Month: July 2016

Making Promotional Products Work for You

promotional products

When you work with incentive trips and elaborate gifting campaigns, it’s easy to forget the tried-and-true, perennially popular promotional products. You know what we mean – the branded mug that you have your coffee in every morning, the canvas tote you got at that expo last year, your company quarter-zip sweatshirt. The fact that these items can be found on virtually every desk and in every closet is a testament to the fact that promotional products work. And these aren’t just your grandma’s pens anymore – there are promotional products in every shape, size, and price point. Our internal gifts team is no stranger to these products, so we’ve picked their brains to find out the very best information for selecting the right promotional items for your company.

Know when to spend, know when to save.

There are instances when you should consider higher-priced promotional products to get your message – or your brand – across. Internally, a high-quality Swell water bottle or an external charger shows appreciation for employees, and a commitment to keeping employees happy. You might also consider spending a little more on promotional products when going on sales trips. A nice notebook, pen, and insulated thermos can go far in the sales process, because these are items that people truly use. And if they’re high-quality – they’ll want to show them off. For trade shows and expos, consider keeping it simple with products you know people will use in the moment, like pens, notepads, and even branded USBs.

It pays to be on-trend.

Yes, water bottles and coffee thermoses are useful, but no one wants to have last year’s design on their desk. Keep abreast of the hot products by regularly communicating with your vendors and, if you can, going to trade shows like PPAI that specialize in promotional items. Keep in mind that just because you want to stay on trend doesn’t mean you have to spend the money for a brand name. If you do your research, you’ll find that there are plenty of “generic” products that actually allow more branding and customization and are more cost-effective for your company.

Ask for feedback.

You won’t know if you don’t ask! While you don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen, you also don’t want one person’s taste dominating the selection of promotional products. Having a team of go-to curators in the office can be a great way to make sure that many ideas are represented. If you are at a trade show, consider asking a handful of people what products they value most. Do they need pens and notepads? Or is it sunglasses and ball caps? Gathering feedback from attendees, staff, and industry experts will bring you peace of mind and keep your product selections from going stale.

It’s no secret that promotional products work – in a study by promotional product research giant PPAI, they found that 52% of respondents did business with the advertiser after receiving a promotional product. The key lies in knowing what to get and when to use them. And above all else – know that whatever you put out there is representative of your company and your brand.

Re-Inventing the Wheel

beach dinner combines old with new

When you have a program or incentive that occurs year after year, one of the easiest ways to keep it fresh is to take the group to new and different properties. But what if you have fallen in love with one location in particular, and want to go there each year? Your challenge then becomes balancing the new with the old – all while providing a flawless experience. In our years of planning, we’re no stranger to situations like these. We asked some of our veteran account executives what their top pieces of advice were when you need to teach an old dog new tricks.

Know what to change, and what to keep the same

There’s a reason your group wants to go to the same property year after year – they love the place! It then follows that you shouldn’t work to alter the aspects that they keep coming back for. If your group is in love with the beach dinners and some of the activity options, don’t be afraid to keep those largely the same. But it takes someone who knows the group incredibly well to make those high-level decisions. If it’s not you, make sure you have someone on your team that has done this program before and can determine what to keep the same, and what to change. That high-level, long-term relationship building will be key to the success of the program and will be the reason the attendees want to come back year after year.

Make your activity options flexible

In a traditional incentive trip, attendees are often presented with a selection of private and group activities to participate in throughout the event. When returning to the same property with a largely similar group, consider widening your activity selection as well as making sure attendees know they don’t have to choose anything if they don’t want to – rest and relaxation can be just as fun! Since the group knows the property well, they’ll want the choice between activities they liked last year, new activities, and no activities.

Be inventive and on-trend with gifts

Gifts are one area you shouldn’t keep the same on an incentive event like this. (The one exception would be gifts that are traditionally given each year, like a bottle of high-end spirits or cuff links.) Use your gifts as a showcase for the trendy and unique. Consider high-end tech and home gifts that your attendees can show off after the trip, like Bose speakers or a personal assistant like the Amazon Echo. The gifts can also be a great way to send your attendees home with the hottest styles in shoes, hats and jewelry. Having a custom fitting or custom jewelry bar can enhance this experience.

It can seem like a difficult task to make an event seem new and different while simultaneously keeping it familiar and comfortable, but the key lies in high-level knowledge of your group and a good eye for trends that will add a touch of the exotic to an oft-used locale. The key is to make sure you know why your group wants to go to the same property, and utilize each dinner and activity to give them that same feeling, whether it’s a long-standing tradition or a new addition.