The History of Promotional Items And Why They Work

Promotional merchandise may seem like a recent phenomenon, but in fact businesses have been giving away promotional items for longer than you might think. The fact that this continues today is proof that it works.

Early promotional items

The first records of promotional giveaways refer to the commemorative buttons worn at the inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States in 1789. It is unclear whether these buttons were worn earlier to promote the campaign period or were simply worn to celebrate success.

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A more significant moment in marketing history was the production of book bags with the name of a shoe shop printed on them, which were given away to local school children. The ideas man behind this simple marketing project was the Ohio printer Jasper Meek, who convinced the shoe shop owner that this would bring in more business. With this, in 1886, the concept of promotional items was born. The industry had grown sufficiently by the early 1900s to prompt the establishment of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), a dedicated trade association.

In the early twentieth century promotional items were used to boost sales of breakfast cereal. A free toy was placed in the packet and kids couldn’t wait to find it hidden among the cornflakes. Parents succumbed to pester power and the toys proved to be an effective marketing tool for many years.


Free gifts would continue to be distributed, some with corporate branding others without, through the next few decades, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that there was a sudden explosion in demand for corporate gifts as we know them today.

Why do promotional gifts work?

Most people naturally enjoy receiving a free gift. Whether we can afford to buy the item ourselves seems to be irrelevant, hence the popularity of luxury “swag bags” among affluent celebrities. It’s just the joy of getting a freebie that counts. Whether the freebie is retained is determined primarily by its relevance to the recipient.

2704 Verve Basic - white dark blue 288 Studies have shown that over 80% of people decide whether to keep a promotional item based on its usefulness. The perceived value of the item matters far less. According to research by the PPAI, corporate branding on the freebie is a positive aspect with around 20 per cent of recipients retaining a gift precisely for the convenience of having the contact details to hand.

Out of sight out of mind

It’s a sad fact but true: companies are easily forgotten. It’s essential to make the connection with your audience and keep making it over and over again. It’s rather like parenting. Studies show that a child may need to hear the message to do something at least one hundred times before they will remember consistently without prompting. It’s the same with marketing. You may need to remind your customers many times before they will remember to use your services or products consistently without prompting. Just a small item can be enough to ensure that your company stays on your customer’s radar screen. Office branding items, such as those offered by SAPD, are ideal to support this connection process, with their constant presence on a work desk.

Freebie winners

The epitome of brand success has to be when simple promotional promotional items become collectible items. A large fizzy drinks company’s promotional items handed out at various Olympic events were snapped up, not just for refreshment purposes, but also to acquire the limited edition branded bottle. This is a sign of a winning brand. To make your brand a winner, contact the corporate branding experts at

The Value Of Trade Shows In Marketing Your Brand

It would be easy to imagine in today’s world of digital marketing that some of the older methods of raising brand awareness, such as attending trade shows, might now be obsolete. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Trade shows are the perfect opportunity for the face to face contact that customers want, and should form a key part of your marketing strategy, combined with other forms of marketing.

Digital versus face to face

Research has shown that face to face contact is a fundamental human need, with the potential to prolong our lifespan. Albertsons, a leading American supermarket chain, closed down all of its self-service checkouts on the basis of customers’ preference for human contact. Digital marketing has tremendous strengths, but offering a personal touch is not one of them. However useful techniques such as remarketing might be, they cannot fool customers into thinking that it is personal service. Customer acquisition is not always easy to achieve via digital marketing. The average visit to a web page lasts less than a minute. That’s not long to get your message across. Contrast that with the amount of time one of your representatives could spend talking to a customer at a trade show, and you can start to see the benefits.

In order to get the most from attending a trade show, some planning is required.

Do your research

The event organisers will have expected attendee demographics. Make sure these match your target market before booking your place. Trade shows can only work if they allow you to connect with the right audience.

Identify your goals for the trade show

It might be new sales leads, reinvigorating relationships with existing customers, or gathering customer preferences and contact data, or all of these. Remember to measure afterwards whether your goals were achieved.

