Promotional gifts can be a mixed bag. On one hand, no business owner wants to waste money on an object that might just be thrown away. But on the other hand, the right promotional item can help build customer relationships while also improving brand recognition. The holiday season is a prime time to present promotional gifts to your clientele, business partners and other people who support your company. But before you start exercising the company credit card, there are some points to consider. Here are three elements to choosing the best promotional holiday gifts and suggestions for each.

Be Strategic

Being thoughtful when selecting promotional items will work to your advantage. Rather than putting your company name and logo on any random thing, try to anticipate where the recipient will use the product. That will help you keep your company name at the forefront through the holiday season and beyond. Here are some suggestions:

  • Fitness centers might give gear bags, yoga mats or towels.
  • Restaurants, cooking-class instructors or specialty grocery stores might gift small cooking tools, a branded cutting board or a small container of an unusual spice.
  • Nonprofit organizations could consider giving calendars with the group’s major events already marked, decorative magnets printed with relevant phone numbers or canvas totes with the organization’s logo on the side.

Focus on Longevity

No one wants to give a gift that will be quickly discarded. It’s important to show customer appreciation with items that can be used regularly now and in the future. Plus, this approach will ensure you are getting maximum brand exposure while also solving a problem for the giftee. Customized products that are functional year-round will please any recipient. Consider these options:

  • Insulated metal or heavy duty plastic water bottles with comfortable mouthpieces
  • Clothing or hats in universal styles
  • Electronics accessories such as thumb drives, phone chargers or mouse pads in a fun shape

Consider Psychology

Marketing research shows that 52 percent of people who receive a valuable promotional gift ended up doing business with the company. After receiving a holiday treat, giftees are more likely to feel the need to give something back — ideally their patronage. And, if you give them something they truly treasure, they will have a higher opinion about your brand. Try one of these gifts:

  • Gourmet food items that have a long shelf life such as popcorn or chocolate
  • Functional products like reusable grocery bags, high-quality writing utensils or leather portfolios
  • Sticky notes with a comical illustration or other helpful office supplies

Of course, the main reason to share holiday gifts with customers and colleagues is to show appreciation. But customized, functional items can do double duty as brand boosters and relationship builders. With the thousands of options for promotional merchandise, you are sure to find the gift that hits the right balance.