Summer promotional items

Summer promotional items

There are many summer-themed promotional items, available from stock, which will help to spread a little sunshine this year. Summer is, in theory, the time of holidays, long evenings and above all fun! So, if you’re looking to develop a seasonal campaign this year, here are some promotional ideas for you.

Holiday travel accessories

Help take the stress out of travel by giving-away a travel-themed promotional item. Travel adapters are always well received, with both low cost and high-end options available for corporate branding. Travel in comfort with a neck cushion or travel comfort kit. Luggage tags, locks or straps always come in handy. Travel bags offer a great opportunity to heighten brand awareness.

Summer clothing and accessories

T-shirts are the perfect promotional product. Useful, with large branding area, they are as popular today as they were 100 years ago. Your office might be nice and cool, but the warmer weather can make work harder for those in places where there is no air-conditioning. Maybe your warehouse staff need a Summer uniform? Maybe your drivers need garments that are more appropriate for sitting in traffic on hot summer days? Summer is also a time for sporting events, like charity runs, sports matches and team building days. How about a summer hat or a pair of branded sunglasses?

Beach and pool accessories

Ice lolly mouldsThe beach and pool are great places to have fun. Why not send your clients off on vacation with a cool beach towel? What about a useful cooler, beach bag, or beach game? Then there’s the barbeque or picnic. Who doesn’t need some bar-b-q tools or an apron? Kids love the pool and beach so what about something for them? A bucket and spade set, a kite or frisbee? What about some ice lolly moulds or water bottle with a fruit infuser?


Summer music festivals and cultural events

Millions of people attend music and cultural festivals every Summer. That represents a huge captive audience for your brand. Each event has its own demographic and culture. Promotional items, especially those which can be used during the event, are always very popular.

Festival survival kit

From a set of earplugs to a seat cushion or disposable poncho, there are lots of low-cost items which fit the bill. There is even a range of festival survival kits for those who fully immerse themselves in the weekend! And if you would like to create something really bespoke, like branded wellies or tents just contact our sourcing team for more information, although you’d need at least 4-6 weeks lead time.

And remember, as we get closer to the Spring and Summer period, stocks of popular items become more volatile. Don’t leave it too late!

Promotional items: 10 tips to save you time and money

Promotional items

Buying promotional items should be an easy process, but all too often it can become complicated. Here are 10 tips to help you streamline the process and to build a long-term relationship with a supplier.

1. Stop for a second and think about it

What do I want? When do I want it? How many do I need? Before you click send, or make that call just stop for a second to think what the supplier will need to know. Racing to dump a vague brief onto a supplier is a massive false economy. It might feel like you’re saving time by rushing in with half the story, but in fact, you are going to make the whole process more long-winded as a result.

2. Have your artwork ready from the start

Do you have artwork? If you don’t have it, who does? What sort of artwork will the supplier need? Promotional merchandise is all about the artwork; the whole point is to print, engrave, embroider, emboss your logo or design onto things. So, not having artwork is a bit of a problem. We created this page to help our clients: Help With Artwork.

3. You get the quote you deserve

Why does buying promotional merchandise have to be so painful? All these quotes, all these questions and emails. All I wanted was some pens and a few mugs! Well, of course, it’s possible your supplier has made a meal of it, but its more likely that the original brief you gave was not great. Had you actually thought about the product colour versus the colour of the logo? Did you mention you needed shipment to Barcelona in time for that show? Was it clear to the supplier that when you said a 2 colour design you actually meant four versions of a 3 colour design?

4. Take the suppliers advice

Good suppliers occasionally say no. Bad suppliers say yes to everything. A good embroiderer will point out that part of your logo might not reproduce very well because it’s too small. A good printer will tell you that the image you sent is too low resolution to print well. A good supplier will steer you away from potential pitfalls. A good supplier will keep you updated with the latest trends and product developments. There’s nothing wrong with pushing a supplier to innovate, but equally, you need to take the time to listen to their reasons for suggesting an alternative course.

5. Allow enough time

No time, no choice. The principle is simple. More time, yep you guessed it! All too often, promotional items are an after-thought. Couple this with the ‘Amazon’ mindset, which expects instantaneous delivery, and the whole thing becomes a series of compromises. Here’s the thing, Amazon gets stuff to you quickly because it’s all sitting on a shelf ready to go. In other words, Amazon doesn’t make the stuff especially for you. All promotional merchandise is bespoke. You wouldn’t want a product with somebody else’s logo on, would you! A quick tip: Even if you don’t really have a deadline, set one anyway. It’s better for all concerned that they have a date to work to. Think 10 working days and you won’t go far wrong.

