Sustainable Marketing: What to do with promotional materials after a campaign

24th August 2023

In the fast-paced world of marketing, brands are always trying to come up with campaigns that will leave a lasting impression on their target audience. Often, these efforts involve making customised items that show how unique and creative the brand is to increase brand loyalty and engagement. 

One important question that always comes up is, what happens when the campaign is over, and the promotional materials are no longer needed? Think about it: tote bags, bottles, cups, pens, trolley coins, padlocks, umbrellas, charging cables, key holders, and more, all made to fit the campaign idea. But what happens to these things after the event is over, especially if they can’t be quickly given to charity or used for other CSR activities? This is because, as a brand, you don’t want your products ending up in the wrong hands and being used for things that could tarnish your brand’s image. 

In this detailed blog, we’ll talk about six great ways to reduce waste in your marketing efforts and make your promotional materials more environmentally friendly. Let’s get started.

Points to Consider when planning promotional materials for campaigns

1. Check the Quantity and Demand

When planning a campaign, it is important to assess the promotional materials and their expected outcome to avoid unnecessary waste. During your planning stage for a marketing campaign, consider these vital questions;

  •  How Many People Are You Expecting at the Event?

Knowing the expected attendance will help you estimate the number of campaign materials needed accurately. In most cases, marketers/brand owners assume a figure and produce as many so they can be ready for ‘just-in-case’ situations. This may lead to excessive wastage, especially when the ‘just-in-case’ situation didn’t happen. 

  • What Products Are Ideal for the Target Audience?

Understanding your target audience’s preferences and needs is essential to providing them with promotional materials they would love and find appealing. For example, if you’re targeting college students, practical items like stationery or reusable water bottles might be a great idea, whereas executive keyholders might be better suited for a corporate audience. 

  • What Quantity is Needed for Each Product?

Knowing the estimated quantity for each item can help you strike a balance between avoiding excess wastage and ensuring everyone gets a piece of your marketing campaign goodies. Make use of past data from similar events or conduct surveys to determine the demand effectively.

GottaBe!’s Bonus Tip: Opt for Quality and Longevity

Choosing high-quality and durable materials for your campaign products ensures they withstand wear and tear, making them last longer. Investing in goods that last longer means you don’t have to replace them as often, which cuts down on waste.

2. Sustainable Marketing Communication

Creating marketing plans that don’t change over time can help reduce waste in a big way. Many campaigns use messages that are special to the year or theme of the event, which makes the merchandise useless after the campaign/year is over. Here’s what to do instead;

  • Use Evergreen Copies

Opt for copies and designs that can fit multiple contexts and not be tied down to a specific event or year. For instance, if your brand is using tote bags for a freshers’ fair, avoid printing the year, allowing these bags to be reusable in future campaigns. In situations where you want to make emphasis on the year, you can do this on low-ended promotional materials such as flyers and pamphlets instead. 

  • Emphasise the Brand’s Values

Create campaign materials that highlight your brand’s core values and long-term mission rather than focusing solely on the event’s specifics. This approach ensures your merchandise remains relevant and can be used beyond the campaign period.

GottaBe!’s Bonus tip: Use copies that resonate with the audience, not just what fits your brand. Merge this together with your own brand values and mission, and you can be sure you are creating copies that sell and stand the test of time. 

3. Embrace Eco-friendly Materials

As a brand manager/marketer or business owner, you can choose the promotional materials that are used for your campaign. Here are some eco-friendly material choices to consider;

  • Recycled and Recyclable Materials

Look for options made from recycled materials, such as recycled paper or plastic. These things not only cut down on the need for new resources, but they also make your effort less harmful to the environment. There are print materials made out of paper that can be easily recycled and can be made to fit what promotional material the brand seeks to achieve. 

  • Biodegradable Options

Explore biodegradable materials, like natural fabrics, wooden products, or plant-based plastics. These materials break down more easily in the environment, reducing harm. 

  • Reusable Merchandise

Promote the use of reusable items like stainless steel water bottles, cloth bags, or bamboo-based products. Encouraging reuse not only helps reduce waste but also promotes a sustainable lifestyle among your audience and can also position your brand as an environment-conscious brand. 

GottaBe!’s  Bonus Tip: Partner with Responsible Recycling Centres & Create Buzz

Work with recycling centres that specialise in transforming old campaign materials into new, usable products. Collaborating with these centres ensures that your waste is handled responsibly, further contributing to a circular economy. While doing this, ensure you create a media buzz around this to further let your audience know you are environmentally friendly. 

4. Harness the Power of Data and Customer Feedback

Data is a valuable tool for any marketer, and knowing how to use it can change the way you approach your marketing campaign. Here’s how;

  • Data Analytics for Informed Decision-making

Use data analytics to learn about your audience’s preferences, interests, and purchasing behaviour. With this knowledge, you can ensure that your products are exactly what your target audience wants. This makes you less likely to make things that no one wants.

  • Customer Feedback for Continuous Improvement

Listen to your audience! You may think you know what they want, but on the other hand, you just may be missing out on understanding the intent behind their needs. Collect feedback on past campaign materials and use it to improve your next campaign. Understanding what worked well and what didn’t will help you select better merchandise, making it more attractive to your audience.

GottaBe!’s Bonus Tip: Engaging Merchandise Leads to Greater Impact

Consider incorporating interactive elements/products into your campaign materials. This fosters engagement with your brand and increases the likelihood of your merchandise being used for an extended period, therefore minimising wastage.

5. Encourage Responsible Disposal and Recycling

Your responsibility doesn’t end with distributing campaign materials; it extends to guiding your audience on proper disposal and recycling practices. Educate them on the importance of responsible waste management and how they can contribute to a more sustainable environment. You can do this by;

  • Informative Packaging

Include instructions on how to recycle or dispose of your campaign materials in a responsible way. This small step can significantly impact your audience’s behaviour and ensure your merchandise doesn’t end up in the wrong places.

  • Return and Recycle Programs

Consider implementing return and recycle programs where your audience can return old campaign materials for recycling or upcycling. Incentivizing such initiatives can get more people involved and strengthen your brand’s commitment to sustainability.

GottaBe!’s Bonus Tip: Avoid Sustainable Jargon

Be clear on what you want your audience to do and how to dispose of your materials. Don’t just aim for words like ‘carbon footprint’, ‘biodegradable’ etc. Especially when you know your audience may not totally understand. Rather, explain what you need them to do in words they understand. 

6. Measure and Celebrate Your Impact

Lastly, keep track of and measure the results of what you do to cut down on waste. Celebrate the good changes you’ve made and use them to encourage others in the industry to do the same. Promoting a healthy marketing culture depends on people being honest and taking responsibility in sustainable marketing. 

As marketers and brand owners, we have a lot of power over how our campaign narratives are told and how they affect the world. By using these sustainable strategies, we can significantly reduce the 40.4 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste in the UK and contribute to a more sustainable future.

As an award-winning marketing agency with over 15 years of experience advising and sourcing merchandise for companies, we have discovered ways to drive sustainability when it comes to your promotional materials for campaigns. Let’s take up the responsibility of being eco-conscious and foster a culture of sustainable marketing. Need help creating campaigns or sourcing promotional materials that are environmentally sustainable? Contact us at, and let’s work together.