Maximize Your Company’s Merch Budget

Promotional marketing, or “swag,” is an easy and fun way to promote your brand, engage with your audience, and build loyalty—but we know better than anyone that swag is an investment. And with many consumers tightening their spending and causing businesses to feel the pinch, you might be hesitant to launch any new campaigns right now.

That said, after all our years as the Treasure Valley’s premier promotional marketing agency, we’ve come to know 3 things for certain:

1. People LOVE receiving swag which makes it an ultra-effective marketing outreach tactic every company should budget for.

2. Everyone—from the largest conglomerate to the smallest startup—wants to find ways to stretch their swag budget.

3. As promotional marketing experts, the entire crew here at In the Bag Promotions is uniquely qualified to help with both of those.

In that spirit, we’re going to cover six of our best tips and tricks for getting the most out of your marketing budget—without compromising on quality or impact.

Monthly budget graphs with a calculator



Repeat after us: the key to budget-friendly promotional marketing is proper preparation (say that three times fast).

Why? Because rush orders are always costly.

We recommend outlining your promotional marketing strategy well in advance of any campaigns or deadlines you have. Waiting until the last minute may result in rush charges from the factory and expedited shipping charges. Give yourself ample time to research the items you want (we can make recommendations) and leave time for design, proofing and production to get the perfect item.

Additionally, seasonal items sometimes qualify for early-bird discounts, but you must be prepared to place your fully finalized order well in advance.



Rather than scattering your budget across numerous cheap items and passing them out indiscriminately, focus on a few higher-quality swag items your targeted recipients are more likely to use repeatedly.

Why? Because continually replenishing your swag supply because your items don’t last or aren’t worth keeping is 100% more expensive in the long run (and it’s bad for the planet).

Despite the up-front cost, purchasing lower quantities of desirable and durable items saves money in the long run. Plus, their increased longevity means your brand will be in front of your target audience for a longer time, extending their lifespan—and your marketing reach. Items that stick around are more likely to be used often, and less likely to be replaced. It’s a win-win!

Stack of boxes in an office


This one may seem counterintuitive, but the promotional marketing industry is no different than any other. Buying higher quantities will help you qualify for volume discounts, which can be substantial.

Why? Because it’s cheaper for suppliers to mass-produce your custom items all at once rather than several orders over time.

Consider this: It takes a screen, plate, stamp or embroidery file to customize items every time you order. Each time the order is placed the labor and set up costs are factored into the price. Those charges can eat up portions of your budget that could go towards getting more items.


Budget-Boosting Tip # 4: Essentials First, Eccentrics Later

We know it’s tempting to choose out-of-the-box swag items to make a memorable impression—and we’re BIG fans of out-of-the-box swag—but to truly stretch your swag budget, you need to focus on the things your target audience will respond the best to.

Why? Because choosing items relevant to your target audience means your brand gets the most exposure over the long term.

Here’s an analogy to help decide how to allocate your swag budget: some items are cake, and some are frosting. The ratio of cake to frosting has to be perfect, or you’re going to ruin the flavor.

Cake items tend to be more practical, such as pens, premium t-shirts, water bottles, tote bags, notebooks, and other traditional “merch.” These crowd-pleasers get more use by a wider audience, which means prioritizing them is most likely to stretch your budget.

Frosting items, while still necessary for a delicious ratio, are items that fewer people will use but tend to get the most credit for being unique. Good examples of frosting items are diaper bags, laser-engraved metal can coolers, custom-shaped Chia Pets, branded Bluetooth speakers, or zany socks.

custom kit with grooming products on a white background

Budget-Boosting Tip # 5: Embrace the Eco-Friendly

Sharing your brand’s commitment to the environment is likely to be popular with your target audience, many of whom consider sustainability to be an important value for companies to have.

Why? Because promotional marketing has a bad reputation for causing environmental harm, and sustainable swag is resonating with clients at ever-increasing rates.

According to Forbes, nearly 90% of consumers said they’d be willing to spend up to 10% more on sustainable products and were 7.5x more likely to choose a sustainable option.

Because of this trend, suppliers are creating and sourcing more sustainable items than ever. They’re also more likely to price their eco-friendly items competitively due to their popularity. Since more consumers will want these items, your brand outreach increases exponentially without adding extra harm to the environment.



In a time when massive conglomerates are taking over more and more industries, we believe it’s more important than ever to choose a local or small business.

Why? Because spending your money locally strengthens your community while providing a personal touch to your orders that you simply can’t get by choosing an online or remote provider.

Contrary to popular belief, smaller local companies aren’t necessarily more expensive than massive conglomerates, because they tend to have lower overhead. And often, those savings get passed on to you. Add in lower shipping costs easy delivery, and a faster turnaround time, and the savings from ordering from a local company really add up.

Here’s where we’re going to add in our own promotional plug. Can you believe we waited this long?

In the Bag Promotions has been providing bespoke promotional marketing solutions for businesses in the Treasure Valley (and nationwide!) for over twenty years. In that time, we’ve nailed down efficient processes and built relationships with suppliers. That all but guarantees great prices, quality products, and top-notch service you won’t find anywhere else.

Need more proof? How about more than 100 5-star reviews on Google—more than double our nearest competitor.


As you can see, stretching your promotional marketing swag budget is more than possible with thoughtful planning and creativity. By focusing on quality, practicality, and cost-saving strategies, you can make the most of your marketing dollars while maintaining a commitment to ethical practices. And—even better—these strategies will help your swag achieve a more significant impact.

Give In the Bag a call today to start making an impact the right way—ethically sourced, competitively priced, and unbeatable service.