6. How to get a quick decision from your boss or team

Oh just go and get some ideas! Great, thanks for that. So you’ve won the prize, with no brief and a whole of load of things to second guess, you are now the promotional merchandise expert! Then, having spent ages trying to ‘please all the people all the time’ you’ve now discovered that you’re too late to place the order anyway. There is another way.

Firstly, filter the obvious stuff at the start; how much budget do I have, what is the deadline, do we have artwork ready? Then, once you’ve got options in from the supplier, go back and present a limited choice coupled with decision deadlines. For example, ‘you can have red or white but unless you make a decision by Monday we might be the only exhibitor without giveaways’. Don’t be shy, strip out the niceties and set out the facts.

7. Don’t delay proof approval

Ok, so you’ve placed an order. All systems go. The supplier has just sent the proof and needs it signed off so they can proceed with production. Here’s the thing, you need to understand that factories see ‘proof approval’ as the starting gun for lead time. The lead time is not calculated from when you placed the order. So if you delay approving the proof you are delaying delivery, it’s that simple. Sure, the proof may be wrong, in which case you need to feedback why as soon as possible. Either way, time is of the essence.

8. Check the goods when they are delivered

Is the stuff the right stuff? Is everything ok? don’t assume! If there’s a problem, make the supplier aware immediately. Good suppliers are responsive and will get to work to resolve the issue. A quick tip: take a photo of the problem and email it to the supplier, that will date stamp the issue and allow all concerned to understand exactly what’s wrong.

Promotional items9. Make sure the supplier gets paid

Who cares if the supplier gets paid! Well, you should. Good suppliers don’t deal with just anyone. They especially don’t deal with people who make them wait for months to get paid. If they will need a Purchase Order to get paid, make sure they get one. If they need to send their invoice to a specific email address, make sure they have it. Otherwise, they and your accounts department are going to be on your case. Avoid hassle, clarify the payment process upfront.

10. Meet your supplier

Suppliers are people. Real people. Not avatars or bots. Not LinkedIn profiles or imaginary beings from your inbox. It’s amazing how much easier it is to work with people that you’ve actually met. You will probably change jobs many times in your career, and if you decide to stay in marketing, you will doubtless need the same type of supplier from time to time. Having someone you know, someone you’ve met, someone who understands how you like to work, forms part of your offer to potential employers. Everyone in business needs good suppliers, take yours with you.

10 effective ways to use promotional products

Promotional products; 10 effective uses to help you get more value.

1. Increase brand awareness

jute bag

When your customers seek ‘X type of product’ what brand do they think of first and why? Making sure the right people think of your product or service, at exactly the right moment, is what brand awareness is all about. Your product or service may be technically superior, it may be cheaper, it may be a whole long list of wonderful things but if people don’t know your brand, or even worse, are confused by it, your sales team will have a mountain to climb. Promotional products help to raise brand awareness and spread the message. Get known by more people for less, with promotional products.

2. Improve customer loyalty with promotional products

recycled mug70% of companies say it’s more cost-effective to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Earning and retaining customer loyalty is paramount. People ‘buy people’, so give ‘your people’ the tools to spread goodwill. Promotional products offer a cost-effective medium for promoting customer loyalty. Maybe your audience is very traditional, they want the printed calendar for their desk or a simple pen? Maybe your clients will be enthused by something more sophisticated like a wireless charger. Make sure your brand name is right there, front and centre, just when it needs to be!

3. Promote a specific product, message or event

printed umbrella

Use promotional products to highlight the attributes of a particular product or service. Connectivity, integration, speed, efficiency; all of these concepts can be communicated by the right promotional product. Add a strap-line or event title to your branding to tie-in with your campaign. Continue the main theme of your campaign through your promotional give-aways; match shapes, colours, and functionality.

4. Recognise employees

waterproof bag

Good people are hard to find. Great people are hard to keep. Making sure that colleagues, of all levels, are properly recognised is key to your organisation’s success. A staff umbrella for the winter, a ‘new starter’ pack or gym bag to encourage a healthy lifestyle can all form part of a programme of recognition and reward. We all like to feel valued. Promotional products can help to add the value that staff retention relies upon.

