Giveaways get the word out


November 16, 2022


These plugs were a small investment with a big payoff. PHOTO: JERRY SCHAPPERT

In a sea of swag, it’s tough for pest management professionals (PMPs) to know which promotional items really work. People love getting free stuff, no doubt. But how often does it generate a call or a referral? Or does it just disappear in a kitchen junk drawer?


I’ve serviced many a home and seen a competitor’s refrigerator magnet or wall calendar. The logo stares at me as I inspect the kitchen pantry. I do chuckle a bit, but then I think, “How much money have I spent on such? Is this same scenario happening across town as my competitor chuckles, too?”


One year I decided to try flyswatters. I went online and found what I needed, diligently designed it and placed my order.

As most websites do nowadays, a banner ad suddenly appeared, showing another product with the bold type, “You might also like this.” Well, the company caught my attention with a tiny electrical socket protector in the shape of a house. I clicked back to the design area and sure enough, all my company info fit just fine, only much smaller.

With the $200 impulse buy made, I checked out for a total of a $1,200.

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

My plan was for members of a local community group to deliver the flyswatters along with their monthly newsletter, which they agreed to do. As for the socket protectors, I was going to put one or two in each home where I conducted a wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspection. My thought was, the new homeowners would see it, and it would serve as a silent salesman 24 hours a day.

The day came when my package arrived, and I was ready to put my plan into action. When I opened the box, I saw my bag of socket protectors and they were a pleasant surprise. Although small, all the text was legible and looked really good.

Pulling out the much larger bag of flyswatters was disappointing, though. They were all of 9 inches long and barely looked like they’d even swat a fly, literally. I chose the size, so it was my error. But in any case, they were more of an embarrassment than anything else. I went ahead with my distribution plan but as expected, I received few to no calls from neighborhood residents. Lesson learned.

On the bright side, my socket protectors generated interest, and we received quite a few calls because of them over the next two or three years — long after my bag was empty. I definitely got my money out of that order.

I still have a box of forgotten swag sitting in my office: a couple handfuls of keychains, a few T-shirts, etc. It’s not enough to amount to any real giveaway campaign, unless you count the 100 or more flyswatters I just can’t bring myself to pass out any longer.

Tips from the Pest Cemetery Crew

“BugBoss Swag Buckets! They include about $100 worth of stuff. I donate them to random raffles and events, and they always get the most entries.”
— Brian Zahringer, Co-Owner, BugBoss The X-Terminator, Clintonville, Wis.

“Potato chip bag clips with our company name and phone number.”
— Cindy Jones, Co-Owner, Prestige Pest Control, Pooler, Ga.

“Rather than a widget, we give away our time. We cook for apartment residents yearly; it lets them know we are family. We also provide free spray treatments to all apartment managers’ personal homes, whether off-site or on.”
— Steve Fletcher, Owner, Accurate Pest Control, Republic, Mo.

“We have a client who owns a custom cookie business. We have her print our logo on them, and we give them to key commercial clients as a thank-you.”
— Trent Heard, Owner, RedHawk Pest Control, Madison, Ala.

“We do $20 gift cards for local businesses in a giveaway drawing for those who share our posts.”
— Mark Whorton, Owner, Whorton Pest Control, Owens Cross Roads, Ala.

About the Author

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SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at

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