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What is Promotional Marketing? Getting Your Swag On for Your Startup

Let’s explore promotional marketing and how to get your swag on for your newest business endeavor.  

Knowing how to market your small business or startup appropriately can take a lot of work. Should you focus all your attention on digital marketing? Or is offline marketing still worth it in 2022? The short answer is that it requires a thoughtful promotional marketing strategy that utilizes digital and offline marketing efforts. But you may be asking yourself, “what is promotional marketing? How do I even get started? Where does marketing swag fit into all of this?” 

That’s why here at Pinnacle Promotions, we are an extension of your marketing efforts and are here to help you as you begin to build your enterprise.

Let’s tackle the most significant part of your marketing strategy — promotional marketing. 

What is promotional marketing?

If you are just starting out, you are most likely feeling the urgency of getting your organization off the ground. Sales may be your most critical focus, but without a thoughtful promotional marketing strategy, you will ultimately run into bumps in the road.

So what is promotional marketing? states in its article, Examples of Seven Types of Promotions, “Promotional strategies are an excellent way for companies and organizations to communicate with a variety of audiences.” Each promotional element must be thought out and discussed as you develop the overall strategy for your business. 

Here’s a short list of the types of promotional marketing strategies:

  • Personal selling – products or services are sold through person-to-person conversations.
  • Sales promotions – short-term sales initiatives such as discounts, coupons or giveaways. 
  • Direct Marketing – directly reaching potential customers through direct mail, emails or even telemarketing to advertise products, services and related deals.  
  • Digital marketing – utilizes content, search engine optimization, social media, email and affiliate marketing to boost your brand, helping you reach a global audience.
  • General advertising – reach a mass audience through areas such as newspaper ads, magazines, TV commercials and billboards. 
  • Public Relations – campaigns centered around social media, press releases, publicity stunts and influencer endorsements to help boost public brand awareness.
  • Sponsorships – paying to help fund a specific event or individual to support a cause and boost your brand reach.

Taking a balanced approach to your marketing strategy will involve all types of promotional marketing. It is up to you how you develop and implement your plan. Just be sure you understand that each plays a vital role! 

Getting started with marketing swag 

“When selecting a giveaway item, it’s important to not only consider the budget, but if the item will be useful to your target customer.”  – Ryan Salay

After creating your promotional marketing strategy, you will need to take a proactive approach to the areas of marketing you deem the most important. Marketing swag should be on that list! Marketing swag will help drive customers cost-effectively and get your brand out into the world. 

So, where does marketing swag fit into all of this? Well, you can think of company swag as an extension of your direct marketing efforts. You are effectively marketing your organization through branded items you can give or sell to your customers. 

Ryan Salay, the Digital Merchandising Manager at Pinnacle Promotions, explains, “Depending on the item, recipients are likely to bring them back home, to their office, or use them in their daily lives, with your logo right there to remind them where it came from.” 

Let’s say, for example — you just finished working with a new client. They ask for your card to pass along to a neighbor, but you’ve just run out of business cards! However, you do have notepads and pens on hand, so you give your client a few extra pens and notepads to hand to the neighbors. 

Best swag for startup businesses

You will want to choose marketing swag that will make the right impression but won’t bust your marketing budget all in one go. Ryan shares some smart promotional tactics to help you get started, “When selecting a giveaway item, it’s important to not only consider the budget, but if the item will be useful to your target customer.” 

He goes on, “Avoid gimmicky products that are likely to be thrown away and instead focus on something you envision your audience using in their day to day lives, whether that be a tech accessory, a pen, a calendar, or something unique! You can even add contact information like a website or phone number as a part of your imprint to make it easy for your recipient to reach back out to you.”

That’s why it’s important to look at cost-effective and functional products customers and employees will want to use daily. Here are our favorite starter swag items for your small businesses and startups. 

Marketing swag ideas for startups and small businesses employees

Your employees are the frontline of your business! Marketing swag helps establish unity across your brand and build rapport and grow relationships with your team. 


When you get your business up and running, you will want to outfit yourself and your team in promotional apparel, such as branded t-shirts and hoodies. (Be sure to find the best custom hoodies). Not only will this provide a uniform look to your team, but it will also help with exposure! 