5. Increase footfall to your trade show booth

promotional sweetsCatch the eye. Giveaways are a great, low-cost method of attracting interest and spreading goodwill. Why not turn each visitor into a mobile advertising platform by giving them a free bag? Have a low-cost, high volume giveaway like sweets or stickers to giveaway en masse. Then take something more sophisticated to give to your key contacts after that important scheduled meeting. And remember, merchandise is made to order so the more time you allow for production the better the product will be – don’t leave it to the last minute!

6. Kit your staff in uniform

promotional jackets

Teams wear team kits. Armies wear a uniform. It’s simple stuff. Put everyone in some form of uniform and subconsciously they start to work together. Uniform, even if it’s just an embroidered shirt for wearing at a trade show, will help make your staff more visible and feel more valued. Uniform projects a professional image to existing and potential clients. Think about it, who do you feel more confident buying from? The smartly dressed person decked in company colours or the non-descript guy loitering around at the back of the trade-show booth? And what sort of image do you want your delivery drivers to portray? As the old maxim goes, ‘you never get a second chance to create a good first impression’. We offer a wide range of clothing and headwear.

7. Say thank you to a VIP

X-Pack 6 golf gift setDecision-makers are hard to get to and even harder to satisfy. It’s never been tougher to maintain a personal relationship now that we all operate in a digital world. And yet, people still ‘buy people’. The big decisions are still almost always sealed with a face to face meeting or a level of personal trust built over many years. So say thank you, at that opportune moment, to the person who has placed their trust in your product or service. What’s an appropriate gift for your key contacts? Do women want the same as men? Is there a price point, too low and the item may seem insulting, too high and you stray into the minefield of inappropriateness. Check with the people who manage the relationship.

8. Tie-in promotional products with an event or season

promotional cup

Four seasons and numerous religious, cultural and sporting events combine to create a busy calendar of potential themes for your next promotional campaign. But be careful, make sure you aren’t about to offend someone or infringe copyright! People are individuals with individual attitudes and beliefs. The title of a major sporting event is often copyrighted and many images and terms associated with major events are protected too. So yes, it’s cool and often really effective to tie your promotional campaign in with a moment in time, but before you do make sure you’ve done your homework.

9. Add value with a premium gift

key ringEver wondered why you got a freebie inside a box of breakfast cereal? Did you know McDonalds Restaurants is the largest toy retailer in the world? Multi-nationals follow the tried and tested approach of ‘premium’ marketing; add a low-cost extra to your core product to alter the overall perception of value. Could you do something similar? Buy our plumbing products and get a free tape measure!

10. Promote cost-effectively, sustainably and responsibly

printed pens

As digital advertising costs spiral and social media marketing flatters to deceive, traditional marketing methods have begun to regain ground. Promotional products offer a low-cost channel for generating brand awareness and promoting goodwill. And now you can go green with promotional products!


Is Jute environmentally friendly?

Is Jute environmentally friendly?What is Jute?

Jute fibre is made from the outer stem and skin of the Jute plant.

Almost 85% of the world’s jute cultivation is concentrated in the Ganges Delta; a fertile region is shared by both Bangladesh and India.

China is also a big grower of Jute. On a smaller scale, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan also commercially grow Jute.

Jute reaches maturity in less than 6 months and offers a good yield. This efficiency of growth means less land is required compared to other crops which in turn reduces the need to destroy natural habitats. Jute can be grown without the need to use pesticide or fertiliser. If chemicals are used during Jute production, it is on a much smaller scale compared to other crops such as cotton.

Jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a rate much higher than most trees. Jute fibre is entirely biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.

Jute bags vs. single-use plastic bags – it’s a no brainer!

Single-use plastic bags are about as bad as it gets! Most are not biodegradable, so subsequently litter and pollute. Worse still, they and other single-use plastic products are killing wildlife on an almost apocalyptic scale. Sealife, in particular, is being destroyed by the microscopic remnants of plastics products including bags. According to Greenpeace, UK supermarkets are generating one million tonnes of plastic annually, which contributes to the estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans each year.

In a survey of more than 5,000 UK consumers by Kantar Worldpanel, 24.6% expressed ‘extreme concern’ about plastic packaging in grocery, while 42% believed food and drink manufacturers should make it their priority to make all their packaging recyclable. 80% of respondents claimed to use ‘bags for life’.

Don’t risk it!

When it comes to promotional shopper bags, Jute is probably your safest option. Single-use plastic bags pose a risk to your brand reputation and values. We offer a wide range of Jute and Organic Cotton bags, all of which can be branded and delivered to you within 10-14 working days.


