Promotional items or promotional products include useful or decorative articles of merchandise that are used in marketing and communication programs. The items are usually imprinted or decorated with a company’s name, logo or message.

Promotional items like personalized pocket knife have a long history in many places and if you would like to know more about the background of promotional items and how they are used today then read the mini-guide that follows.

Dating back to the election of George Washington in 1789commemorative buttons were the first known promotional products in the United States.

A competitor in the same town, Henry Beach, picked up on the idea and soon the two men were selling and printing bags for buggy whips, marbles, fans, card cases, cloth caps, calendars, hats for horses and even aprons. In 1904, twelve manufacturers of promotional items like personalized pocket knives got together to found the first trade association for the budding industry.

Today’s Promotional Items

Premiums, incentives, advertising specialties, business gifts like custom pocket knives, awards and commemoratives are also considered promotional products. They are often distributed at trade shows, used in direct mail and as part of guerrilla marketing campaigns and in the trade these items are also known by the slang terms “swag” and “tchotchke”.

Today, to specific target markets to generate specific and measurable results many promotional products are distributed by organizations and businesses.

As in earlier days, to promote candidates and causes promotional items are used in politics. Often as a part of fund raising and awareness-raising campaigns promotional items are also used by schools and other organizations.

Examples of promotional items include caps, logo-branded t-shirts, bumper stickers, key-chains, badges, box cutters, pens, utility knives and many other useful items.

As they appeal to all ages and affect all five senses promotional items are often requested and widely appreciated. As they can be targeted to specific markets the use of these items is gaining popularity. It has also become a popular hobby to collect certain types of promotional items.