You can spend thousands of dollars on TV and print ads, but how many people will actually see them? What about internet ads? It's true, most people watch TV and surf the web. But, are they really paying attention to any of the ads? Statistics show that these ads generate about 1% or less of a response.
Branded promotional products might not be seen by as many people, but the people that do see them, actually SEE them. You can't ignore a new pen that just arrived in the mail. A beautiful mug with a company logo is also very hard to ignore. These products get attention. And when you want to spread the word about your company, you want attention!
You won't get sales if no one knows you exist. The only way to boost sales is to grab people's attention. Although, the upfront costs of promo products might seem quite large, but compared to other forms of advertising, it is the cheapest method available. And the most effective.
There is some truth in the belief that reaching more people increases your chances of making a sale. But, what matters more is the people you do reach. If someone is not interested in what you have to offer, nothing will change his mind. That is why you have to carefully select who will receive your promo items. Giving a free steak to a vegetarian isn't going to turn that person into a customer.
However, if you give that steak to a meat eater, you could have a loyal, repeat customer for life.
Steaks don't actually make very good promo products because they are expensive and difficult to brand. But, there many other items that can be used as branded promotional products to help boost your sales.