Don’t spend a dollar on promotional items until you read this guide.

Promotional products have been a pillar of marketing for decades. With over $20 billion in promotional products bought by businesses per year, one thing is obvious: they're a proven way to build brand awareness and loyalty. While other traditional forms of advertising begin to fade into the past, custom promo products have survived the test of time. Many companies today focus their marketing budgets on digital advertising, but the longevity of the promotional product industry proves that customers still value tangibility. People want something they can hold. Instagram and Facebook ads might be a great way to reach a targeted audience, but with the volume of advertisements the average person sees per day, chances are your advertisement was just a needle in a stack of needles. 


If you're looking for cheap ways to market your business, whether it's online or a brick and mortar outlet, promotional products are a cost-effective option. In a 2017 PPAI consumer study, it was found that 81% of consumers who are given promotional items keep them for over a year, and 18% keep them for over 11 years. 

As a consumer, when is the last time you bought a magnet or a reusable tote grocery bag? Yet somehow you probably have a stack of reusable totes for shopping, and your kids' drawings still find magnets to keep them perched on your refrigerator. When you distribute high quality, creative, or unique promotional items to potential customers, you're beginning a relationship with them that might last over 11 years. Your logo is right in front of them when they open the fridge and broadcasted to everyone they pass when they use your custom canvas tote for grocery shopping. 

custom printed canvas tote bag

What are promotional products?

Promotional items or products are cheap goods like pens, tote and drawstring bags, fanny packs, and mugs. Most of them are consumer goods which are regularly used, or displayed for long periods of time. They also tend to fall into one of two categories.

Types of Promotional Products 

  • Stationary

  • Reusable 

Stationary promotional items, such as magnets or mousepads, are good at building brand loyalty through continuous brand exposure. These kinds of promotional items are great for situational products or products/services that a person will only need in a very specific situation. Businesses that fall under these categories include plumbers, lawyers, insurance agents, moving companies, and healthcare companies. 

promotional pens

Reusable promotional items such as canvas tote bags, drawstring bags, or fanny packs, are better for raising awareness for a business. These products are typically reused constantly by the consumer, sometimes in public places. This means that everyone you give your reusable promotional product has the potential to become a walking billboard for your business. 

custom printed promotional canvas tote bag rope handles

The secret to getting the most out of your promotional products and merchandising, however, is combining the two. 

For example: If you're giving out custom notebooks, magnets, and pens on a college campus to promote your school and office supply store, hand them to potential customers in a tote bag, fanny pack, or drawstring bag. Each of those bag types is cheap when bought from wholesale bag suppliers, so you can give out tons of promotional bags filled with useful items while still remaining cost-effective within your marketing budget. 

At BagzDepot, we also provide custom printing for your wholesale or bulk purchase before the items are shipped-- so you don't have to worry about dealing with multiple vendors to get your finished promotional product. Custom printing your promotional items is a cheap way to make your merchandise unique and creative. Getting your promo items in front of a customer is the first part of the battle, making them unique enough for the customer to hold onto, is the second. If you want to stand out from the competition, it's important to place your stationery promotional items in a bag that's unique from what's typically used in the industry. Canvas tote bags with custom printing are relatively cheap and standout from the typical promotional bags.

This article will focus primarily on ways businesses can use reusable products (canvas tote bags, drawstring bags, fanny packs, messenger bags, etc.) to market their products or services. As well as what types of bags are better for each marketing tactic. 

Let's take a look at some creative ways to use custom printed promotional bags to advertise your business.

Using wholesale promotional bags for free giveaways 

As the world goes digital, fewer customers need to leave their homes to purchase the goods they need to. You can fill your custom tote bags with coupons, merchandise, product samples, or information on your business; and give them away to potential customers. This is especially effective for brick and mortar locations if base the locations you give the bags away at on where you expect to drive the most foot traffic from. 

If you want to distribute your custom branded totes in bulk, find highly congested areas such as college campuses and farmers' markets to distribute them. It's important to note that while this is an effective way to get as many eyes on your brand as possible, using custom designs for different bags can also bring in impressive results. 

farmers market shopping

Think of them like Snapchat filters, businesses can give away custom canvas tote bags to different areas with a different color scheme or design for each neighborhood, city, or town. This turns your merchandise to a point of pride, making customers happy to walk around with their belongings while representing your brand. 

blank tote bags

If you're marketing a retail outlet, you can also put together a “Discount Tote Bag”, and hand it out to customers coming and going from your store. You can fill your bag with offers and discounts relating to products you need to move first, or even run special offers around certain suppliers to strengthen your relationship with them. 

Giving out your Discount tote bag can be a one-time occurrence, or you can make it a regular marketing effort. Consider handing out different discounts and offers once a week, or once a month. This builds brand loyalty and makes coming to your business a habit. You can also include exclusive discounts for customers who shop with your custom brand. 

We've included information on the best bags to use as promotional items depending on your budget. 

The best cheap wholesale bags for giveaways:

The best unique and creative wholesale bags for giveaways:

Using wholesale promotional bags for charity drives

This is a great way to promote your company and support a good cause at the same time. Find a local charity with a cause that's important to your customer demographic and partner with them. You can sponsor their donation campaigns and food drives by supplying them with promotional bags (displaying your company logo) for people to gather their donations in. 

You can give out canvas or cotton tote bags in bulk to your customers and tell them to leave the bag (filled with food or supplies) at a designated charity. You can also leave bags wherever the charity is promoted, the volunteers working at the charity will be happy to explain how people can use your companies tote to support a good cause. When you buy your tote or drawstring bag from wholesalers like BagzDepot, giving out enough bags to supply the charity and its many donors can also remain relatively cheap. BagzDepot offers bags in a wide range of quality, if you're on a tight budget, use cheap cotton tote bags. They're cost-effective and still have a higher level of quality than the standard plastic tote people are commonly seen carrying around groceries. 

charity drive reusable shopping tote bags

This way you're supporting a good cause, marketing your business, and also creating a tax-deductible event by donating your canvas totes and drawstring bags as a business. 

The best cheap bags to use for this marketing campaign are: 

The best unique and creative wholesale bags for giveaways: 

Use wholesale promotional bags to increase customer retention 

If your business generates a large number of repeat customers, then giving re-usable tote bags to your customers instead of paper or plastic alternatives is a no brainer. Buying canvas or cotton tote has a higher upfront cost than typical plastic bags, but the switch saves business owners money in the long run. 

promotional products

When customers are urged to make the switch to reusable totes, it eventually removes the need to buy paper and plastic shopping bags at all. Asking customers to switch to your re-usable bags also shows them that your brand cares about the environment by going the extra mile to reduce the amount of waste it generates. 

eco friendly icon

Even if your customers go to a competitors' store they might still end up advertising your brand by carrying your custom tote through the aisles. A great way to ensure your promotional bags stand out is to make sure you buy a bag made from unique materials. Most bags that are given out to shoppers are plastic, consider using; cotton, burlap, or canvas totes to make your promo items stand out. It's the same train of thought used when printing business cards on card stock that is thicker or wider than the standard business card. We get used to seeing the same type of products in specific settings, and our brains take note when we see something different. 

The best cheap wholesale bags for customer retention:

  • Canvas Tote Bags

  • Jute Burlap Bags

  • Cotton Tote Bags

  • Polyester Drawstring Bags

The best unique and creative wholesale bags for customer retention:

  • Canvas Tote Bags with Zipper

  • Large Canvas Tote bags with Zipper

  • Fanny Packs & Waist Packs

  • Canvas Laundry Bags

  • Cotton Drawstring Bags

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Written by Bagz Depot — September 19, 2019

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