Are bamboo promotional products environmentally friendly?

bamboo promotional itemsWhat’s good about bamboo?

Bamboo doesn’t need lots of chemicals to help grow, is 100% biodegradable, naturally pest-resistant, and highly renewable. Bamboo requires far less water than similar plants, for example, cotton. Bamboo regrows to its adult plant size in 3 to 5 years. Bamboo absorbs 5 times more carbon dioxide and generates 35% more oxygen than similar plants.

Prosperity Institute estimates that 60% of the value of bamboo production is returned to the farmers who grew it. As many as 1.5 billion people already rely upon bamboo or rattan in some significant way, according to the International Network for bamboo and rattan.

Bamboo is strong and flexible. This means that it can be a good substitute for plastic.

What concerns are there about commercially grown bamboo?

Bamboo can’t be sustainably grown on a commercial scale in Europe. So 80% of the world’s bamboo comes from China, where standards for organic and sustainable production are often very difficult to ascertain.

The popularity of bamboo for commercial use is encouraging farmers to plant in unsuitable places and in some cases clear areas of natural forest for cultivation.

Chemically processed bamboo isn’t great. Typically, used to produced textiles, bamboo fibres are converted to fabric using some pretty nasty stuff including sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide. These chemicals are extremely harmful to the environment and people! If you aren’t sure what’s in your ‘bamboo’ product you can always request a certificate of manufacture to check.

It says bamboo, but is it all bamboo?

Bamboo promotional products are almost never 100% bamboo. For example, the Bamboo Double-Wall Travel Cup has a bamboo outer but also contains plastic and metal components. The Bamboo Wireless Charger USB Hub is essentially a collection of electronic components encased in bamboo with a plastic and metal cable. Conversely, the Bamboo Calendar is 100% bamboo, except for the ink used to print onto it.

How do bamboo products get here?

Most bamboo products, or products which are part-bamboo, have been shipped into Europe by Sea from the Far East. A small percentage would have been shipped by Air. Shipment by sea is arguably more environmentally friendly than shipment by Air. However, one large container ship produces as much Sulphur as 50 million cars. Global trade helps reduce poverty, right? with 90% of that trade being facilitated by sea shipment.

So, what’s the bottom line with bamboo?

All things considered, at this stage, we think choosing a bamboo product should be seen as more of a ‘statement of intent’ than anything else. That is to say, a product which is all or part-bamboo is a ‘step in the right direction’ from an environmental perspective. Bamboo is better than a plastic that is not biodegradable or that could be recycled.

View our bamboo products


Organic cotton promotional products

Organic cotton promotional clothingOrganic cotton production is better because it doesn’t use nasty chemicals, which harm the soil and people.

The normal production of cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop. As a result, 77 million cotton workers suffer poisoning from pesticides.

The production of a non-organic cotton T-shirt uses about 120 grams of chemicals. Non-organic cotton farming uses around 16% of the world’s insecticides.

Organic cotton farming uses 88% less water and 62% less energy than other methods.

70% of our planet is covered in water but only 3% is fresh water. Just one-third of that fresh water is available for us to use. A billion people don’t have access to clean water. 2.4 billion people suffer from poor sanitation. Organic cotton is 80% rain-fed so there’s less pressure on local water sources.

Additionally, organic cotton produces around 46% less CO2e compared to conventional cotton. Organic cotton is better for you.

Are you sourcing responsibly?

So will you choose a product like the Cascades Organic T-Shirt? Yes, it might be a little more expensive but that depends on how you are measuring cost. Do you just care about the bottom line, or should brand reputation be part of your calculation?

Many people choose organic cotton. Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson, Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, Jamie Foxx, Kelly Slater and Emily Deschanel choose organic cotton products. Stella McCartney and Bono have started their own organic cotton collection.

Lot’s of promotional products are now made from organically grown cotton. Bags, caps, sweatshirts, beanie hats and pencil cases to name but a few. As the promotions business moves to a more sustainable supply chain, we can expect to see even more organic cotton products. The question is, will farmers see the benefit of organic farming and move away from using harmful methods? Paying a little more helps.


Switch to eco promotional products

Generation Z is angry and organised; is your business ready?

Why it makes sense to switch to eco promotional products

Some old people think the warmer weather is a good thing! It’s also clear that some think climate change is a left-wing conspiracy.

But younger people are thinking very differently, and furthermore they’re pretty ANGRY about the whole thing!

