Category Archives: Promotional Products

05Jan/21

Virtual Event Swag – A Hot Promotional Product Trend in 2021

virtual event swagEveryone enjoys getting something for free – no matter what happens in the world, that is simply a truth that will never change. When it comes to swag and promotional products, you want to turn your clients and employees into brand ambassadors while rewarding their loyalty with something they can actually use and enjoy.  Rather than simply sending out swag, why not incorporate it into a virtual event of some kind?  This is a fun way to foster employee goodwill or increase brand awareness and loyalty.  There are many ways to send fun swag out in advance so that everyone involved in an event has everything they need to participate in the activities.  

Creating themed baskets and swag for your virtual event enables you to better engage attendees, humanize the virtual experience, and extend the positive experience far beyond the event! You can customize themed boxes or baskets with any traditional swag items just as though they were attending a trade show or other event.  And, you can think beyond the daytime events to the breaks and social events where fun networking and bonding happens.

virtual event swagA fun way to better humanize a virtual event is with a virtual coffee break or happy hour. Included in their box that you send in advance, you could include a branded coffee mug and coffee, a bottle of wine with branded wine glasses.  Throw a virtual bingo night and send out bingo cards, a marker, and some delicious snacks!  The possibilities are endless and can be tailored to your unique brand identity and event type.  Let the creative and fun team at Connect the Dots help you design an event with a swag box or basket that will enhance the experience and create a lasting positive impact for your business. Want to start looking for some fun product inspiration?  We’ve made it easy for you to search ideas right on our website – CLICK HERE to start your search!

15Dec/20

How to Maximize Your 2021 Marketing Budget

To say everyone is looking forward to a new year is an understatement. And, while we would all like to say goodbye to the challenges we faced in 2020, we must learn from the challenges to be in a better and more strategic position in 2021. Many businesses saw major budget cuts this year and many marketing departments will be working with a smaller budget than they may be used to next year. With that in mind, it is wise to start strategic marketing planning now so that you can optimize your budget while getting the highest return on your investment.

It is a good idea to look back at 2020 and 2019’s marketing spend and which marketing initiatives were most successful. This will help you narrow down how you want to funnel your budget efficiently. Determining what your budgeting priorities are will help you be more prepared for unforeseen shifts in lifestyle, community, corporate culture, world culture, and consumer attitudes – something we have seen a lot of in 2020.

When looking specifically at things like promotional products and swag, now is the perfect time to be creative and intentional with your branding and marketing message. To do this while optimally using your marketing budget, it is important to start early and order early. This will allow you to be certain you will be able to get what you want, in the timeframe that you need it, for the best price. When you wait until the last minute you risk there being low or no stock of something you need, increased prices for rush orders, and other obstacles that are best avoided if possible.

To build brand loyalty with your customers, acquire new customers, and foster positive relationships with your employees, it is time to learn from this year and think outside the box. While social distancing and staying at home is still heavily encouraged, now is the time to consider how you can enhance your digital presence through employee and customer online experiences. For example, there are many ways to support digital events both digitally and physically – themed swag, baskets, kits, or other items can be delivered prior to digital events to ensure everyone has what they need for the event. Your 2021 marketing budget, whether large or small, can be focused and maximized to achieve your marketing objectives and hav4e a successful 2021 with strategic planning in advance.

13Oct/20

Strategic Corporate Marketing During a Pandemic

While we all try to figure out what a new “normal” looks like during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, business still goes on.  Many businesses have struggled to rapidly switch to remote work, quarantines, and pivoting their business models to meet customer needs.  With the majority of large gatherings, expos, and other events being canceled, virtual conferences and events have become popular.  Virtual happy hours are all the rage to stay connected with co-workers.  And marketing tactics have had to adjust to being able to reach clients in a saturated online market.  Companies that have found strategic ways to market their business through these trying times are poising themselves to be successful through the pandemic and long after it ends.

Anyone that manages corporate marketing for their business is probably experiencing a common trend right now – dwindled staff and support, along with a limited marketing budget.  Determining the right way to spend your marketing budget is more important than ever before.  Working with a creative marketing strategist can help you determine the right types of marketing experiences and/or products that will best suit your marketing objectives and budget.  Strategic budget allocation does not mean that you have to waste money on a branded product that someone will throw away.  Fundraisers, creative customer promotional products, and custom products for staff to show appreciation all foster a sense of community that most people are longing for in this time of social distancing.

Remind customers that you are surviving and thriving through the pandemic as a business, and remind your employees that you know how hard they are working in a unique environment with a thoughtful and unique marketing campaign.  When you work with an experienced marketing professional that is filled with endless creative ideas, it is easy to find a way to craft a strategic marketing campaign, market your virtual or in-person (when possible) event, and show loyalty and support which all ultimately does something so important during this time – creates a positive community experience centered on your brand.

