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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Custom Printing: Useful and Stylish Promotional Items

I’m a sucker for free promotional items. I understand how they work. I know they keep the brand in front of me as I use the items on a daily basis. But, guess what? They’re useful and they look good. So I still like them.

Here are some thoughts on promotional items you might want to include in your arsenal when you go to a trade show. They’re also good for just sending to your clients as a reminder of who you are. After all, they keep your brand name in front of your prospects (and your business “top of mind”).

Branded Folding Box Cutters

This is useful to me as a commercial printing broker. I need to open boxes of printed products and samples on a regular basis. I have a folding box cutter with Epson’s logo and tag line (“Exceed Your Vision”). It’s silver and it sparkles, with the branding in what appears to be white custom screen printing ink. At least this is what would have been the most efficient way to produce such a “tchotchke” (another term for promotional items). A third descriptive name is “swag.”

This kind of promotional item is sexy because it looks sharp, it comes in a black velvet bag, the branding looks dramatic, and, most importantly, it’s useful. I can even change the blade.

Apparently, research has shown that this kind of product is kept for many months and yields hundreds of “impressions” each month. That is, every time I use the box knife, I see the logo and think of Epson.

Branded LED Flashlights

Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I find flashlights just as useful as box knives, and Epson just sent me one of these, too. It’s a nine-bulb LED, and it works the same way as the box knife (the marketing part, not the flashlight part). It says “Epson: Exceed Your Vision.”

The thing is, a few times a year I get a print promotion from Epson referencing its inkjet products. Given my work in offset and digital commercial printing, I find this information useful, so I always return the business reply card and get the promo items and the samples. Granted, the large format printing samples are of equal value to me in understanding and promoting the technology.

After all, I need to know what’s going on in the industry. But between the values of quality and innovation associated with the Epson brand, and the flashlight and box knife that keep the Epson brand in front of my eyes on a regular basis, Epson’s marketing unit is doing a superb job.

And, by the way, under my high-powered loupe, it looks like the flashlights were also printed via custom screen printing, given the thick silver ink film.

A Few More Promotional Items

In a marketing journal I recently saw a few more “tchotchkes” that appeared to be useful and effective promotional items. In addition to all the imprinted hats, cups, mugs, chairs, messenger bags, pens, and such, I saw a Post-It dispenser. It had the company’s logo screen printed right where you reach for a Post-It. What could be more useful? You need to make a note. You reach for a Post-It, and you see the company branding, again and again and again. There’s no better way to reinforce this brand image in the mind of the Post-It user than these constant “impressions.” Impressions that go right into the subconscious mind. And, like the box knife and flashlight, a Post-It dispenser is useful.

How Are They Made?

Just in case you want to produce these “tchotchkes” for your own business (as either an entrepreneur or a member of a large firm’s marketing unit), you should know how these products were imprinted.

Positioning the flat mesh screen of a custom screen printing press onto the flat side of the folding box knife is relatively easy to visualize. The knife is irregular in shape, but screen printing equipment can be placed against anything from a knife to an interior wall of a building (think of the printing on the wall in an art exhibit) to the brim of a golf hat.

Printing on the side of a cylindrical flashlight would be a bit harder to imagine, since the custom screen printing mesh frame is flat. However, in this case the curved side of the flashlight can be rolled under the flat screen mesh and ink can be forced through using a squeegie, yielding a printed image that curves around the aluminum frame of the flashlight.

Screen printing a logo on a Post-It dispenser again just demonstrates how irregular an item can be and still receive a screen printed image. I did a little research online and saw videos of small stands built to hold items rigid throughout the custom screen printing process. All it takes is a little ingenuity.

And in all of these cases, once the extensive set-up work has been done to prepare the ink and the screens, the custom screen printing process itself, albeit slower than other forms of custom printing, is quite economical for longer runs.

2 Responses to “Custom Printing: Useful and Stylish Promotional Items”

  1. Printneeds says:

    It is good one and I agree with you.


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