Office and desk products 

Promotional office and desk products are an effective way to showcase your brand around the office and provide usefulness! Promotional items such as mousepads, wireless chargers, and other desk organizers can help your employees stay on task and promote brand unity.


Even in the digital age, people love using branded notebooks to take notes! Your employees need a practical, handy way to jot down innovative ideas or to record meeting highlights.  

Lunch coolers/food containers

Lunch coolers and food containers make useful employee gifts! And these promotional items are just great for toting lunch to the office -– they are great for game day coolers, glamping and travel – which means your brand gets more exposure! 

Computer backpacks

Nothing is more convenient than carrying all your professional essentials with you on the go. That’s why custom computer backpacks are essential for your employees — with a wide variety of stylish choices to ensure your team has room for all their necessities.  

Marketing swag ideas for prospective customers and giveaways 

Promotional giveaways are great because they are budget-friendly, and you can pass these items along to your customers or future partners. 

Tote bags

Custom printed branded tote bags are cost-effective and beneficial items that help get your brand out into local communities and provide a sustainable way to promote! 

Tech giveaways

Custom tech giveaways are a unique promotional option — which customers love! Branded tech also provides customers with a valuable item that all households and offices need.


You never know when you will need a pen! Having custom pens on hand to give away is a great way to get started with your marketing swag. 

Custom keychains

Custom keychains can be fun ways to get your logo into your community! If you are looking for a more functional keychain, choose the carabiner, LED light or bottle opener types. 

Grow kits

You should plan to set your brand apart, and customizable grow kits are an excellent way to do so! They make lovely gifts and help raise brand awareness. Your customers will remember you every time they look at their plants! 

How to take your promotional swag to the next level

Now that you have a better understanding of promotional marketing and getting your marketing swag started, it’s time to take this knowledge out into the world. We have a few suggestions for utilizing your swag and getting your brand name out there! Here are our favorites:

  • Trade shows – an excellent opportunity to see new industry developments, meet and network with others, see what your competitors are doing and pass out free giveaways for customers or potential partners to take home.
  • Chamber meetings – help you stay in touch with your area businesses and help you make necessary connections. 
  • Local music festivals – offer a fun, engaging environment and allow you to give away your more unique promotional items. 
  • Local businesses – we cannot stress enough how important it is to meet your neighbors! Spending an afternoon going out and networking with local businesses can hugely impact your startup — especially if you leave them a few branded goodies! Do this periodically to help maintain your reputation and build potential partnerships.
  • After completion of service – give your customers something to walk away with. Functional items such as pens, notepads or keychains are great giveaways to help show your customers that you appreciate their business.

Ryan agrees — stating how these events can have a big impact, “Small giveaway items benefit businesses by keeping their brand top of mind without breaking the bank. At trade shows and other events, even the smallest giveaways can attract attention in a crowd, which brings more potential customers face to face with your company and engages conversation.”

When can you start growing your brand?

Once you’ve established your business and are ready to grow your brand, you can begin to think about niche marketing swag items that apply to your industry. These high-end promotional products may be more costly, but you aim to establish a relationship with your partners and employees to create a lasting story with them. 

Here’s a short example: Kathy is an up-and-coming real estate agent. She just closed on a beautiful new home for her clients. Instead of gifting these clients branded pens or notepads, she gives the young couple a custom charcuterie board with her logo. This makes for a great housewarming gift, and her brand will grab attention at dinner parties. Plus, it leaves her clients with a warm, fuzzy feeling that she genuinely values their business. It’s a win-win.

Partnering with Pinnacle Promotions

It’s important to remember to take your promotional marketing strategies a little at a time, as with most things in life. If you begin to feel overwhelmed about budgeting or how you can attend local events, just try to focus on one area at a time before moving on to the next. It’s all about building the foundation of your business!

The best part is that you are not alone – Pinnacle Promotions is here to help! We help you find the best promotional products for your budget as you promote your small business or startup. We can send Idea Kits™ right to your inbox with creative ways to showcase your brand and grow your business. For more information on kits or if you are interested in a specific product to get your promotional marketing started, call us at 877.300.2007 today!

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