Custom Charging Cables (and Other Power Products) – A Promotional Product Advisory

This is a surprisingly controversial subject…not in the way of religion or politics, but it really F’s with people’s belief systems on promotional products.

On one hand, you have your old school chain of thought that promo products should be cheap giveaways. This makes sense, you are spending a significant amount of money on a marketing channel only expecting a small return on your investment.


On the other hand, no one wants to give or receive something so cheap that it’s embarrassing, useless or tossed out the moment it’s given away.

The reason phone charging (cables, adapters, wireless chargers, any and all things that are used to charge your phone) merchandise triggers this response is because they seeeeem like they are cheap. You go into your local drugstore and pick up something for under $5, sometimes under $1…meaning that it probably cost the drugstore half that cost to buy.Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 5.13.46 PM

But, here’s the thing. I’ve bought these cheap drugstore charging cables while on vacation (twice, unfortunately), I’ve taken them out to my rental car only to find they don’t work. Then, I have to go back in, wait in line, and return the item, go to an Apple store and buy an MFi certified cable for $25 and be irritated that I’ve wasted nearly 2 hours on this process with a dead phone.

Why aren’t these cheaper? It’s wire and plastic, right?

Well, you have a few kinks in this system. First, if a factory in China is pumping out thousands of these highly cheap cables every hour, you certainly aren’t getting quality.

Thankfully, the commoditized, mass-produced and inexpensive ways of the industry are falling by the wayside as everyone is coming to the realization that over the last decade they’ve spend thousands of dollars more on replacement items than the original “nice” item that they could have bought in the first place. People are also becoming aware of intellectual property and noticing it never feels good to rip someone off.

To further add insult to injury, you have Apple updating their phones every month or so and making your cheap cables obsolete. Unless your cable is MFi certified (like this one), it will no longer work in a month or so…three months is the longest I’ve had a cheap cable work.

Secondly (or is this thirdly?), your entire budget was wasted if no one uses your giveaway. That’s simple, reality-slapping-you-in-the-face reasoning for not buying cheap custom power cords. Why would you want to do that? A business card works great at a tradeshow. Really. People stick it in their pockets and call you later.

But, luckily, you have options.

1- You can go wireless. While this option still only works for a percentage of your clients and colleagues, there’s little-to-no risk of an update nullifying your giveaway. In fact, I had a great powerbank that was both wireless and had attached cables. I mostly used the cables since it charged my phone faster, but while out of the country, those cables stopped working with my phone. But, I could still charge my phone on the wireless pad!!Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 5.18.52 PM

Besides the functionality of wireless chargers, this technology is cool and still pretty new. Not everyone has this in their house and getting it as a custom gift is something that is appreciated. The technology isn’t going away. More and more of our electronics are becoming wireless, so something like this would be a great gift that can grow with your client’s or team members’ needs. It has cables for now and wireless for the future.Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 9.09.32 AM

2- You can get MFi certified cables. I’ve written about MFi certification in the past, but it’s a big deal that your custom cords still work after they’ve been delivered to your client or team member. It costs a little more for the manufacturers to certify, but that certification means that your gift will be useable and leave a better impression on the recipient than a flashy custom cord that doesn’t work.Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 9.10.06 AM

3- You can build it into your budget to keep replacing these items every month or so. This may seem passive aggressive in this blog post, but I don’t mean it that way. I still have a lot of clients who have absolutely no control of their short term budgets and are directed to order something like this.

In the short term, this is the cheapest path to having something branded to give out at tradeshows or job fairs. They’ll most likely work until the next update as many manufacturers can tweak their cables in some way that makes them work with the latest update…but, not all of them. This option does become expensive in the long run, produces the most waste and likely won’t make any friends…so, when you can avoid this kind of spending, please do!

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