Get ahead of the crowd

Explore options to have relevant corporate gifts included in the welcome pack which is handed out at the entrance to all attendees. This gets your brand in people’s minds first. Make sure you include directions to your stand so that you can follow through on customer contact.

Attract people to your stand

All your representatives should be dressed in corporate clothes, so they stand out from your competitors. Use clear and consistent corporate branding to draw people to your stall, both prospective new customers and current ones. Trade shows are a fantastic opportunity to re-engage with existing customers, reminding them of what you offer and new products and services. Providing simple refreshments is another way to entice people to your area, and branded sweets packets to take away are a great option.

Keep them there

Retain people at your stand by providing something for them to do. People love competitions and these give you a chance to keep customers at your stall while they complete an entry form – perhaps using a branded pen which they get to keep. If possible, give people a chance to try out your product, or have simple case studies to review, with visuals of services you provide. Above all, talk to your customers, and make them feel valued and special.

Provide something extra

If your budget allows, sponsor a special feature at the trade show, for example a chill out zone or a VIP area, perhaps with a luxury branded gift.


So the answer to the question do trade shows still work, is yes they certainly do. Digital marketing complements face to face marketing, it does not replace it. Salt & Pepper supply a vast range of high quality corporate gifts and events products, so if you want to get your company noticed at your next trade show head to

How Lumpy Mail Can Benefit Your Business

Companies these days need to think outside of the box when fighting for market share with competitors. The internet has forced competition among companies to become fierce, many trading on a global scale, and being one among thousands of other companies providing the same products and services. These companies need something that separates them from their competitors, and the regular marketing of letters and leaflets is nothing special or innovative.

Innovative and creative solutions

Corporate gifts are an excellent opportunity for companies to take advantage of innovative corporate branding. Increasing their visibility to their target audience and ensuring that they make a name for themselves. There are so many great ideas that can make an impact on the customer, ensuring your name is seen, known and remembered.

The advantage to lumpy mail, and what sets it apart from regular marketing materials is that it is a useful item which showcases your company name and logo. This is the case whether you choose to supply customers with branded umbrellas, key rings, clothing or mugs. Each item will bear your name and logo, further promoting the business to those that see it.

Improve visibility, leads and revenue

Lumpy mail creates excitement within the customer’s organisation. There is nothing more exciting than a package arriving and its promotional materials from a supplier, items that can be used daily and enjoyed. While the customer is excited, you are looking at the number of leads it can generate every single time they use the item you sent to them.

Another advantage to lumpy mail is that it’s not that expensive, only slightly more than what you would pay for a batch of leaflets to be printed by a professional printing company. The difference is that many of your competitors are printing leaflets, you are choosing a marketing campaign that sets you apart from the rest, makes your company name memorable and can offer you a good return on your investment.

Make an impact

Every company sets a budget aside for their online and offline marketing efforts. What many companies don’t realise is that these two are codependent. Using lumpy mail can improve your website traffic, which in turn increases your sales turn over.

When choosing lumpy mail items, you want to make that impact on the purchaser for that company, ensuring you are the name they think of when they need the products or services that you provide. Stay away from the boring marketing campaigns that are being adopted by every other company around the world, be creative, be innovative and think out of the box.
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Lumpy mail has been proven to work. These items are useful items which are used by people on a daily basis, the difference is that they bear your company name and logo, maybe even contact information. So every time the recipient uses the mug you sent them or signs something with the branded pen, it is seen, remembered and imprinted in their mind for when they need you.

Bespoke Corporate Gift Branding Service Gives Companies The Edge

Hertfordshire-based corporate gifts specialist Salt & Pepper Design (SAPD) has launched a bespoke service to meet the unique needs for its many clients.

SAPD understands that competition is fierce in most sectors, and is keen to produce goods which help companies stand out from the crowd.

The firm also feels there is much to be gained from using England’s exploits at this summer’s World Cup as part of an effective corporate branding strategy. Many major brands tap into the spirit of the nation when a large sporting event is being played out and SAPD feels smaller companies would be mad to miss out on such a great opportunity.