26Aug/20

Boost Workplace Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic With These Products

As we continue to adjust to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are beginning to see a return to the workplace or many people.  While people return to on-site work, workplaces need to maximize safety to protect their employees and clients through a variety of infection mitigation strategies.  In addition to a robust cleaning and disinfection protocol, there are many ways to enhance workplace safety that are both effective and branded.  Branded COVID-19 promotional products or the workplace serve a very important purpose while keeping branding consistent and familiar, even during unique times. Below, we have compiled a list of just a few of the examples of branded products that will improve workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social distancing is one of the best ways to reduce transmission of disease which is why it is particularly important in business offices, retail environments, and schools.  But, as we all know, it can be hard to know how far exactly is enough for proper social distancing. With floor stickers, wall signs, and partitions, you can make it easy to socially distance.

Face coverings are widely required in public spaces or any areas in which social distancing cannot be maintained.  These invisible face shields are effective and will look even better when customized with your business or school’s branding.

Employee wellness is of the utmost importance because in addition to not wanting your employees’ health and safety compromised when employees get sick they miss work which can impact business operations.  There are a number of branded promotional products that support your employee wellness efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Connect the Dots, we have worked hard to research and determine the best safety promotional products for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.  Let us help you continue to promote your brand while protecting the safety of your employees and customers.

13Aug/20

How Your Business Can Show Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic


We’ve all heard it be said about the COVID-19 pandemic by now – ‘We’re all in this together.”  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we have truly taken this to heart and are here to support our clients in any way possible.  We know that businesses are looking for cost-effective ways to show their employees and customers some support during these challenging and unprecedented times. Many businesses have struggled just to stay alive through quarantine or are working with dramatically-reduced workforces but, nevertheless, marketing is still important because the world cannot come to a complete standstill.  There is a multitude of ways you can market your business while showing support to your employees and customers with promotional products.  You can still generate a positive customer experience and foster employee goodwill with a thoughtful gesture.  The team at Connect the Dots is here to help you develop strategic and creative ways to reach customers and employees while marketing your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How Your Business Can Show Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Support Home-Based Hobbies During the Pandemic with Promotional Products

    • Gardening:  Seed and grow kits, gardening tools, buckets, kneeler cushions, chimes, and more make home-bound hobbies a bit more fun.  Recipients will be thankful that healthy and fun hobbies are being encouraged when they receive their branded gardening items.
    • Cooking & Grilling:  With the hustle and bustle of life slowed down a bit by staying home more, many are taking the extra time to cook at home more.  What better way to support someone that has recently taken up cooking than with a branded apron, oven mitt, wine opener, cutting board, or other kitchen tools such as spatulas and measuring cups?

Support Health & Safety During the Pandemic with Promotional Products

    • Unique Masks & PPE: Branded masks, branded gaiters, branded antibacterial wipes, branded touchless safe key, branded sanitizer, branded face shields, and more will show recipients that you care about their health and wellness during this time.
    • Home Fitness Equipment: Resistance bands, yoga mats, jump ropes, massage balls, exercise balls and more can be personalized with your branding to provide a positive way to stay physically and mentally healthy while home.

Provide Some Luxury During the Pandemic with Promotional Products

    • Food:  What is better than receiving some delicious food and snacks?  Make someone’s day a little more fun with a delicious branded food delivery.
    • Bath Products:  Bath products such as bath salts or bubble bath, as well as body wash and body lotion are a nice gift to receive any time but particularly thoughtful during this stressful time.  Branded bath products make it clear to your employees and clients that you care about their wellbeing.
    • Candles:  Candles are a source of relaxation and improve the ambiance of any room.  Branded candles make time spent at home a little more luxurious.
11Mar/20

2 Creative Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day with Promotional Products

Teachers are molding the minds of the next generation and often doing so with little pay or recognition.  With Teacher Appreciation Day quickly approaching (May 5th, 2020), we wanted to give you plenty of time to consider the way in which you would like to show your appreciation to the teachers in your school in a thoughtful, sustainable, and economic way.  

The job is not easy and yet, teachers persist, and at Connect the Dots, we believe it is important to recognize that kind of dedication.  Who doesn’t want to show a little extra appreciation for the hard-working teachers in our lives?  And, while we are sure that the majority of teachers are running on a heavy dose of caffeine daily, they have probably received their fair share of mugs as a thank you gift.  While the gesture is still thoughtful, your teachers probably do not need another ceramic mug to add to the collection. Fortunately, there are many creative, thoughtful, and economical ways to show the teachers in your life that you appreciate them that they will actually use and love!  Recognizing the hard work of teachers is also an excellent way to foster goodwill and school spirit while reinforcing and encouraging continued hard work.

2 Creative Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day with Promotional Products

1.  Music Accessories: Bluetooth Speakers & Wireless Earbuds

Spending all day in a classroom full of kids means listening to A LOT of noise.  Show your teachers you see that being a teacher isn’t always easy and let them unplug with a little music.  Bluetooth speakers are a great option because teachers can take them with them wherever they go and they are also handy in the classroom!  And, wireless earbuds will come in handy for teachers when they just need a little break from the noise.  They are a great option because they are so versatile and useful while still being economical and fun!

2.  Tech/Sports Accessories:  Backpacks & Duffle Bags

Today’s technology-driven world means that most teachers are transporting a laptop, tablet, and/or other technology in their bag on a daily basis.  Make it easy, convenient, and a fun way to show school spirit with logo backpacks or logo duffle bags in a modern and stylish design that teachers will happily carry with them!  Customizing the bags with your logo or school color makes it both stylish and an excellent marketing tool.