So whatever your sector, whatever your product, whoever your customer is, it’s time to respond with actions not words to what’s happening with attitudes around climate change, pollution and ethics.

Facts, yes facts not fake news, prove that these issues are real and that they will have a significant impact on demand for your products and services.

This is why it makes sense to switch to eco promotional products.

Plastic is the new tobacco

18 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in our oceans each year. Over 817 animal species around the world are affected by ocean pollution and more than 100,000 marine animals die each year from plastic entanglement and ingestion. Just 10 rivers carry 93 per cent of the trash that feeds into our oceans; the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, the Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste into the Yellow Sea.

So plastic is about to become the new tobacco; dirty, anti-social, old-fashioned.

Yes, as you will see we are still selling plastic products or products with some plastic components, but we’re trying hard to reduce the amount each year and so are many of our suppliers – ‘the writing is on the wall’ for our industry so to speak!.

Alternatives to plastics

There are plenty of responsible alternatives across all of our product categories. 15 years ago you would have had a choice of say 50 items, now there are hundreds!

From the original recycled pencil to pencils made from old banknotes and denim jeans. The war on disposable cups has created a new choice of drinkware options including products made from bamboo and recycled bottles.

Bamboo is becoming a popular substitute for plastic components with items such as the bamboo wireless charger are becoming very popular.

Clothing too is a category of real innovation. The U.S. Alternative Apparel has some really innovative products, almost all of our clothing products are WRAP certified.

And as the plastic bag has been confined to the history books by many large retailers, we offer a wide range of organic cotton and jute shopper bags.

It’s also about sustainability and ethics

eco promotional itemsDo you want to be the business who bought products from a factory full of kids, kids just like your own? Do you care about sustainability or is that stuff just for hippies and management-speak types? Within a business context, it’s not what you think that counts, its what your customer thinks – and their customer – and their customer!

You could buy the cheapest T shirt or you could buy a WRAP certified product. Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment; 152 million are victims of child labour.

Similarly, you could buy the cheapest sticky note or you could buy a recycled product. Tropical deforestation is now responsible for 11 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.

And why not make a virtue of your decision to buy responsibly? Why not advertise the fact that your business or brand, does care about the environment and social standards? In fact, maybe in the long-run, the ‘cheapest’ items are the certified products? In other words, to Ignore issues around sustainability and ethics may prove to be an expensive mistake.

Climate change will never kill goodwill

Promotional products create goodwill, that’s it in a nutshell. In turn, goodwill creates relationships which generate profit. People buy people. So, it follows that, as long as trade exists, there will be a need to create goodwill. Alongside goodwill there co-exists a perennial desire for all things new. New products excite and help to project the concept of progress and innovation. Right, ok so promotional products get to survive but they a have to be different. Products have to be recyclable, they have to be biodegradable, they have to come from sustainable sources and be responsibly sourced. Yes, you can have giveaways but those giveaways have to be different from those churned out during the era of waste.

Business is not ‘bad’, it just needs to change

Generation ZCurrently, it seems almost impossible, for a business, not to be viewed as hypocritical and inconsistent when it comes to many of the issues outlined above. Some will think that our approach is cynical. They are wrong. We have no company cars, we all work from home so there’s no commute. We try to recycle what we can, and through a developing range of products, try to encourage our clients to switch to using more ethical and responsible promotional items. Where we can we are sourcing products manufactured in the U.K. to reduce the need for air and sea freight.

However, even though we are minuscule in comparison to the 20 most polluting companies in the world, we still face real challenges. For example, we recently tried to replace some of our packaging materials with more environmentally friendly alternatives. Some items were quite easy to switch-out but others proved really difficult to replace with products that performed just as well.

Small businesses often rely on larger businesses, who have much greater resources, to drive innovation. Maybe it’s just too easy for some sectors to default to ‘business as usual’? Maybe the use of some materials has to become illegal before we get real change?

We are light-years from perfect, but we are trying!

The young have chosen not to ignore facts. Unlike their parents and grand-parents, Generation Z appears to have an increased ability to think critically and, is becoming understandably impatient. Heatwaves are now 30 times more likely due to climate change. Temperatures of 21.2 degrees Celsius were recorded in London’s Kew Gardens on February 26, 2019. It was the warmest winter day the UK has ever experienced. A few months later, the warmest ever Summer day (38.7 degrees Celsius) was recorded. Which bit of this are people struggling to understand?

So yes we are, as a micro-enterprise, of course, light-years from perfect! – but we are conscious of the issues and are trying to improve.