Mark Gilmour, managing director of SAPD, said:

“Being able to give prospective clients corporate gifts baring your company’s logo is one of the most effective ways of making a lasting impression. Obviously, the quality of your products and services will be the main thing clients look at, but when competitors are circling, having something which stands out can be key to success.

I’m very proud that we’re able to offer a bespoke service because it means we can help companies to have an edge. We thrive on the challenge of creating the uncreated and there is no limit to what’s available. This is a World Cup year and we expect a patriotic wave to sweep the county in the next few weeks. I think this in itself presents a fantastic opportunity for companies to improve their marketing strategies and capture the imaginations of potential customers.”

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Corporate gifts are a great way to literally place your brand’s vision, value and personality into the hands of would be customers. Putting your professional logo onto something unique can really strike a chord with those you wish to do business with.

SAPD has access to more than one hundred factories and can create bespoke products for your business with short lead-times and lower minimum quantities. The companies range includes everything from mugs and keyrings to branded clothing, travel equipment and, aptly, footballs.

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SAPD is a forward thinking corporate branding specialist based in Bovingdon, Hertfordshire. The company’s goal is to turn great ideas into innovative products at the most cost-effective price possible. It is part of the same group as RePackme fulfilment and logistics and the popular leisure range Footypants, which has been worn by a number of Premier League and Football League stars.

For more information please contact or call 01442 831077.

Contact Information:

M.D. Mark Gilmour


58 High Street, Bovingdon

Hemel Hempstead


Tel: ++44(0)1442 831 077

7 Reasons Why Corporate Gifts Will Improve Your Bottom Line

There are many ways in which gifts with corporate branding can increase the profitability of your company. Here are our top reasons why you should get involved:

Increasing brand awareness

In today’s world brand awareness is crucial. People trust and return to brands they recognise, understand and value. At exhibitions and conferences, make your company stand out from the crowd by offering a really useful give-away item, with distinctive branding. Always make it something which the person is likely to keep, or pass on to another prospective customer.


Customer acquisition

Gifts can be used for prospective clients as an incentive to becoming a customer or just for showing interest in the company. Even a very small gift starts to forge a customer-supplier relationship in a person’s mind.

Customer retention

Since the cost of acquiring new customers is much greater than retaining existing clients, it is important to reward customer loyalty. Gifts are an ideal way to show your best customers that they are valued.

Small gifts can also be used to remind customers of your presence in the market. Particularly in sectors where there is a long gap between repeat business opportunities, a gift can make sure your customers don’t forget about you. A product with a long life, such as a USB flash drive, is ideal if your budget allows.

Obtaining customer data

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A small corporate gift can be the perfect incentive for persuading customers, or prospective customers, to complete a survey. The customer is rewarded with a small branded item, such as a pen, while you are rewarded with the customer data you need and some brand awareness and marketing into the bargain.

Employee loyalty reward

You can use gifts to reward employee loyalty, for example, for long service or for exceptional performance, either by an individual or a team. Choose wisely for employees – you know them, so you should be able to choose something with personal relevance. If your employees travel for work, something useful such as good quality luggage might be appreciated. Suitcases with corporate branding have the added bonus of huge potential for brand awareness as they travel through airports, railway stations, and so on.


Award schemes

Using corporate gifts as part of an award scheme within your industry lends a degree of authority to your company. People will see your company as a knowledgeable and respected organisation whose opinions matter.

Building other relationships

Vendors are often overlooked by organisations and yet key suppliers can be critical to the effective running of your business. This is an easy success, since suppliers will not usually expect any form of gift, and will therefore be surprised and delighted to receive one.

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Gifts needn’t cost the earth, but choose carefully to make sure you give items which are relevant to your customer. If you’re giving something simple like a pen, choose one which has something about it to make it stand out from the next pen – perhaps a really high quality pen, or a quirky highlighter pen. Match your gifts to the situation. If customers at an event pride themselves on their green credentials, give away a recycled pen, eco-friendly stationery or even a water powered calculator.

