So-lu-tion: a means of solving a problem or a difficult situation.
When a promotional products provider is working with her or his corporate partner to solve a problem, products, or tangible goods, should not be the only focus of the discussion. Creative ideas, responsive service and flawless execution are even more valuable than the one-time purchase of a branded piece of merchandise.
The customer is not expected to be the expert in the sourcing, production and delivery of promotional items (which is the only reason this partnership makes sense), so it is the responsibility of the vendor to get a full understanding of the issue at hand, and offer well-considered, insightful advice for the most effective solution. A few of the obvious questions that should be asked and answered up front:
- What is the problem? (last-minute request? special event? new marketing idea?)
- When is the event? (this week? next month? next year?)
- Who is the audience? (trade show participants? preferred customers? board of directors?)
- What is the marketing strategy behind this request? (one and done? setting stage for future initiatives? employee or customer appreciation?)
- What is the overall budget? (not just for promotional product, but for freight, packaging, storage, etc)
- What quantity is needed? (large quantities can be sourced at lower costs with longer lead times)
- Are there special packaging needs? (gift wrap? eco friendly? custom inserts?)
- Are there special fulfillment needs? (ship all at once? kit with other items? store and ship as needed?)
These questions should set the stage for a productive discussion between customer and provider. Sometimes the product is secondary to the presentation and delivery, and other times the product IS the presentation, but in every case the tangible item that carries the corporate logo is only a small piece of the overall solution. When meeting with a customer on a special project, catalogs and samples are great for brainstorming product ideas, but nothing beats creative problem-solving for getting the whole job done!
(Image via Comm’n Sense)