As promotional products professionals, we tend to dislike the terms tchotchkes, trinkets and giveaways when referring to promotional products.  The topic of clients using these terms comes up from time to time among distributors, most agree that these names diminish the value of the items, and feel compelled to educate their clients in the difference between a giveaway and a promotion.  

My personal opinion is that I wouldn’t attempt to explain the difference unless it was a very large client that I was SURE they knew the difference.

We go to industry courses, we have learned the importance and value of promotional products and how they have an ROI, etc.  Yet none of our clients have been through the same courses, therefore don’t have the same understanding of our industry as we do. The moral of the story is that we need to “meet our clients where they are at”, and that includes speaking their language.

The terms promotions and giveaways may not mean the same thing to all our clients as they do to us.  This is terminology that we in this business understand and are impressed with.

But I would guess that a large portion of our clients consider our products to be giveaways and NOT promotions.  It is healthy for us to think of them as promotions as it raises the expectations of ourselves.

But, our clients “give them away” at golf events, customer appreciation events, cold calls, client appreciation, Christmas time, etc, etc.,   

 If we think these are purposeful promotions and they call them “giveaways”…. Who cares what they call them, as long as they are ordering and we are providing them with promotional solutions.

I don’t think it would be good to have a statement to clients to say “don’t do giveaways anymore” as we don’t know what that means to them.

As far as whether they call them Tchotchkes, Trinkets, or Promotional Product Program Solutions, I have a story that impacted me greatly 15 years ago.

I was so excited to go meet my national client where they had me set up a trade show in their boardroom for 3 days and announced it to all their departments to come visit us.  My main contacts walked around with me introducing me to every department and dozens of people.

They introduced me as follows:

“I need to introduce you to Rod… He is awesome and does all our trinkets and tchotchkes and stuff”

Yes, I cringed!!! And I almost interrupted her…

BUT I was wise enough not to interrupt this person to correct her terminology when introducing me to the CEO of a top 10 company in Canada. I bit my tongue and by the end of the year, I was doing $1 Million of value-added “trinkets and tchotchkes” on a 45% margin with this client.  

On some level, they felt a lot less intimidated buying $10,000 of trinkets in 10 seconds,  than having to spend months deciding on a $10,000 “Promotional Products Program”.

It was my responsibility to create value for them, and if I never got them to use the “right” terminology, who cares? Both them and myself were more concerned with the relationship and the value I added than “proper” terminology.

Whatever name they prefer to use is fine with me.