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  • Industry FAQs


Promotional products are useful and/or symbolic products which are used in advertising and communication as communication vehicles, goodwill reminders, signs, gifts and incentives.


Advertising Specialties

Ad specialties have these key elements: 1) an advertising or promotional message; 2) placed on (or with) a useful item, and 3) given with no strings attached.


Give a useful item with some strings attached, example, buy a book, get a free bookmark.


A promotional product is offered as an incentive to produce a specific action. Example – reach a sales target and get a free vacation (incentive travel programs, sales incentives).


Plaques, service pins, trophies, award jewellery and other gifts that signify performance or honours can be categorized as recognition awards.

Business Gifts

Typically given by businesses to customers and employees, and occasionally, suppliers. In the context used here, business gifts are not extravagant gifts and trips. Gift-giving reasons cited by companies are: To thank customers, to develop business, to recognize employee performance and longevity, because customers expect them, and others.


Two main business categories make up the promotional products industry:

Suppliers make up the production end of the industry. They are firms that manufacture, import, convert, imprint, or otherwise process the wearables, writing instruments, recognition awards, business gifts, and other items offered for sale through the promotional products distributor.

Distributors develop ideas for the use of promotional products as an advertising medium, buy such items from suppliers and offer a variety of value-added services to the promotion buyer/client, including unique product ideas, creative distribution solutions and insight on the different imprinting methods, just to name a few.


There is no formal registration of businesses that participate in the promotional products industry. Accordingly, there is no “official” number of distributors or suppliers that is known. An independent study conducted by Bramm Research in 2013 estimates the total industry revenues and employees based on the number of distributors and suppliers in PPPC’s member and prospect database. As of August 2013, PPPC’s database contained records for 5,224 promotional product distributors and 925 promotional product suppliers. All members and prospects within the PPPC database were sent an invitation to participate in the study via e-mail. 7% of PPPC distributor members and 11.5% of suppliers members replied to the survey while less than 2% of prospects elected to participate. Click here for the highlights of the full report. PPPC will produce the next sales volume survey in 2016.


Distributor selling ranges from simply presenting products to operating as sales promotion agencies for their clients. The latter creates full-blown promotional program and offer such services as copywriting, artwork, catalogue development, warehousing and fulfillment.

By working with a distributor, promotion buyers can save time and energy in their search for the right products at the right price. The distributor’s expertise allows him/her to easily find and bring products to the client, thus providing a “one-stop shopping” service.

This type of service also builds long-term relationships between the distributor and the client. Through knowledge and experience, the distributor is better able to ascertain the needs of the promotion buyer in order to obtain the desired results.


  1. Determine the objective of a promotion.
  2. Work out a plan to achieve it through the use of promotional products.
  3. Source the required items from suppliers.
  4. Or custom design and produce unique items (with the help of PPPC suppliers).
  5. Develop support print material such as posters, brochures, fliers and catalogues.
  6. Develop and implement a distribution plan.
  7. See the campaign through to its completion, and
  8. Measure results.


Product sales are made on the basis of being in the right place at the right time with the customer asking a have-you-got question.

Idea or program selling is rooted in product selling as it requires a knowledge of what promotional products are available and appropriate. Yet it also requires an understanding of how a client’s business works, including their goals and obstacles. Idea selling requires having insight into specific promotional or communication problems the client might be facing and being able to solve these problems with promotional products applications.


Promotional Products is being positioned more and more, not as a pure product, but as part of the promotion buyer’s promotional and communications mix. Click here for more information.

High speed information gives audiences a choice about whether they wish to be exposed to mass advertising. Promotional Products advertising has proven to be much more effective in its unobtrusive, targeted, personalized approach.

Due to its useful nature, promotional products tend to be kept and used, leading to voluntary repeated exposure, recognition and retention of the advertiser’s name and/or message.

The use of promotional products is most effective when the target audience is specifically identified. Items can then be selected to appeal to that audience, creating a positive response and eliminating waste distribution.

Which products to choose when there are tens of thousands of products to choose from This task is most easily accomplished with the help of a professional promotional product distributor.