Merch, swag, promos. Whatever you call them, here’s a list of 2020-appropriate ideas for promotional gifts. If you hear, “I’ve heard of you,” then know your marketing dollars are well spent.

Even though marketing tactics vary widely, the concepts behind them stay largely the same. Agents want to earn leads, sell homes, and build their brand.

What a lot of people tend to forget though is that the role of marketing is to pave the way for sales. It’s the warm-up act, a process for making it easier to introduce yourself. If you hear, “I’ve heard of you,” then know your marketing dollars are well spent.

But that doesn’t mean marketing can’t be fun or inventive. In fact, sometimes you want the vehicle to outrun the message. Enter: promotional item marketing.

Merch, swag, promos — whatever you call them, here’s a list of popular (or not yet popular) promotional items agents can consider using these days. Recognize any of these?


1. Double-walled aluminum mugs or bottles

From wine to soup, these items keep anything you want cold or hot for hours, and people can’t get enough of them. They go in golf carts, campers, and on conference tables, and they can be bought as tumblers, handled mugs, even beer growlers. They always look cooler with an agent’s website and logo on them.

Pricing info: Yeti, RTIC, Kleen Kanteen

2. Portable chargers and batteries

We all love having power. For our devices, that is. No busy agent has gone a day without worrying about being on a critical call and having their smartphone punch out early.

The best of these include multiple port types to accommodate iPhones, Android phones, wireless headphones and tablets. If you really want to charge up clients, give them one that can power a laptop.

Mophie, Anker, and Goal Zero are some of the more reputable names in the charging biz, but not all of them offer branded versions. Check with a marketing partner to confirm. Using a sticker to brand it yourself is also a good option.

Pricing info: Mophie

Pricing info:

3. Beer growlers

For those who might have just arrived here from Mars: First, welcome! Second: craft beer is really big here on Earth. Beer advocates come in all ages and demographics, and you’ll never do them wrong by providing a way to transport their favorite local hazy IPA from brewery to refrigerator.

You can also go as far as to simply send them custom beer, a gift trend popular in the wedding industry. You can do the same thing with wine or champagne, but remember that wine aficionados tend to be more selective about what they drink. No reason to risk a turned-up nose.

Pricing info: Delta Marketing

4. Wi-Fi smart plug

A smart-plug is a simple and affordable way to start building a connected home office, but it can be used all over the house. And agents can get their logos printed on them.

Use them for seasonal holiday lights, desk lamps, or to control a kid’s game console addiction. Most are compatible with existing smart speaker networks.

5. Custom Patagonia apparel

Yes, the eponymous fleece vest has taken a lot of heat as the de facto uniform for the venture capital crowd and “in-touch” tech-exec, but there’s a reason for that: The company doesn’t hold the highest opinion of such folks.

Agree with the company’s stance or not, the popular, outspoken outdoor brand makes highly regarded gear that always looks good and performs even better. Yes, they’re going to be pricey, and that’s exactly why your brand will stand out.

They’re especially useful for luxury developments and resort sales pros. Patagonia also brands its highly regarded Black Hole duffel bags. Let’s face it, those no-name golf shirts and cheap polyester zip-ups aren’t getting it done.

Pricing info:

Pricing info:

6. Neck gaiters or BUFFs

Face masks, unfortunately, are all the rage. And they likely will be for some time. If you want to be more original, however, and offer something super practical, try a neck gaiter or what’s commonly called a BUFF after the company that made them mainstream.

They come in multiple levels of thickness and offer uses in the cold and heat. There isn’t a skier, hiker, cyclist or outdoorsy person anywhere who won’t accept another one. You can get some with sleeves for inserting filters, too.

7. Bluetooth speaker

Once great for lounging by the pool, now Bluetooth speakers are legitimate home office must-haves. A great way to make that next Zoom call sound better, these speakers come small and often serve as accessory chargers for other devices. They’ll link to any device with a Bluetooth chip.

Pricing info: Delta Marketing

8. Reusable grocery bags

Pricing info:

Many places in the country have started charging for the use of plastic grocery bags as a way to alleviate their unending plague on the environment.

Even if you live in a place that doesn’t share this concern, reusable grocery bags make very practical promotional handouts.

They don’t have to be used for only holding kale and vegan refried beans; instead, encourage their use as gym bags or to hold the kids’ beach supplies. However they’re used, they’re great to have handy and inexpensive to buy in bulk.

9. Matador pocket blankets

Pricing info:

This wonder tucks away in under a minute into its own pocket, but its namesake stems from it being able to fit into your pocket.

Durable and handy, Matador’s Pocket Blanket can be deployed at the beach, park, car trunk, on a picnic table or outside the tent.

Matador’s entire line of compact and smart-travel products could find space in your 2021 marketing budget. Get creative.

You can still do pens, calendars and flash drives if you feel that works with your client base, or you can impress people and stay top-of-mind.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.

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