Passion + Promo: A Journey into the Promotional Products Industry


It’s funny how the path of our careers can lead us to unexpected but exciting destinations. If you had asked me years ago where I saw myself in the future, I doubt I would’ve mentioned the promotional products industry. And yet, here I am, absolutely amazed by every facet of this dynamic field! Let me take you on a journey from how my studies in public relations and inadvertent exposure to promotional products laid the foundation for my eventual, and maybe inevitable, foray into the industry we all love today.

Marketing Magic: College and Creativity

In college, I majored in public relations, which may not seem like an obvious stepping stone to my current career, but hear me out! PR taught me how to communicate and engage with people effectively, honing my ability to think outside the box to deliver compelling messages. The more I learned about marketing, the more I realized how important it is to captivate an audience and leave a lasting impression.

And that’s where promotional products first appear in our journey! I first learned of the power of promo through my sorority. Promotional products were a fun and creative way to get people’s attention and tell a story. In an effort to promote our philanthropy and bring awareness to community programs, we gave out mason jars branded with our letters and filled with sweet tea to passing students on campus.

sweet tea with DG

The pop-up was a huge success, and everyone had such a great time handing out jars and getting to know their fellow classmates. Through our sweet tea promotion, we were able to bring a lot of positive attention to our sorority and the community programs we supported.

Discovering Promotional Product Trade Shows

My first real taste of a promotional product trade show came during a college event. I went to the University of North Texas (UNT), also nicknamed the Mean Green, and every year they hosted an event called The Mean Green Fling. This was a “trade show” where students would snag tons of UNT-branded freebies and giveaways. Typically the event was hosted on the library mall, a long U-shaped area in front of the Mean Green Tower. I noticed how everyone would always flock to the booths offering free giveaways first. Whether it was pens, water bottles, or quirky gadgets, these simple items would create a buzz that even the most impressive presentations couldn’t match.

mean green fling
giving out t-shirts at mean green fling
Source: UNT

It was one of my favorite days each year. I loved seeing how promos could build a sense of community and was fascinated by how a small, tangible item could bridge the gap between a student and a brand. Plus, I loved getting free stuff!

As I began to explore the promotional products industry further, I found myself enchanted by its endless possibilities. This was an industry where creativity truly had no bounds, where even the smallest item could have a huge impact. It was here that my love for this industry blossomed.

Social Media Stardom

My passion for promo really came alive when I became more active on Instagram and Facebook. I started following different brands that showed off their latest and coolest promotional items, and many would run contests where those items would be part of the giveaway. I connected and engaged with these brands regularly, and it’s been so exciting to discover and share unique and innovative products from what are now some of my favorite brands to buy from.

From funky phone stands to personalized keychains, discovering giveaways on social media creates anticipation and engagement like never before. It’s a win-win situation for everyone: brands get exposure, and their followers receive fun, useful products!

instagram giveaway
Source: Instagram

What’s the Moral of the Story?

Remember earlier when I said I studied public relations in school and the more I learned about marketing, the more I realized how important it is to captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression? Well, I’m living proof that promo works, and promo left quite the lasting impression for me.

Through my sorority, I witnessed first-hand how a creative promotion had a positive impact on our ‘brand’, and brought awareness to local community programs. Through the university’s “trade show”, I witnessed the buzz promo products create, and learned that promo isn’t just pens, there are endless product possibilities to promote a brand. And through social media, I became a regular buyer of brands that participated in contests with giveaways.

As a promotional products distributor, you can open your customers’ eyes to the power of promo by taking them on my same journey. From consultative selling to inviting them to end-user trade shows and even implementing a good social media strategy, your customers gain valuable insight into this industry through each interaction. Telling your customers that promo products work might be effective, but showing them how to make promo work for them will skyrocket your business to the next level.

To see more ways you can inspire your customers, click here!

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(Content Marketing Coordinator)

Ashley is the Content Marketing Coordinator at SAGE. She has a true passion for writing and blogging. In her free time, you can find her dancing ballet, cooking up one of her favorite recipes, or spending time with her husband Joe and puppy, named Pickles.

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