7 Tips for Saving Money When Buying Promotional Products

Promotional products are a great way to showcase your brand. At Fairware, we’re passionate about sustainable products and making sure your merchandise lines up with what your brand stands for. We’re also realists. We know managing budgets are a perennial struggle and we want you to save money when ordering your promotional merchandise.





Fairware helps you to better engage your customers, employees and partners through the creation of sustainable, custom branded products. We ensure your promotional merchandise helps tell your story and animate your brand.

Our mission is to change the world through the simple act of buying. We’re committed change makers and we’re serious about sustainability.

We bring emerging retail, consumer and sustainability trends to the forefront of promotional campaigns and product assortments. We’re sustainable brand strategists and merchandise is our medium.

We do the homework on ethical sourcing and sustainable materials so you can rest assured that your marketing merchandise lines up with your values.

Thanks, Team Fairware


Promotional products are a great way to showcase your brand. At Fairware, we’re passionate about sustainable products and making sure your merchandise lines up with what your brand stands for. We’re also realists and know managing budgets are a perennial struggle.

Here are our top seven tips for saving money when planning your promotional merchandise programs.


07 10 13 16 17 18 21 09

Plan Ahead Collaborate with Colleagues Leverage Merchandise Across Campaigns Design with Budget in Mind Embrace Segmentation Serve Local Food Use Collections

TIP #1


We tell clients three to four weeks is a standard lead time for ordering custom branded merchandise. One week for refining the product and branding, two weeks for production and a week to ship. Anything less that that and you run the risk of additional fees. Most of our buyers are used to planning for annual events or have a ‘90 day plan’ for their department or program. Adding a promotional products line to those plans can serve as a simple prompt to make sure you’ve allowed time to do it right. Pro Tip: Our Account Managers calendarize their client’s events with prompts to call you when it’s time to get going (in case you forget) – it’s one way we can help you keep on top of your task list.




As a general rule, standard shipping anywhere in North America is a four to six-day endeavour. The next levels of shipping are three day and overnight. It’s kind of heartbreaking to see exorbitant shipping fees added to a project simply because an earlier deadline was missed. We’ve seen shipping costs from $100 for a project to $2000 for the same project because of rush shipping fees. Calculating the impact of rush shipping fees is something we do all the time to help our buy- ers get the decisions they need from their teams. Nothing helps get a decision made like showing an overnight shipping quote!


Many suppliers have standard production times of seven to ten days, and they charge rush fees to do production in less time. These fees are generally nominal compared to rush shipping – and we work with supplier and clients to ensure the most cost-effective solutions.


We get it, sometimes you must get merchandise done at the last minute. We have suppliers that have two-day production. We’ve had orders where the project is approved one day and printed and shipped the next. The trade off? You won’t get artwork proofs to approve and any unforeseen circumstance (think snow storm) can upend the whole project.

Peace of Mind Tip

If you’re doing a big order or have complex art, it’s worth investing in a sample of the product or even a pre-production sample (a sample of the product with your logo on it). In fact, for any orders of $5000+ for a single product, our policy is to include a peace of mind sample in the ordering process. This adds a level of assurance to make sure you get the

product you think you’re getting. But note, add at least a week for this part of the process.



Talk to your co-workers about their plans. In the world of promotional products, the more items you order, the less the per unit cost of the product. You can realize significant savings overall if you order in bulk. If your order doesn’t meet the minimum order quantity or if your numbers aren’t high enough to get quantity discounts, chat with your colleagues to see if you can combine your promotional product spend across team. Maybe what you want to order for your sales team would be perfect for your HR department for onboarding new staff. Perhaps your top tier customer gifts would work for your board members or investors.


Every year, Vancity Savings Credit Union participates in local Vaisakhi parades to celebrate the historical and religious festival in Sikhism. The local branches order red bags for the event and because their order is in the thousands, they receive a great price per unit. A few months before the event, we share a bulk purchase alert with all the other buyers in the organization to provide them with the opportunity to ‘add on’ to the order. Even if another branch or department wants only 50 bags, they’ll get them at an awesome price because of the parade bags.


We work with Unicef USA to create merchandise for their campaigning efforts and events.

One of their largest campagins surrounds Halloween..

We send a prompt to all regions and have people place orders for their Trick or Treat merchandise at the same time so that we can consolidate those orders and provide everyone with better pricing.



TIP #3


Looking at your annual program for promotional merchandise can identify opportunities to use the same product across campaigns. Could your trade show giveaways also work for some social media campaign prizes? Could staff t-shirts be a good fit for your influencers? Look for products that can be used for different audiences, campaigns and time of ye ar to consolidate your spend and find savings. Ordering more quantities of fewer types of products will help stretch your budget.


TIP #4

DESIGN WITH BUDGET IN MIND There are a lot of ways to save money through design. Here are some pro tips so you don’t design yourself into an expensive corner.


It costs less to print on light coloured t-shirts than on dark coloured t-shirts. We have to use more ink and screens to get graphics on darker fabrics which adds to the cost.


As a general rule our products all include the cost of a one location and one colour print. Adding colours and locations will incur additional run charges and set up charges. In some cases, we are printing in CMYK or full colour – so go crazy with your design (but ask first). When in doubt, keep it simple.



TIP #5


We know, all your prospects, customers, staff and donors are awesome. But some might be more awesome than others.

Maybe they are a top-level client, a high net worth donor and a long- standing staff member. Too often we see people treat their promotional merchandise programs through a separate lens. The strategic approach you use in other parts of your business can be applied to your promotional merchandise as well. Consider the typical trade show scenario. We often get calls at the last minute from folks looking for 2500 things for $1.00 per unit . We use that as a prompt to ask a simple question – WHY? Is the best scenario having 2500 low cost items at your booth? If your number one client swings by, do you hand them something worth a dollar? Does your top donor sign a contribution check with a pen you’d find in a hotel room? Consider splitting your budget to match your customer, prospect and donor segments. That $2500 budget could be better served with 100 gorgeous $15 journal books for your top tier people, $500 on a prize to drive traffic to your booth and $1000 on lower cost items to get your name in front of the ‘masses’. Promotional products done well create an emotional connection to your brand so you want to make sure you are sending the right message to the right people at the right time.


TIP #6


We’re big fan of edibles at Fairware – and not everything has to be branded. Looking to drive traffic to your booth or event table? Consider a bowl of fresh organic apples, serve coffee, or find a local food manufacturer who would love to get their bars or snacks in front of a crowd. Given how most people feel wandering a trade show floor or community event – a little fresh food, local flair or hit of caffeine goes a long way.


TIP #7


At Faiware, we love the retail look and feel of using patches and sewn on woven labels. They’re subtle, on trend and can really pull together an assortment of custom merchandise. But did you know they can also help save money? Custom patches and woven labels allow you to get custom merchandise at lower numbers. Many printers will only print 24 or 100 units as a minimum. With patches and woven labels you can order them in bulk and then sew them on lower quantities – for example 9 backpacks. Patches can also serve as their own give-away (see tip # 3 leverage your merchandise across campaigns). Woven labels can also be sewn on bags, hats and t-shirts to create awesome mini-collections and tie together your merchandise visually.



Interested in learning more or getting a custom quote?


No one else does promotional merchandise quite like we do.

contact@fairware.com 604.732.3247 866.606.3247

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