our business, maintaining the clients we had spent years cultivating and building solid relationships with.

In that time between 1998 and 2015, I sold millions of promotional items with thousands of different logos, messages, and brands imprinted on them in one form or another.  Some of those I sold to people who are sitting in this room right now.

If I never learned anything in all that time, I did learn that when buying promotional items, there are some basic truths that can really help increase the effectiveness of those items and help the client achieve whatever goals they had set for it, if in fact they had a goal set at all.

Today I’m going to talk about some things you should absolutely do anytime you are considering using promotional products in any marketing you might be doing.



First, and without a doubt the most important, talk to a promotional products consultant.

I know, the “consultant” word sounds expensive, but you’ll waste more time and money if you don’t speak with an experienced consultant who can guide you through the process.

In reality, there’s no more expense involved when speaking to an experienced professional who understands the promotional products industry.

For a search that would take you hours to perform, an industry expert can perform in about 10 minutes.

Because we know where to look, industry trends, and have daily experience researching and searching for products, we can save you loads of time and recommend much better options for your needs.

Yes, I have an incredible website with thousands and thousands of products you can search through looking for just the perfect item.

The big problem there is that you really don’t know how nice that item is by just looking at a picture on a monitor,

you have no idea if that particular supplier is dependable or if they consistently miss target dates,

or even if that product is still available. 

There are currently over 3000 suppliers and almost 1 million different items in the industry database to which I subscribe.  Sorting through all of that can be an overwhelming task for anyone.

Now, take the already overwhelming task of searching for, and hopefully finding, an item that you want and combine it with actually purchasing the item from an online vendor with whom you’ve had no communication, no relationship, and zero familiarity. 

Who is going to do the art for the item?  Is it in the right format?  Is it the right size?  Will it be legible when it’s finally printed on the item?  What if they arrive and they aren’t like you wanted them?  Who do you call?






The second most important thing you must do before you buy any promotional product in the future is to HAVE A PURPOSE.


In order to get the most benefit from the promos you buy, you must have a plan.

What is your goal in giving out the products?

What are the demographics of the recipients?

How will you distribute the items?

Do you have a follow-up plan in place after you give the products out?

All of these questions are important to answer BEFORE buying promotional products.


Without a purpose, a goal, or a defined, measurable objective, you really are just wasting your money.


An experienced promotional products consultant can help guide you through the process to help ensure you get a good return on your investment.




The last rule I want to discuss today centers around the actual promotional items you buy.

To put it simply, buy something useful.

Studies have shown that 80% of recipients keep promotional items and continue to use them because they are useful. This seems like common sense, but the cheap stick pens and the keychain fobs people chew on continue to be big sellers to the uneducated.

You are smarter than that. I know you are.


The real test for this rule is simple—If it were given to you, would it end up in your kitchen junk drawer?  Or worse, in the trash?  If you can answer yes to either of those, DON’T BUY IT.

That doesn’t mean it has to be some super unique, expensive, or fancy item. 

It does, however, need to be USEFUL.

A good quality pen is boring, but if it writes well and is comfortable to hold, it’s USEFUL.  The person you give it to will keep it, use it, and see your name every time they pick it up.

A wall calendar doesn’t excite very many people, but it’s USEFUL.  The average wall calendar in an office is looked at over 4000 times in a year.  That’s 4000 times that client or prospect sees your name.

A coffee mug isn’t going to light any fireworks, but if it sips well, holds a BUNCH of coffee, and doesn’t look stupid, then it’s also USEFUL.  Remember, there are 450 million cups of coffee consumed every DAY in America.  Wouldn’t you like your business to be seen that many times?




After more than 20 years of selling widgets, tchachkies,

t-shirts and ball caps, there’s not a whole lot out there that I haven’t seen in this business.

That’s the kind of experience you should take advantage of when building your next marketing campaign.

Find an expert you can trust, determine the ultimate objective for the campaign, then let that expert guide you in selecting the perfect products to accomplish the mission.


In a nutshell, that’s what we focus on at Green Monkey Promotions. 


In fact, I’m going to close with our company’s published mission statement:


Our mission is to provide our clients with creative, relevant, and targeted solutions to their business branding and promotional needs.  These solutions should produce measurable results, be cost effective, and provide our clients with the results they need by addressing specific goals and objectives for each and every project.


Thank you for your time, now go have the BEST DAY EVER.

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