Specialist corporate gift suppliers Salt and Pepper at can help advise you. It may not be easy to measure precisely the increase in profit, but it is clear that, used wisely, corporate gifts can have a significant positive impact on your organisation’s bottom line.

Best wishes,


5 Reasons Why A Strong Visual Brand Increases Sales

Corporate branding works; we all appreciate this at some level. You only need to look at the iconic brands we have here in the UK to appreciate that fact. So why does it work and what is the rationale behind using branding to increase sales.

1. Creates a strong first impression

As with many things in life, our first impressions of a brand are generally formed by the imagery it utilises. Key to a brand’s visual appeal is the quality of its logo, which forms the ‘face’ of the brand and is its single most visible manifestation. A well designed and relevant logo that is reproduced not only in a brand’s advertising campaigns, but across all employee correspondence and on any corporate gifts, can help to raise the profile of the brand.


2. Strong corporate merchandise

Applying corporate branding to something useful, like a pen, computer mouse, umbrella or MP3 player dock is an unobtrusive way of repeatedly advertising a brand. If you are considering investing in branded corporate gifts, it is worth choosing good quality products, such as those supplied by SAPD, as no brand wants to be associated with poor quality goods and the longer they last, the greater your brand exposure.

Whilst corporate branding does not have an easily measurable impact on the sales ledger, it does plant your brand name in people’s minds and means that they are more likely to remember you when they consider a brand-relevant purchase.

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3. Helps loyal customers locate your brand amongst competitors

An easily recognisable visual that stands out, for all the right reasons, helps those customers that have established brand loyalty to locate your brand amongst a sea of competitors. No matter how good your product or service is if your visuals are weak, you will lose out to stronger brands that are more easily identifiable in the market place.

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4. Encourages new customers to choose your brand

At any point of sale, there will be customers who have strong loyalties to a particular brand and are unlikely to be swayed by the visual appeal of a new or different brand. However, there will also be those who have little or no brand loyalty and are likely to go for the most attractive option. Visual appeal plays a huge part in a consumer’s assessment of a brand and strong brands will command more attention and higher price than weak ones.


5. Increases success of more ‘passive’ forms of advertising

Much of the advertising put in front of today’s consumers is perceived as intrusive and annoying. The key to successful advertising is to establish a visually strong brand and introduce it to consumers at a time when they are receptive to it. This explains the continuing popularity of television advertising, as it targets consumers when they are relaxed and less likely to view the advert as an intrusion. In contrast, an online pop-up ad is likely to be hampering the completion of a specific task, such as placing an order or searching for directions. In this context, an established, strong visual brand that can command attention from side bar ad space, without having to clamour for attention in centre screen, will garner a more positive response from consumers and ultimately achieve greater sales.

Best Wishes,


Support Our Guys In Brazil

With the world cup just weeks away we thought you might like a little ‘freebie’ from us.

As you might be aware the team SAPD like football. So much so that a number of us will be flying out to Brazil to support our boys and do some work next month!…Honest.

If you have arrived at this page we will have sent you a private link.

Below is a picture of some car air fresheners fashioned in a football theme. If you would like us to pop some in the post for you either give us a call on 01442 831077 or email with the word World Cup 2014 in the subject line.

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Best wishes,

Mark and the SAPD team


North Face New Range 2014

North Face

Most of the jacket, inside and out, is ripstop nylon, which feels nice and light (15D 33g/m2) but easily tough enough for general use on the hill (udging up granite chimneys might be an exception). Its shiny smoothness makes it easy to layer the Hoodie, either on top of underclothes when used as your main jacket, or beneath something warmer if you’re adding it to a more substantial winter outfit.

The insulation within the nylon is 60g Primaloft One, an industry staple with great warmth for its weight and relatively decent performance even when wet. This seems a sensible amount of insulation for spring/summer use in the hills, enough for a chilly snap but not so much that you’ll forever be overheating, or cursing the weight of the jacket when it’s packed away.