18Feb/20

2020 PPAI Expo Recap & PPAI Pyramid Award

2020 PPAI Expo Recap

As always is the case, the 2020 PPAI Expo was filled with outstanding education, exciting promotional products, industry networking, education, and a lot of fun!  We had the entire Connect the Dots Promotions team there for the Expo and we had the opportunity to experience a lot.

The CTD team learned about the Power of Sustainability and giving back within the promotional products industry.  The promotional products industry must look at sustainable and valuable ways to strategically use promotional products because, when done the right way, promotional products are an extremely valuable advertising medium that is better than many others.  One great example of a company doing promotional products in a sustainable way with social responsibility in mind is Sandmar.  We love their products and their drive to be a part of the solution rather than the problem by reducing waste and implementing better corporate sustainability efforts.

We also had the opportunity to hear from Ben Nemtin, author and co-founder of The Buried Life movement. He had an incredible and inspiring story that we highly recommend you look into if you have the opportunity to do so.  The big takeaway: Don’t live a buried life, don’t bury your passions and dreams.  At Connect the Dots Promotions, we can confidently say that we are passionate about what we do and we want to help you live an unburied life too!

PPAI Pyramid Award

We at Connect the Dots are still on a high from our very own Karie Cowden receiving the PPAI Pyramid Award at the 2020 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas.  The PPAI Pyramid Award honors creative excellence in the promotional products industry.  It also recognizes dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns, and exceptional craftsmanship.  The entire expo was a great experience but it was an incredible honor to be recognized for our hard work and dedication to excellence.

PPAI Pyramid Award Recognition from PPAI:

“In an effort to create sizzle and increase funds for UMOM New Day Centers, Connect the Dots Promotions pitched a rebrand of the current End Homelessness Walk to feature a Guinness World Record attempt.  Refreshing the logo from a tennis shoe to a pair of flip-flops and updating the event name to “Walk the Walk to End Homelessness,” along with providing attendees with branded flip-flops and t-shirts, allowed the event to take on a new life. The flip-flop 1K world record attempt helped UMOM New Day Centers in attracting new donors and raising awareness by connecting all advertising mediums.”

The PPAI Pyramid Award Demonstrates Why You Should Work with Connect the Dots

This award beautifully demonstrates what can happen when you allow Connect the Dots Promotions to coach and help you with your business, brand, event, or marketing and promotional efforts.  For UMOM, giving and donations had plateaued and by implementing our marketing and promotional strategy, they experienced a 60% increase in giving!  

We work closely with our clients and put a substantial effort into creating dynamic partnerships that, when clients fully buy-in, facilitates creativity and growth!  If you are ready to grow your business, brand, or event, Connect the Dots Promotions has the team, creativity, and network to produce exceptional results!

04Feb/20

2020 PPAI Expo – Trends Recap

Attending the PPAI Expo is something that our team at Connect the Dots looks forward to every year.  And, the 2020 PPAI Expo in Las Vegas did not disappoint! One of the reasons we look so forward to the PPAI Expo is learning about the latest trends in promotional products (trust us, this is only one, stay tuned, there will be more blogs soon about the other things we enjoyed while attending!).  

What we really loved about the trends we saw this year is that the trends weren’t simply feature or style-related, there were some trends in the core essence and intention of promotional products.  This is so important because promotional products are not just basic marketing tools, they can be used as powerful and complex tools that are both useful and impactful which further raises brand awareness.

2020 PPAI Expo Trend #1:  Connection & Protection

It is no wonder that we at Connect the Dots loves this trend – it is at the core of what we as s company strive to achieve – connection.  Fleeting moments and flashy trends are fun and can be useful but when it comes to lasting impact that develops true brand-awareness and loyalty, connection is the name of the game.  Promotional products that foster connection include things that make you feel good and/or give back to a specific cause.

When you know better, you do better – or at least that is the hope and trend we are seeing in promotional products for 2020.  Generation Z cares more about protecting the earth more than any generation ever before. Fortunately for our clients, we have special search tools to make it simple to search product lines that give back to specific charities or causes.

2020 PPAI Expo Trend #2: Homeward-Thinking

So often, promotional products are for a specific task or purpose that is work-related (mouse-pad, calendar, pens, etc.), fitness or activity-related (water bottle, gym bag, stress ball, etc.) but now the focus is turning homeward.  By this, we mean that promotional products are much more personal and focused on well-being and quality of life.  For example, sleep is the hottest new luxury – yes, we said sleep.  More and more people know how important sleep is and are making self-care goals to get more sleep – why miss the marketing bandwagon here?  Perhaps a promotional product focused on improving the quality of sleep experience is something that would not only be deeply appreciated but would make a lasting, positive marketing impact.  

Additionally, much more focus is on quality experiences a part of a marketing moment including immersive experiences and other activities that encourage experiential play such as escape rooms or other experiences like Meowolf.  These types of promotional products and experiences encourage people to be present and in the moment and that is certainly a hot trend for 2020!